Cutting The Cord/Trashing The Dish

Last Sunday I wrote about the over the top video market and made some observations about it in light of the challenges we were having getting our satellite dish working again.

In the week that passed, we had another no-show appointment by DirectTV, more success watching whatever we want on our AppleTVs, and on Friday I called up DirectTV and canceled my re-install order for our beach house once and for all and we are now officially off of traditional “cable TV” out here.

After canceling our re-install order and shutting down the account we have had for twenty years, I paid for a Hulu and a YouTube TV subscription and checked out DirectTV Now.

I was surprised that DirectTV Now has no incentives for existing DirectTV subscribers to purchase it. You don’t get a reduced price or free access. I decided to pass on it and see if Hulu and YouTube TV get it done for me.

Finally, we went out in our backyard and got the 20-year-old satellite dish and tossed it in the garbage truck when it stopped by to pick up the trash.

It feels good to be done with the world of wires and set-top boxes and truck rolls and all of that. I won’t miss it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. gregorylent

    haven’t owned a tv in more than 20 years … the advertisements drove me away, as well as the insultingly banal content ..i am beginning to feel the same about the internet .. advertising is one of the most dehumanizing influences we have in modern culture, manipulating fellow humans for personal gain ..

    1. ThatOtherOtherGuy

      The obligatory humble brag post on an article about viewing TV from someone who doesn’t watch TV.Talk about insultingly banal…

      1. Susan Rubinsky


      2. LE

        Not to mention that the indicated complaint ‘the advertisements drove me away’ isn’t an issue because you can get rid of those with a DVR.Although I don’t watch much TV, I have one and continue to pay for service. And I can assure everyone that there are plenty of intelligent people that like to watch stupid shows (I am not one of those people but I definitely know those people.). Freeman Dyson watched Family Feud. Many Physicians that I have met watch stupid stuff and enjoy it after a tough day thinking. Right along side the people with the plaid couches and plush carpeting in middle America. That haul away others trash or wait on them in diners.My point is you are right it’s (often) a humble brag. Maybe not the case here but worth mentioning. It’s the same as people who think they are somehow more sophisticated (or better) if they travel to exotic places [1], drink wine, listen to or sing opera, go to art galleries, go to church every week, Vegan, Organic, Yoga, Meditation (I am straying a bit) and so on. I am not taking issue with any of these things just the idea that it somehow elevates you over the guy who fly’s RC Gas Helicopters which is the example I like to use. That is by the way way way way way more difficult. Ditto for becoming an Eagle Scout which one of our commenters at least that I know has done. That is something to brag about honestly.My humble brag is that I’ve made money watching stupid reality TV. My other humble brag is that I’ve made a lot of money reading traditional print newspapers. That is not why I do it but that’s my humble brag.Lastly if you already have cable service for Internet given what TV’s cost it really makes no sense to own one even in the case of some national emergency it is for sure a better way to stay informed. And if you don’t have internet it still makes sense to have something that can receive an over the air signal in the same situation.[1] Not an ordinary Island Location (or Miami Beach) but ‘some place you have never heard of that doesn’t even have a web page and you can’t even get Internet service so I can unplug for the week!’

        1. creative group

          LE:And I can assure everyone that there are plenty of intelligent people that like to watch stupid shows (I am not one of those people but I definitely know those people), LECan you list the programs you do watch and then let us decide if they are stupid shows. 🙂 One person stupid is another persons intelligent.We rarely watch TV but when we do (The most interesting man quote)1. ESPN 2. BBC3. PBS Newshour4. Power (Miss the old Dick Wolf’s New York Undercover the only reason we follow it)5. The Weather Channel 6. History Channel 7. NASA TVHopefully our viewing programming isn’t in the stupid category. We know that Power viewing could sink the entire ship. :-)Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

        2. Susan Rubinsky

          I still lug around an old black rotary phone. People were amazed during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy that I could call them. Unfortunately, land lines are now over the internet, not old school copper. So the phone sits collecting dust in my basement.I also have a wind up device for radio, flashlight & cell phone charging.

