Cutting the Cord

We recently cancelled our cable TV. We’re an Apple household, so we get most our stuff from AppleTV apps now. In addition to the usual Netflix and Amazon, here’s what we use.

iTunes: We purchased episodes of The Expanse (which airs on SyFy) on iTunes. We’ll have to do the same thing if we want to watch Better Call Saul. That, or wait for it to come on Netflix.

HDHomeRun: This is a TV tuner with an Ethernet port. An app on the AppleTV streams the video. This is working great for local broadcast channels. We use it the occasional live sports broadcast, a few network shows (The Good Place and Saturday Night Live come to mind), the BBC stuff that airs on PBS, and whatever else might show up on broadcast.

Channels DVR: This works with the HDHomeRun and runs on my QNAP NAS (which I already had). It writes the digital broadcast stream to the NAS and comes with an AppleTV app which ties it all together. The same app can either stream the broadcast from the tuner, or stream recorded shows from the NAS. The DVR service costs $8/month, which give you the schedule data and the ability to sechedule a season pass, etc. The price is on the high side for comparable services. There’s no contract, so I can switch if I figure out a better service.

I tried Hulu, both with and without the live TV option. Neither one was completely satisfactory. For example, I didn’t watch the first episode of The Good Place Season 2 soon enough, and it becase unavailable. A broadcast show unavailable? What am I paying for? That won’t be a problem if I record a broadcast off my HDHomeRun.

There’s one more service we use that isn’t generally available–membership to the Austin Film Society. They have a membership level that comes with free movie tickets for a montly fee. We live a few minutes away from their new theater, and we average about two films a week.

What’s missing is premium cable. We have no HBO or Showtime. If we had HBO, we would have watched the latest season of Silicon Valley and Westworld. There’s enough other stuff on that I can’t say I miss it too much. When Game of Thrones comes on, we will subscribe to HBO Now, but until then we have plenty of stuff to watch.