So, first thing’s first, what in the world does it mean to be a “cord-cutter?” The term “cord cutter” is used to refer to a growing community of people who are cutting ties, so to speak, with traditional cable companies (hence the “cord”). Cord cutters are those of us who have gone completely digital when it comes to the ways in which we access our media and entertainment content. Instead of paying $50, $60, $70 a month for traditional cable plans (and their unavoidable commercials, preprogrammed broadcast schedules, and overall inconvenience and price), cord-cutters have opted to go, rogue, building their own more customizable plans off of the building blocks of all of the digital streaming services at our disposal.
As a cord-cutter myself, I am in full control of what content I pay for. I know exactly what my money is going to, and it is not so much a somewhat arbitrary grouping of networks, many of which I won’t bother to watch ever anyway (why should I be paying for, say, the Home and Garden Network when I know that is something I’ll never tune into?). So, instead, I have crafted a list of individual streaming services, all of which produce or carry the content that I know I want.
Just to give you a taste of what I mean, here is my personal customized list of services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO. These are the only services that I pay for monthly. With this particular combination of streaming sites, I can be pretty much guaranteed to be able to view almost all the content that I want to see, without paying extra for networks I don’t care about. And I’m able to manage this for under $40 a month … a much lower cost than even the most basic of cable packages.
Of course, cutting the cord does come with hurdles and challenges of its own. For instance, what do I do when a show airs on, say, NBC? Well, for many of the NBC shows that I like, they are added to Hulu the next day. So, that’s one solution … but if I absolutely cannot wait, there are additional tools and services out there that I can utilize to problem solve.
For instance, maybe I’ll torrent the show the minute that it finishes airing. Maybe I’ll make use of one of the many free TV streaming sites that can be found on the web with a little digging. Maybe I’ll plug a digital antenna into my smart TV to catch local broadcasts. Or perhaps I’ll go the old-fashioned route and hit up a friend who has a cable that also wants to watch the show.
The point is, there are plenty of ways around the old model of cable TV viewing that, with just a little bit of planning and ingenuity, all but render traditional cable service providers obsolete in the digital age. Cord-cutting may not be for everyone, but if you are someone who feels like they are spending way too much money on their monthly cable bill, it is definitely worth at least considering.
There is plenty of information available online, too, for a would-be cord-cutter to learn all of the tricks and tactics of the lifestyle. If I were you, though, I would save myself the trouble of trying to dig through pages and pages of Google search results and just head straight to Reddit – the front page of the internet. Anyone familiar with Reddit knows that there is a subreddit for just about anything, and the subreddit r/CordCutters has been an infinitely useful resource for dodging traditional cable providers for years.
There are only a few instances a year, admittedly, that I need to consult r/CordCutters – for instance, when there is an awards show, a political debate, or any other big live event that is particularly difficult to find a stream of. But when I do find that I need it, it always comes in handy.
Cutting the cord has been a growing movement since the rise of streaming services began. Ever since streaming was in its infancy, from the earliest days of YouTube and, later, Netflix, people have begun finding alternate ways to access TV and movies. Nowadays, of course, you can pretty much find anything on the internet if you know where to look. And r/CordCutters has been helping people navigate this terrain since the community was founded on January 19th of 2011.
The act of cutting the cord, however, goes back much further in time than 2011. Even prior to this subreddit’s launch, people were cord-cutting and sharing information on how to subvert traditional cable on other message board sites and word of mouth. Free TV and movie streaming sites predate Netflix, actually, and P2P file sharing and torrenting were a beacon of free media for years before that even.
Actually, one could probably make the argument that there were cord-cutters even before the internet had become the institution that it is today. I’m thinking of black box cable of the 80s and 90s, wherein morally ambiguous cable technicians were offering people additional channels and access to pay per view events outside of the knowledge of the cable provider itself. Although these sorts of arrangements were not technically considered cord-cutting (mainly because the term hadn’t been invented yet), they were still a means of subverting the traditional model of cable TV providers.
Today, though, we do not have to go to such lengths to cut the cord. And it can be done in 100% legal ways. In a very general sense, even subscribing to Hulu TV would be considered, in a way, cutting the cord. That being said, though, if you’re strapped for cash (as many of us are), r/CordCutters has been a very active community of Redditors that have consistently provided solutions for alternative ways to watch TV since 2011.
I always turn to r/CordCutters when I am struggling to find a way to watch cable television (or, for that matter, anything media related – movies, sports broadcasts, PPV events, etc.). Once I became a member of r/CordCutters, I found it delightfully easy to post ahead of, say, a live airing of something asking what the best way to view it might be; within minutes, I found that most posts became inundated with comments offering solutions or solidarity. Since subscribing to r/CordCutters, I have not missed a single TV broadcast.
Some, of course, have been harder to pin down than others – yes, unfortunately, TV networks are becoming increasingly privy to us and our cord-cutting ways, and, thus, cracking down on content – but, ultimately, I have always been able to find a resource on r/CordCutters. In addition to posts wherein resources are offered for specific TV broadcasts and, more generally, great services to help us cut the cord once and for all, r/CordCutters is a hotbed of discussion, news, and discussion surrounding the switch to digital media.
Another endlessly helpful aspect of r/CordCutters is the fact that people are willing to help you out should you ever encounter a technical difficulty with one of your services or pieces of digital hardware. As per the About Community description of the subreddit: “We offer advice on live streaming and on-demand services, antennas, and OTA DVRs. Get help with your Smart TV, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Android TV. Discuss Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Learn about Sling TV, Disney+, FuboTV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, and Philo.”
Pricing and Plans
Reddit, of course, costs nothing to use (unless you want to upgrade to premium for $5.99/month and receive an ad-free experience). However, many cord-cutting services are going to cost you. Cutting the cord, in other words, does not mean free content. In many cases, the amount of money you spend will probably be just under, if not equal to, the amount that you would spend for basic cable. The point of cord-cutting, however, is not strictly about saving money (although that is integral). It is also about redistributing wealth so that there are not only a few cable networks and service providers who are raking in the dough when it comes to entertainment.
Suggestions that I have for r/CordCutters
I would like to see more pinned posts, especially for newcomers to the community. I think that r/CordCutters could do a better job of laying out a comprehensive beginners’ guide to cord-cutting, as some subreddits do by linking to resources on the front page. An r/CordCutters Wiki, for instance, could be endlessly helpful. Other than that, though, I think r/CordCutters is an endlessly useful resource, especially once you become better acquainted with cord-cutting in general.