          1. LE

            I still lug around an old black rotary phone.I have one of those and I’ve posted a picture of it a few times here. Very heavy.Unfortunately, land lines are now over the internet, not old school copper.At our office condo the management office person was making fun of someone that asked whether when we said the power was going off (we have to replace a transformer so everything will be shut down for a day) if the phones would work. She related that (in an email) as if that was stupid to ask.In the nicest way I could (trying not to make her feel bad for saying what she said) I explained that old style phones work off of 5v and the power is piped from the phone company. (Over copper). Hence they would typically work in a power outage. I then explained that if someone had a UPS on the equipment the phones would also work even when we were pulling the power. That said the cable companies don’t provide a great deal of power to their equipment on the street. So that will go down after some time. Not like old days where the 5v just came over the wire (note I see now it’s not exactly 5v it’s 6v but hey concept is correct this is why I don’t test well!)https://www.instructables.c…It wasn’t an age thing either. The woman (management office) was in her late 40’s but I guess that is not someone people normally think about.

        3. Susan Rubinsky

          I love that you read newspapers. I do too. I spend so much of my life in front of a screen that there is great pleasure in sitting down on my porch in the morning with a cup of coffee to read the paper. I love the tactile experience. I also see headlines that I might otherwise not on the internet. I read paper magazines too (WIRED, National Geographic, The Sun, Vanity Fair, Bloomberg Weekly, etc.)

          1. LE

            I love the tactile experience. I also see headlines that I might otherwise not on the internet.I actually shoot pictures of articles and headlines that I read that I find interesting as well as story snippets. My time to read the paper is when I am eating dinner typically. My two papers are the WSJ (daily) and NY Times (weekend) and also some local papers.

      3. Richard

        The no TV brag doesn’t come close to the Ive been there vacation brag.

      4. gregorylent

        lol .. you sound irritated ..

  2. William Mougayar

    Just to tell everybody how absurd things are in Canada, to get over the air TV service, the CRTC (regulator) allowed a few companies to serve that market, but ONLY IF you also buy Internet service from them (i.e. they force you to bundle Internet + TV). This is so they don’t compete so easily with Rogers, Bell or Shaw who are the monopoly holders for TV, Internet and satellite.

    1. jason wright

      sounds reassuringly corrupt 🙂

    2. OldManGoldenwords

      Canada is incentivising the inefficiency

  3. Gregg Freishtat

    Trashed my dish about a month ago and find everything I want (not easily) with FireTv (Prime account with prime video) and Sling. When ever I cannot find what I want (The Open this morning) I simply download a new app (NBC Sports) and there it is….. I assume someone will create a better directory to eliminate the need to constantly shift between apps.

  4. awaldstein

    So basically Apple TV and apps?That’s our config and never think it could be different.Especially now in the city with Fios.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      LOVE Fios. We had it in our summer cottage in RI. I would switch from Optimum but it’s not available here in CT.

  5. harvestgrand

    @Fred If you no longer have Dish, what are you using to get internet access? Are you just using your phones data? How will you watch sports?

    1. fredwilson

      Cable internet

  6. Joe Lazarus

    I tried to not use cable TV for a few weeks. I used Hulu instead. I found their Interface frustrating in a lot of small ways (can’t skip some ads, fast forwarding is clunky, etc). I’m back to cable now, but plan to try another experiment with YouTube TV. I’d love to cut the cord entirely.

  7. Dennis Mangalindan

    I would be interested to hear more about your foray into GoogleTV after 30 days. Is the quality of the broadcast on par or better w/cable or DirectTV, do you have access to all of your channels, more importantly do you believe cable channels and independent stations have an opportunity for wider distribution through the ‘GoogleTV’ model? Last question, what is your position on the ‘buy what you need/use’ for cable TV vs the bundled approach which extracte high fees from subscribers. I’ve wanted to cut the cord for years but feel trapped by cables mono poly on broadband. #loveAVCDennis

  8. Josh Gordon

    Have been using YouTube TV since the day came out; it is a pleasure – and sometimes pain. It’s overall a good app but still immature, with multiple bugs when paired with a chromecast TV, including automatic resolution detection that is not always functional forcing you to change resolution every time you change channels, ads that stream at 240p, volume controls that are not always functional, and more. I trust they will get there, and admit it has been an absolute pleasure finally telling TWC (aka Spectrum) goodbye, but I think YMMV depending on your individual configuration.

