Cutting Cable: The Decision Tree

Last week’s post on Optimum drew plenty of comments.

Some “06880” readers recounted their own experiences. Others offered alternatives.

But none went into as much depth as this one, who requested anonymity (to avoid being barraged by questions). He writes:

We are probably one of the last in Westport. But we finally converted from Optimum Cable to streaming. We will save about $150+ per month.

We now use Hulu to get all live national and local channels. We still use Optimum internet and home phone service. We also subscribe to a range of streaming services, but this is a separate decision.

Here is why we made the change:.  

  1. The $320+ monthly bill
  2. The complicated need for multiple controllers for regular TV, cable, and streaming programs. Only one controller per television is required for Hulu.
  3. After comparing other internet services, we chose to keep the Optimum 300 mps service, which right now is by far the best in the area. Optimum also offers a 400 mps or 500 mps service for an additional charge. You must have a good, strong internet signal to use this streaming option (and other streaming services).
  4. We also have Eero Pro 6 network mesh installed to improve internet signals throughout our 3-story home. You can buy Eero at Best Buy. The system is easy to install; modules plug into regular electric wall outlets on each floor. We have 3 modules, and it does improve reception.
  5. Using consumer and certain technical reports, etc., we evaluated various streaming services (YouTube, Sling, etc.). We chose Hulu as the best with the live national and local networks, the common cable CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, local) channels, and other stations in place.
  6. In addition, the Hulu service has all the record, playback capabilities, and back episodes of television like Dateline, American Greed, CNN specials, unique programming, etc.
  7. The streaming services you choose are a separate decision. Most people will be okay with Amazon and Netflix. We have a lot of interest in others: HBOMax, Apple, Disney+, etc.

Here’s our decision process:

  1. I called Optimum. They sent me to the group responsible for those people that want to cut off cable service.
  2. Within a few minutes I was given an offer to reduce my BASEB $285 per month to $185 for one year. During my second call, they offered another $30 reduction in price. Discounts were all for just one year?  Some people may just want to stop here, and not go through with the total conversion. The decision to switch to digital here does not save you that much money. But what happens after one year? And we would still have 3 cable boxes and 2 controllers per television.
  3.  We asked about just retaining the 300 mps Optimum internet and landline only (my wife wants a landline), and received a $99 per month offer. In this case, we wanted to shut off the cable and return the 3 cable boxes ($11 each per month). An internet connection is needed to run the streaming services. After doing my research I discovered that Optimum is by far the best Internet service in our area. Yes, you would get to retain your Optimum e-mail.
  4. I changed over to Hulu, and worked with Hulu to make sure I understood exactly how to operate the Hulu service. It is very easy to use for live services, and offers many great streaming features including original programming.
  5. I left both Optimum and Hulu in place for 2 weeks while we tested the new Hulu service, and made sure we could operate all 3 TVs.  Hulu customer service is outstanding (and 24/7).
  6. We now need only 1 controller per TV. Digital operation is easy.
  7. I returned all cable boxes and controllers to the Norwalk store.

The financial decision is basically a wash; each service costs about the same.  But we decided to change because of the digital ease of use, one controller, removal of the cable boxes for every television, and Hulu’s much greater versatility in terms of live and streaming services and unique content…..

Other considerations: If you have televisions over 5 years old, you will have to add the Roku or Apple TV accessory to your set to adopt Hulu streaming. We bought a new digital Samsung 50-inch 8000 series television for $464 on Amazon. We put the Apple TV accessory on our older 50-inch Samsung. This Apple accessory also improves image quality.

The selection of streaming options like Amazon, Netflix, Disney+, HBOMax, AppleTV, etc. does not change this decision analysis. The selection of streaming services is a different part of your own financial decision.

(Here’s a decision that’s not hard: Support “06880.” We rely completely on reader donations. Please click here to help.)

23 responses to “Cutting Cable: The Decision Tree

  1. Susan Iseman

    This is excellent and so helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jack Backiel

    Life was so much easier when you had an aerial on the roof, got your eight or so TV stations, paid no monthly fee, and when the TV needed fixing, you called the TV repairman, and he came to your house and replaced a tube and charged you $3.00 dollars. Then you could turn on the TV snd watch ‘My Little Margie’

  3. Ernie Lorimer

    Somewhat annoying that there are three tiers of pricing: one for the normal schlebs, one highly variable one based on calling (but calling special numbers rather than customer service) and threatening to cancel, and one for new customers that is about a third of the normal pricing.

