Entertainment

Cord Cutting May Be a ‘Choice’ Christmas Gift

TV viewing has gone way beyond pesky cable packages

One of the great attributes in America is choice. We have countless choices in almost everything we buy and consume. I’s one of the fabulous benefits of free markets. However, some markets have taken a long time to catch up — and television is one of them.

Once upon a time, a few pesky cable packages were the only way for a person to consume television. You couldn’t pick and choose programming, and prices were set by a small number of competitors.

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While cable packages haven’t gone away, we have more choices than ever. Online subscriptions services like Netflix and Hulu provide original programming, as well as alternative choices for watching our favorite shows — and they’re cheaper.

According to an estimate from SNL Kagan, which measures the values of various companies and markets, the number of people “cutting the cord” to their cable packages in favor of better online options hit a record number in the second quarter of 2016. Some 812,000 people canceled their cable packages — and the number of cable subscribers decreased by 1.4 million people from the year before.

Another study from over the summer by Gfk, another market research company, found that a record 25 percent of households in America don’t subscribe to any cable and have turned to alternative means of consuming content. In the 18-34 age demographic, 22 percent of people buck cable in favor of newer, easier methods. And the cord-cutting revolution is only expected to get bigger in 2017.

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Related: 6 Cord-Cutting Tips

Cutting the cord has never been easier or cheaper, and it may be the perfect gift to yourself this Christmas. Or perhaps you’re one of the many Americans who already has said goodbye to the confines of cable packages — and you need to introduce the benefits of freedom in content watching to parents or grandparents who are still stuck in the old ways.

Here are some cheap and easy ways to get that process done. While everyone knows about Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, they’re not always enough to convince people to drop expensive cable packages. However, there are growing subscription services that are slowly and surely successfully replacing old school live television.

Amazon Prime Video may not have the name its competitors do, but it’s growing in big ways. In just the last year, the video streaming service (which is less than $10 a month) offered “add-on” channels that include Starz, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and many more. The “add on” channels are typically less than $10 a month and offer the up-to-date library of a company’s shows.

Choice is finally here when it comes to television.

Through cable packages, you need a bundle of expensive channels you don’t want before you can even start thinking about paying extra to catch the latest episodes of “Game of Thrones” and “Shameless.” An Amazon Video subscription can cut those costs and help you or a loved one have a cheaper way to pay for your favorite channels, with the added benefit of Amazon’s growing library of films and television. All one needs to work the subscription is a Wi-Fi enabled Blu-Ray player (which can cost less than $50 today), or an Amazon Fire Stick (which plugs directly into your television) or Roku device — both can be found for prices starting between $30 and $40.

Speaking of Roku, the simple device makes another perfect gift to help replace cable packages. The device (which can run as high as $120) offers all the streaming choices you want. From your television, one can plug straight into Netflix, Hulu, or any of the single channel subscriptions (offered by places like Showtime and CBS).

Sling TV is still relatively young, but the year-old company is estimated by SNL Kagan to have some 1 million subscribers already. For subscriptions between $20 to $40, customers can get a variety of channels and watch them live, just as with a cable subscription, but for far less.

Channels offered include ESPN, AMC, Disney Channel, Comedy Central, History, and many more — including a variety of channels that provide their library of content as opposed to live viewing.

DirectTV NOW is the newest to the streaming field. Like Sling TV, customers can watch live television for a fraction of the cost of cable (which can average over $100 a month). For $35 a month, you get 60 channels and for $70 a month, you get 120 channels.

Whether you need a gift for yourself or loved one or a way to save a few dollars in 2017, cutting the cord has never been easier, cheaper, or more full of options. American markets should be about choice and choice is finally here when it comes to television. Break the chains of the old guard — and join the revolution.

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