  9. Ryan

    We’ve been on YouTube TV for almost a year now. We were leery of making the switch, but I didn’t want to pay for cable at home and our lake house – found it ridiculous I couldn’t use the my TWC app to stream away from “home”.The channel selection isn’t as “full” as cable, but it more than meets our needs when coupled with Netflix/Prime for movies.I get a TON of sports channels to choose from (watched rugby yesterday – and would have never before). I’m a big fan of golf, and watching the Open has been stellar on YouTube TV.From a technical standpoint, it’s been basically flawless running on Apple TVs and our iPhone/iPad.The other nice bonus is, we have been grandfathered in at $35 a month while they have been adding channels.The overall clincher was the ability to get our local news, and be able to view it when away from home.It’s slick!

  10. Matt Zagaja

    The only reason I have cable is Comcast offers what I dub the “millennial” package which is basic cable + Internet + HBO for the same price as their basic Internet package and buying HBO Now separately.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I don’t think I would refer to it as that. I would refer to it as we have you by the (insert politically incorrect statement here).That is why people hate CableTV companies, and phone companies, and Dish, and DirectTV.No show twice??? Hey you hire cheap as shit contractors that is what they do. But they don’t care.

      1. LE

        I have that at the office. They required TV service (at the office once again) in order to get a discount on the other services. I have never hooked up a TV to it. Last time I had a TV in the office was back during the OJ trial. It was there because I had moved and needed a place to store it. Then I moved and the over the air TV came in handy during 911. Someone sent an email that was watching it I turned on the TV (over the air) and saw the 2nd building get hit iirc.Anyway I have figured out that the reason they do this must have to do with needing the higher number of subscribers for some other purpose. Like selling local advertising. This is similar to newspapers giving away a certain amount of papers for free (like USA today at hotels or for less revenue) so they can build the circulation to boost advertising or some other benefit. That I have figured out must be the reason. Because that is what a shady sharp operator such as myself (humble brag) would do. (strikeout intentional). Of course with cable there is no audit bureau of circulation so it’s the perfect crime. Nobody will dig and see that someone isn’t watching or doesn’t need it. And your numbers can’t go down, right? They have to go up. Numbers must always go up or everyone freaks out. They won’t look as hard if you paid to get those numbers up for some promotion.Hey you hire cheap as shit contractors that is what they do.I will defend them here. They have a great deal of people doing this work. The market is price driven. People will not pay higher numbers that would allow them to pay enough money to get better people. And that assumes those people are even out there. They really aren’t. At least not without a great deal of work to find and train them. More than the payoff they would get. And then they’d have to raise everyone for thousands of workers. They are kind of stuck.And why should they? You are right they do have you by the balls. If someone else wants to take a risk and jackhammer sidewalks and hire expensive lawyers to get towns to let them do that they can be in the same place. Actually seems very fair to me. You work hard and then you get the spoils.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      From 2010-2014, I had that same package because it was cheaper than internet alone.

  11. jason wright

    ‘Cutting the Cord/ Ditching the Dish’ – a bit of a tongue twister, but i like it.Corporations abuse loyal customers. They are taken for granted,

    1. fredwilson

      I like ditching the dish. Wish I had written that headline

      1. jason wright

        too much on your plate?oh, a further iteration – ‘dump(ster) the dish’. that’s much better. it’s in harmony with your photo.

  12. Christopher Hart

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see an incentive from DirectTV to move to their online service once someone of influence reads your post; it’s just to obvious. As a consumer, love the choices competition brings to the market.