    This also points up a few things: 1) don’t build your life around optimum email. If you cancel service you’ll lose this; 2) if you accept a promotional package, you likely will have your upload speed cut to 5 or 10mbps from 35 or so.

  4. Darryl Manning

    We just went through a horrible experience with Optimum (in CT) and Spectrum (Maine). We moved our business & home from CT to Maine last week. Our business phone # was to be ported over to Spectrum (the only choice here in the Portland, Maine area). It was a complicated process, but was supposed to work. Ha! I had spoken to several Optimum Business employees multiple times over the last month to make sure we knew exactly what to do. I was told that I could disconnect the Optimum modem & router, prior to the move and that that would not effect the ability to port the phone #. After a week of waiting, calling, sitting on hold, being shuffled around from dept. to dept., Optimum finally admitted that the number was no longer portable because we’d disconnected the equipment. Too bad, too late. Utterly frustrating. What we’ve learned, most customer service, sales & tech support people have no idea what they are talking about. They are poorly trained, give incorrect information and take no responsibility for their mis-information. No recourse. By the way, Spectrum was no better to deal with, but that’s another story. Now we have to notify all of our clients, etc., of the new number and have had no phone service for nearly 2 weeks.

  5. Brian Strong

    Here are the well researched choices from
    An MIT engineer with 60 years computer background:
    1. Internet by fiber optic GoNetSpeed.
    2. Streaming from YoutubeTV – owned by Google
    And the superior software is obvious.
    3. WiFi 6E mesh routers. Available from several vendors.
    WiFi 6E is the right choice for anyone buying new
    Routers to “future proof” your investment. These
    Are Tri band routers that add the important 6KHZ
    Band on top of the 2.4 and 5khz of Wifi 6.
    The 6KHZ band will give you better performance
    As Apple and others incorporate it in their tech.

  6. Scott Weiner

    YES is a problem since the streaming services dropped it. Yankee fans out there need another solution if they give up Optimum.

    • John D McCarthy

      The YES Network is the only reason we can’t give up Optimum for TV. Any know of any alternatives?

      • John D McCarthy

        Alternatives aside from giving up on the Yankees?

        • Switch and become a Red Sox fan.

          • John D McCarthy

            I knew that was coming.

          • While certainly an entertaining response, the sad part is that Red Sox fans are screwed in this neck of the woods should they wish to support their team. Think about it: The Red Sox should be viewed as New England’s team, and last I checked Westport is part of New England, but you can’t “consistently” watch a Red Sox game in Fairfield County. Why? Because Red Sox games are shown on NESN, and that channel is only carried by Optimum IF you live in New Haven or north of it. Meaning that even if I wanted to pay Optimum money to get NESN they don’t/can’t offer it because this is “Yankee” country, so only YES gets offered. It’s so damn absurd because it isn’t as if YES should be worried about Yankee fans converting over to being Red Sox fans and deciding to subscribe to NESN rather than YES. You are clearly one or the other. To those that say that a Sox fan can subscribe to the MLB app. and stream games that way, I say “good luck” as I’ve given them 2 chances already and I won’t be back for round 3 because I would consistently receive a message stating that the game is “Blacked Out in my area”, something that should ONLY happen if they are in NY playing a NY team. Yet it happened regardless of where they were playing in the USA, and the MLB app. staff had no explanation as to why….never again.
            Bottom line…’s frustrating to not be able to do something as simple as doling out money to watch whatever damn team you want to root for no matter where you reside.

            • Russell Gontar

              In Red Sox nation, you can only watch their games in market on NESN, which requires cable. The days of turning on your “Tv”, adjusting the antenna and enjoying the Sox on channel 25 or 38, or watching the yanks on WPIX, for free, are a long, distant memory. How is an 8 year old going to become a baseball fan if he or she can’t even watch a single game? And Major League Baseball couldn’t care less. They’re too busy getting ready for advertisements on uniforms and the playing field, robot umpires, ghost runners and banning the shift.

          • Russell Gontar

            As a life long Yankees fan living in “Red Sox nation” since 1974, I wouldn’t recommend that.

        • Russell Gontar

          MLB.TV will stream most games for $75-100 for a season. The only other option is MLB extra innings which is an add on to a cable subscription for about $140/season.

