Tag Archives: Hulu

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.)

Blockbuster On The Chopping Block?

Blockbuster is closing hundreds of stores — over 500 this year, on top of 374 last year.  In the most recent quarter the once-swaggering company lost $435 million — on top of a $360 million loss a year ago.

I hadn’t thought about Blockbuster in years — in today’s world there’s Netflix (the old-fashioned mail way, plus its streaming service), Hulu, and 5  new technologies that were announced just last night — but the news made me think about my old (very old) friend on the Post Road.  It shrunk to half its size last year, ceding the east end to a big-and-tall clothing store (not my cup of tea).

I couldn’t imagine Blockbuster’s business model working in Westport anymore.  Particularly when the library offers DVDs for the fairly low price of free.

I called the Westport store.  A chirpy voice answered — a ringing phone was probably the most excitement she’d had all day.

“Blockbuster is shutting lots of stores,” I said.  “Is Westport one of them?”

“We’re fine,” she replied.

“Well, how’s business?” I asked.

“Do you need something?” she countered.

“Like someone else I can talk to there?” I said.  I was thinking like, you know, a manager.

“Like a DVD?” she wondered.

No.  I did not need a DVD.

And I don’t know anyone else in Westport who still needs anything from Blockbuster.

Which is why I’m not sure business really is fine, over at the local “video rental store.”