  13. Christopher Seshadri

    Congrats Fred! This was a big move for my family as well and I took it very seriously. Just thought i’d Share this with you and your audience.WHY WE CHOSE:Apple TV&PS VueI decided to experiment across Hulu Live, Sling TV, and PSVue all at the same time. Also bought Roku, chromecast, fire stick, and Apple TV to weigh out all variables of streaming devices thru a proper analysis. Without going into too much detail, it was bugginess, user interface, and channel offerings that were my focus. The winner, PS Vue with Apple TV. Keep in mind you don’t need a PlayStation to use PS Vue. It’s a service app just like the others – I think they should drop the PS and change the name to “Vue” to avoid that confusion.PS Vue is great, has every channel we need plus more. It also has the TV time grid we are all accustomed to. Was shocked that sling and Hulu didn’t. Sling and Hulu were also very buggy.Apple TV was a home run. Casting with chromecast is a mess with lots of errors. Plus we all prefer having some sort of remote assigned for viewing the TV. Apple TV remote is simple and sleek. Also Apple TV apps are amazing. Vast selection of games too (I predict Apple TV with Bluetooth game controllers will be the future of gaming). More importantly, it’s clearly evident that companies invest more time and capital into their Apple TV apps than that of Roku apps or fire stick. We even bring one of our Apple TV devices with us on vacation and use it in hotels to have access to our DVR’d shows and games for the kids. Even though seldomly used on vaca, it comes thru clutch when the opportunity arises.We save money, about $100/month. But I must say that even if it were more expensive, we would still do it. Never once was I like, “Man, I wish we stuck with cable TV!” The needle shows the world is moving towards steaming and I don’t think it will reverse. But one day I bet our internet providers will be charging us a lot more thanks to net neutrality. We’re in a good window right now for saving money the next few years. I just don’t think it will last once the majority crowd starts streaming.We also have Netflix and that’s another great bang for your buck. That too will increase in price. So enjoy it now! With all the original content they have plus other offerings, it’s so underpriced right now it’s practically a gift. Even the NFLX stock has moved up in value anticipating higher revenue per subscriber down the line.Tip:Always hardwire your streaming device to Ethernet cable for best experience.Hope this info was helpful input by a former Wall Street “risk vs reward” specialist who turned entrepreneur. Starting a business has rewired my brain to always look for inefficiencies and fix them. Another plus is that it seems I apply it to my day to day as well!

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I had some issues with Chromecast in the beginning — I bought it for my son for a stocking stuffer the first year it was released — but haven’t had any issues in the last couple of years (we are still using the original chromecast stick I bought way back when) on an even older TV (about 10 years old). I’m on Droid/PCs here so not sure if you were running from Apple devices. But on Droid it works wonderfully well!

      1. Christopher Seshadri

        Thanks for the update. Your probably right. This experiment does go back a little over a year ago. One thing that was bothersome with it though is that it was double counted as devices used by some of the services. I remember Vue and Sling TV counting my phone device (controlling chromecast) AND chromecast itself as a separate device. So it would count as 2 devices being used which could be a problem when your limited to 3 or 5 in a household. Regardless, thank you for stating the improvements. I’m gonna revisit the chromecast because one of my favorite aspects was shouting to our google assistant “OK google, play funny dog videos on YouTube!” But I guess that can still work with the Apple TV remote mic. Love this competition tho. All great for us!

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Hahahhaaa. We stream bird videos and watch our cats go nuts trying to attack them on the tv.

          1. Christopher Seshadri

            Lol. Stuff like that will never get old.

      2. creative group

        Susan Rubinsky:we are second generation users of electronics in general. Refuse to pay for the best of the advertised best until the new iteration arrives. Just makes no sense to pay for the best double when it arrives initially.That being said we were surprise with the low prices of electronics (Phones and TV’s) that you are still hanging on to that old hardware. When you upgrade you will witness the speed and changes of new technology.10 years (TV) and over 3 (Chromecast). We couldn’t keep anything that long and we are bargain hunters. Every two or three years we upgrade phones when they are reasonable. We are currently awaiting when the LG V30 gets down in price in about one or two years.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

    2. William Mougayar

      Can you still access Vue when you travel outside of the US?