          • John D McCarthy

            Yankee games are blacked out in Westport and the rest of NY area on MLB.TV. It is a great service when traveling out of the area.

  7. Melinda Hemson

    I live in a different part of the state now but 4 years ago, I realized that no one in my house was really using the cable TV anymore. I was newly divorced and paying $310.00 a month for something that was not being used. We have comcast here and had been a customer for 16 years at that point. I had every service they offered and many premium channels but they really didn’t care so I canceled everything except the internet. I ended up paying $99.00 for internet and another $100.00 a month for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. After 1 year, my internet went up to $140.00 a month. Comcast said it was because of new technology aimed at better service but nothing really changed or got better. In fact, my service got worse.
    Last December, GoNetSpeed came to our area. I waited to see how others in town fared and ultimately decided to switch. I pay $70.00 a month, have more speed and have not had any issues. Customer service is so much better than Comcast was. I thought I was happy with Comcast all those years but honestly, I was so so wrong. At least a few times a week, I would have to restart my router for reasons I never understood and when it rained, forget it. I thought it was my house but turns out, at my workplace, we have the same problems with Comcast.
    Long story short (Haha!), if GoNetSpeed is available in Westport, I would happily suggest them.

  8. Our history, situations and economics for the changeover to streaming are just about identical to this experience by a fellow Westporter.

    We went from lots of cable issues and a $350 a month bill to streaming and great TV offerings.

    In our case we elected to go with Optimum 1G fiber optic internet and telephone for $45 a month and what a a fast internet Wifi !

    I think the reason Optimum responed so well to the poster’s situation is that Optimum now has finally woken up to the fact that Cable is Dying as streaming is a far lower expense and offers a better TV service than cable.

    The situation now with cable is like what has taken place with a lot of products and services. Think about the last time you bought and used film for your cameras !

    Wonder what the future of communications will be with satellites ! Wow !

  9. Diana Pils Marino

    I agree. Here in N Stamford we have Frontier for internet, no land lines, and use Hulu. Cablevision took out the cables on our road then never answered the phones and never came back. Everyone was traveling in April May here on the property so I called Hulu (after 3 weeks w NO tv). It is simple and customer service is wonderful. We pay $107 a month including Disney, ESPN, Starz and Showtime and full TV. We love it and .. yes .. no box or additional remotes needed!

  10. Very Helpful Advise .. I lowered my Optima bill down to $120.00 per month , for One Year .. I have 3 Samsung Tv’s with One remote per television .. I also went with a Super fast wireless mesh system , that even works in my detached workshop .. 20 feet away from the house .. The only equipment that I have from Optima , is their wired modem .. My service includes 1 Gig internet with Optima Voice . ( Hard phone line ) I also went with Hulu for my TV .. P/S .. I did not want the new Fibre Optic service Yet , due to it still has major Gremlin issues ..

  11. Richard Freeman

    Totally agree with cutting the cable cord. Wish I had done it sooner. Some of my decisions that may help others. I went with Fubo for streaming as it was the only service that carried the Tennis Channel. Did an Amazon Firestick as it integrates nicely with Amazon account. A bit light on storage but I got a little piece of hardware that takes care of that. Makes your old dumb TV into a new smart TV. Bonus here is that you can easily take the Firestick with you when you travel so you can take all your viewing choices with you. I hated the Optimum interface–so hard to use and not user friendly at all. And of course, just hated dealing with Optimum at any level. I have the 200 level internet and that seems fine as we have no gamers in our house. Maybe I will try a faster speed. I am stuck with them as my wife will not give up her Optimum email. We decided to go all the way and got rid of the phone once we realized that only my 90 year old mother-in-law used that to reach us. Have not missed the home phone for a minute.

  12. kathleen Dehler

    Lets Go Mets!!!

  13. Stacy Prince

    I’m jealous of everyone who can give up the landline/VoIP–I’ve found Verizon so unreliable lately that I don’t want to have it as my only option.

  14. No nood to give up landlines or original phone number.
    Optimum has wired a great deal of Westpot with fiber optic service.
    Foa about $45 a month hou can have a reliable fiber optic hard landline telephone service with you existing land line phone number preserved and at the same time you can have up to 1000mgps internet service for that same $45 .
    Cut thet old cable, go streaming, save a good chunk of monthly expense and hassles! And come into the new decade of streaming ! JMHO