I'm a cable glutton. I pay for a full package from AT&T's (NYSE:T) DirecTV with HBO and Showtime. I also have DISH Network's Sling TV for travel and use in our vacation home along with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime (though I don't pay for that because of the video), WWE Network, DC Universe, Hulu, and almost certainly something I'm forgetting.
Even though cutting the cord would make sense for me, I have always been willing to pay in order to not miss out. Maybe I will want to watch Australian rules football, robots fighting, or biographies of celebrities I barely remember, and not having a 235-plus-channel cable package (DirecTV apparently can't count exactly how many I'm getting) would mean I wouldn't be able to.
In addition, until recently no discount streaming cable alternative offered a package that included local channels and the cable networks most important to me, my wife, and our 15-year-old son. Of course, I hadn't looked all that hard because I wanted to have that access to Mexican pro wrestling, Spanish translations of Bollywood films, and a station that's always airing The Shawshank Redemption that the full cable (satellite in my case) package gets you.
That changed when I noticed my monthly bill had crept over the $200 mark.
Check out the latest earnings call transcript for AT&T.
What did I do?
When I saw that my DirecTV bill had risen to $204.95 per month, I considered my options. Since I live in a condo, there's no option to select another provider or play two against each other. Because of that, my first stop was to check whether I could downgrade my cable package.
Doing that did not produce meaningful savings until the cuts I made actually caused me to lose channels someone in the family would consider important. With that option off the table, I considered switching completely to Sling TV, but the lack of local channels (and complete failure at picking them up via antenna) eliminated that option as well.
A quick check of the various services showed only one -- Hulu Live -- that offered local channels, and the weird mix of cable options that three people with very different entertainment needs all wanted most. That's not a slam on any of the other services. Any skinny bundle comes with sacrifices, and Hulu simply matched our needs better than the alternatives.
How much will I save?
Once we decided that Hulu Live would work, we dropped our roughly $30-a-month Sling TV package. We've also made plans to cut the cord with DirecTV, though we're giving ourselves a couple of weeks to catch up on shows saved to our DVR.
Once that relationship ends we'll cut another $204.95 in monthly bills, bringing our total cuts to about $234.95. Our Hulu package, which includes HBO, and an entertainment channels add-on pack will cost $67.87, leaving us over $166 ahead each month.
I'll almost certainly add ESPN+ ($4.99 a month) at some point, along with the not-yet-launched Disney+ (which Walt Disney has not released a price for). Even with those two additions, I'll still be spending around $150 a month without sacrificing any programming that's important to my family.
We weren't looking to cut the cord, and I was actually willing to pay pretty dearly to feel I was getting everything. Two hundred dollars, or $204.95, just seemed to be past the point of greed -- a number so big that it felt irresponsible not to do something different.