      1. Christopher Seshadri

        Good question. You most likely have to use a VPN as we did on a recent trip to Canada and it worked great.

        1. William Mougayar

          I am in Canada 🙂

  14. Salt Shaker

    AT&T, owners of DirecTV, now has $180B of debt on their books w/ the recent T-W acquisition. More debt than any other company (sans financials). You’d think they’d be a bit less cavalier w/ existing subs, no? Hard to understand how they’re gonna pay down that much debt in what fundamentally are becoming more and more commodity businesses.

    1. LE

      Think this is a case of ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it’. Guys at the top, the white men, don’t know what is going on unless there is some data or meeting that tells them it’s happening.I always thought that the cable companies were pretty good at BOGU. When you say you are leaving they send you to a department whose job it is to get you to stay. That has been figured out. That was the first thing I thought when Fred said he cancelled it. Why didn’t they send him to some cubicle whose job it was to throw him some bone to not cancel the install.

      1. Salt Shaker

        With two no-shows, Fred may have been beyond the pt. of no return. They may (and prob did) incent him to stay. CSRs are trained to offer the world to retain a sub. The entertainment space is increasingly fragmented. Good for consumers as OTT provides choice.

        1. LE

          What’s the expression? You remember this one. ‘Crusin for a brusin’. Fred was doing that. He was looking for a reason to justify blowing them off.This is what happens when the world is driven by low prices and a company (that importantly caters to the masses) can’t pay enough to hire good people. Or those good people want to work making more and having a better job.I am waiting right now for pricing from several vendors for different things. A new thermostat from the HVAC people and a new security camera from the CCTV people. Business is good and the workforce is busy and they don’t have enough qualified workers.

    2. PhilipSugar

      They have strong free cash flow (as long as they are not bs’ing the financials)This is where big companies not run by founders screw up.Management tries to show growth and overpays layers of other management.And does hail mary acquisitions.But it’s not that hard. I’d say give Fred a time. You aren’t there within 15 minutes, free month. Hour: three. No show: Year.Have managers make basic salaries but get paid on profits. Just like restaurants, Somebody swamped….get out of the office and do the work yourself, no different than when a good restaurant has a manager serving and busing when they see somebody swamped.I’d try and cut costs as much as possible, maybe fight with companies like ESPN to say here is what that costs, and print money.

  15. ThatOtherOtherGuy

    I just switched from Playstation Vue to Youtube TV.Playstation Vue raised their price $5, plus I like the Youtube TV interface much better. Works flawlessly on a Sony running Android TV.

  16. Kirsten Lambertsen

    LOL. That video is a scream.So, you’re only hosed now if your internet goes out (like mine did yesterday)?

    1. fredwilson

      I have an order for backup internet. I think I can get it for less than DirectTV was costing me

  17. goldwerger

    Mazal Tov. Been living it for couple of years and can’t understand why I needed anything else.We do Netflix + Hulu + Prime + HBO and want for nothing more 😉

  18. JaredMermey

    Bought a Fire Stick and now have two TVs running Sling TV/Netflix/Amazon Prime. Pay a little more for faster internet but out overall cost for OTT + Internet is way less than our old cable bundle.Regular cable just doesn’t make sense anymore.

  19. Richard

    HomeDepot is the DirecTV of appliances.

  20. Stefano Vettorazzi

    In Uruguay, DirecTV offers a prepaid plan. You can buy a DirecTV kit at the supermarket which includes everything you need to install the dish and make it work. Also, the kit includes credit for 3 days, so you can start using the service right away. After that, you can even pay for just one day.I don’t usually watch live television, so I haven’t bought the kit. However, I really like the solution.

  21. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Apparently – No recycling in the US !

  22. Muhammad Hassan Ali Nasir

    Keep it up. MHAN RAJPUT

  23. FKA Curmudgeon

    Of course that dish has electronics in it that should have been recycled properly.

  24. Mike Chan

    Just cut the cord today! Stuck with FiOS internet (it’s pretty badass) and went with DirecTV Now.