We’ve had a DirecTV satellite dish attached to our house for over 15 years. And during that time we’ve enjoyed a good working relationship with DirecTV. In fact, they were my favorite service provider. Whenever our bill increased, I’d give them a call and they’d give us discounts that kept our payment reasonable. (We had Choice Extra which includes 185 channels and two HD DVRs for $74 a month.) I had every expectation that we would continue our service with them after we moved. What follows is why we cut the cord.
In early January, in preparation for our move, I contacted DirecTV. The timing of our move was such that we had already closed on our new house on December 23 while our Scottsdale home was scheduled to close on January 23. Our move presented an excellent opportunity to upgrade to DirecTV’s wireless Genie and transfer the service into my name since I make payments. (service was originally set up in Claire’s name.)
Our preferred option was to establish service at our new house on January 17 while continuing our current service until January 21. I called DirecTV and spoke with multiple customer service reps for about two hours. Finally, exhausted and frustrated I gave up. Instead of trying to make that option work, I thought it best to keep it simple and proceed with a standard move. So next day I contacted their move department. They said it would cost $300 for the Genie upgrade and that they needed my Social Security number in order to run a credit check on me. I reminded them that I’ve paid their bill for over 15 years (my name appears in their system) which got me exactly nowhere. So I hung up and called back to speak with their customer retention department whose job is to do whatever is necessary to keep people from cancelling. Their best offer was to lower the Genie installation to $100. But they still insisted on running a credit check on me. I objected but they wouldn’t budge. So I had them proceed to cancel our service. I was surprised they gave up so easily. Thus ended what had been a perfectly fine relationship. Looking back, my main issue was being treated like a complete stranger.
Discovering a Better Way
After breaking up with DirecTV, I checked out DISH Network because I’d read and heard good things. However I decided against DISH because I was reluctant to make a two year commitment. Next I looked into web-based services. I know several people who successfully use Apple TV and Roku. After more digging, I decided to go with Roku which provides a small box that connects to our TV and home network. It cost $99.
Roku supports heavy streaming in HD, 4K, HDR and Dolby. Set up was a cinch. After connecting Roku to our network and TV, I followed the on screen prompts which included an activation code. I simply logged into my Roku account on my PC (which I created earlier) and entered the code. Very easy.
While Roku provides some content, you really need to layer on apps. Our first app was Hulu for live TV ($55 per month). Hulu provides nearly everything we watch except for AMC and PBS. We added the PBS streaming app ($5 per month) and decided to forgo AMC for now. To enable Hulu and PBS we went through a similar activation procedure which went off without a hitch.
A New Viewing Experience
Watching TV now is more like interacting with our phone or PC. Here’s what’s comes up when we turn on Roku.
To watch Hulu, we simply scroll to Hulu and click OK. Hulu’s interface looks like this. (Note the option to watch live TV which includes a channel guide. We even get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage which so far we haven’t needed.
No Turning Back
At this point, there’s absolutely no way we’d ever go back to DirecTV. Not only is Roku/Hulu cheaper, we prefer the experience.
- In addition to live TV, there’s a tremendous amount of content readily available to stream which means we don’t have to spend time managing recordings on a DVR.
- The Hulu app on my PC and phone is easier to use and works better.
- It’s easy to manage our programming because we can do it from the apps on a PC or phone.
- We’re able to listen to Spotify which is infinitely more capable than the music channels that DirecTV provides. With Spotify we can listen to CDs, playlists and many niches of a music genre. And Spotify has a huge library. Bottom line is that we have control!
- We used to enjoy watching music videos on VH1 but they changed their programming so we stopped watching. Now we have a large selection available from Vevo.
- We don’t have a satellite dish attached to our house which is a nicer look.
We are very happy to have cut the cord (or disconnect from the satellite). We’re looking forward to enjoying a better viewing and listening experience for years to come!
If you’ve cut the cord, what’s been your experience?
This article is a continuation of my series chronicling our move to a 55+ community. If you’d like to catch up, here’s a link to the first article: In Search of Community