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Cutting the Cord from Dish Network

I had been contemplating “cutting the cord” for years. Last fall, I finally did it.

In reality, it was more of a dismantling of the satellite dish (pictured above) so that I could return the required pieces back to the provider (leave it to me to wait until the first cold day of the fall, after several days of nice weather, to attempt this).

The idea of cancelling Dish had been on my mind for several years once the monthly bill went north of $100. Neither Meagan or I watch that much television so I always knew we were grossly overpaying. The trigger point came last October when Dish dropped one of the sports channel on my must-have list, and with indications strongly suggesting it would not be brought back, it was time to bail.

Prior to cancelling, I reviewed several options, including cable and streaming alternatives. Ultimately, I chose to give YouTube TV a try. It’s low monthly cost was what attracted me first. What sealed the deal was that it offered most of the channels we both deemed as must-have. With no contract or commitments, we had the flexibility to sample it for as long as we liked, and if it didn’t work out, we’d move onto something else.

After eight months, we both are very happy with the switch. Despite not having a couple of channels we would have preferred to have, the monthly savings more than make up for what we may occasional miss out on.

My initial worry was the potential for buffering. Thankfully, that rarely has ever become an issue. Even with our Internet speed averaging between 60 to 85 Mbps, I had no idea how live television streaming would hold up over the course of a month. Now with hindsight, I realize it probably would have been a non-issue because as I mentioned earlier, we don’t watch much live television. On a normal day, I watch far more content via regular YouTube while Meagan is more likely to stream Netflix, so what little YouTube TV we use probably doesn’t make much of a dent in our monthly home Internet usage.

YouTube TV works on all three of our televisions via Roku streaming sticks. And because it is streaming based, it also works very well from our phones and tablets. On the few occasions I’ve done so, it’s been nice to watch a specific show while out on an evening walk or during my lunch break at work. The user interface allows for ease-of-use from any device I’ve tried it with.

It is also great for households with multiple people. Tied into my personal Google account, I am the “master account” holder, while I can share the service with Meg by extending an invitation to her Google account. With that, we each have our own separate on-demand library, so our content never mixes. Since the basement television is primarily used by me, I have YouTube TV on that television signed in via my Google account while the living room television is signed into YouTube TV via her Google account.

I previously thought that could turn into a limitation if I wanted to watch any of my on-demand shows from the living room television. It turns out that’s not the case. I can easily switch out from Meagan’s account and sign into my own. Switching back-and-forth between two accounts afterwards is seamless.

The on-demand library may be slightly clunky. When recording a series, it records the same episode anytime it happens to replay, meaning you’ll have multiple listings of the same episode in your library. Another source of small frustration is when from the main menu screen, I’ve made the mistake of selecting recorded content when I thought I was selecting a show that was presently live. It happened when I selected a specific news program a few weeks ago and wondered why the on-screen clock was 20 minutes behind.

The first time this happened, many months ago, involved me trying to watch the Blackhawks. I knew they were playing that night against the Flames in Calgary. I selected the game from the menu with the intention to watch the game live. I watched most of the third period, and with a few minutes left and the Hawks up by many goals, I shut the game off. The next morning when I saw they had lost, I was dumbfounded. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the Hawks had played in Calgary on back-to-back Sunday nights. The game I thought I was watching live was a recording from the previous Sunday when they were in Calgary. While I am inclined to blame such a mistake as being an interface design issue, I am willing to consider that it could have been the result of human error on my part.

Either way, the switch from satellite to live streaming has been a positive so far. YouTube TV recently announced they were adding Viacom networks this summer, which means we will have Comedy Central (for me) and MTV (for Meg). HBO was recently made available as an add-on network as well.

While I am more than happy with the current arrangement, I sometimes wonder if it’s too good to be true. With Playstation Vue shutting down late last year and competing live streaming services recently invoking price increases, I wonder how much of a money maker or loser this is for providers. Not helping is my added worry concerning Google and how often they abandon services. Until anything radically changes, I intend to enjoy the service.

If the time comes to where we do have to find an alternative option, I just hope it doesn’t involve me having to reassemble the satellite dish.

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