For the past several years, even as “cutting the cord” has become more popular than ever, I often defended my desire to stay subscribed to a traditional pay TV service. I subscribed to Dish Network for the last 3+ years, and I could never imagine life without it. I loved channel surfing and being able to flip to a channel and have something on as background noise. I never watched a lot of Netflix, I never really had the attention span to just sit down, pick something to watch and finish it beginning to end. I loved having choice, almost to the point of addiction. I mean, I had to have it all, I often subscribed to just about every channel available, even if it meant paying $150/mo for service. The price hurt, but it was a luxury I enjoyed. I loved using Dish Anywhere to tune into live TV while traveling (thanks to the Sling functionality in the Hopper), and I never thought I’d say goodbye.
However, for some strange reason this past week I felt like trying something new. I committed to calling Dish and unsubscribing to the service. The call went easier than I expected. They offered me a lower rate, however they didn’t put up a fight and keep me on the phone for any longer than necessary (in contrast to much worse experiences quitting services like SiriusXM or even The New York Times home delivery in the past. I’ve been a satisfied SiriusXM subscriber for years, but they practically refused to let me cancel the service in my wife’s car even as I explained I was to remain a loyal customer in my own car. Anyway that’s beside the point). In all, I was only on the phone with Dish customer service for about twelve minutes before the cancellation was final. A big thank you to customer service for that!
To replace Dish, I signed up for Direct TV Now. I had actually signed up last month as they were offering a free Apple TV for anyone who signed up and paid for 3 months in advance, which came out to $100, a $50 discount on the price of a current gen Apple TV. I’m getting 100 channels for the promotional price of $35/mo, compared to the $150 I was paying Dish. I added HBO and Cinemax for an additional $10 ($5 for each), and they both include access to their apps (HBO GO and Max GO). I also subscribed to the Showtime and Starz services through the Apple TV, totaling about $19 for the two. This may sound excessive, but at this point I’m getting most of what I had through Dish for about $65.
So far the experience has been enjoyable. The Direct TV Now app is easy to use, and the picture quality seems to be better than the compressed HD channels I got through Dish (which seemed worse since getting a 4K TV). The only thing that concerns me about consuming TV via streaming is the bandwidth usage. As a “power user” (PC / console gamer), I already had to push my Cable One package to a plan with a 900GB data cap, and on average I’ve been using 500-700GB a month. As long as the streaming uses less than 200GB in a month I should be fine.
I have to admit, it’s freeing to have the ability to pay a much more reasonable amount for TV. There’s no $22/mo lease fee for equipment, and no change fees when I decide to change programming. I’m glad that the industry has changed enough in recent years for this switch to be possible, and I can only hope it continues to modernize in the near future (I would love for NFL Sunday Ticket to offer a streaming subscription service!). Now if only the broadband industry could adapt to be more user friendly (i.e. NO MORE DATA CAPS!)