Game changer: Streaming sports online possible, it’s just a different ballgame
Spending less money might be one reason. Changing habits or managing time may be others.
But, but, but SPORTS!
So never mind those other reasons for cutting the cable cord or satellite package.
“It always comes down to sports. If they haven’t cut the cord it’s because of sports,” Grand Valley resident Jesse Redmond said.
He understands. The 25-year-old follows pro football and soccer — he was a holdout on that for a long time until a friend got him hooked — basketball, hockey and baseball, which he played in high school.
And he does not subscribe to cable or satellite and hasn’t for the past five years after deciding he didn’t want to pay the bill. It made sense for all his other TV watching: a few specific shows and movies.
But sports ... “I struggle with that,” Redmond said. Still, with every season he has found ways to not miss the games he wants to see.
With the NFL and college football seasons set to start in earnest in September, other fans who have cut the cord likely have put their viewing game plan together, and it is not too late for those considering a change to do so.
Streaming in general, and sports in particular, has improved drastically in the past few years, said Dennis Restauro, who has worked in IT on the East Coast for more than 20 years.
He started the website GroundedReason.com about three years ago as a way to improve his writing skills, and a few months in, the site began focusing on cord-cutting with articles and podcasts offering tips and information.
As more people seek information on cord-cutting, his website growth “has been pretty crazy.” Currently, he claims, “half a million people are coming through a month.”
In one of his more recent articles, titled “How To Watch College Football Online Without Cable,” Restauro outlines what the various online streaming services offer.
What college football fans, or really fans of any sport, need from a streaming service depends on their favorite sports and teams, Restauro said.
That means checking out team schedules and finding out what network is carrying the games.
“If you have cable you still have to figure all that out,” he said.
With streaming, it’s just a little more of an active experience, Restauro said. “You know what you want to watch and you go get it.”
This goes for sports as well as for the hot new drama shows on Netflix or Amazon, for example.
“If you enjoy channel surfing and just watching what is in front of you ... then streaming is not for you,” Restauro said.
However, “I enjoy watching TV more because I found better stuff out there,” he said.
Right now, there is plenty of garbage TV hiding in the huge number of channels offered with cable or satellite, he said.
Those networks haven’t upgraded their product and are coasting along on the cable train, but the quality difference is glaring to those watching HBO or Netflix or Hulu online, he said.
Another big difference cord-cutters see involves the amount of time spent watching commercials, he said.
According to a Nielsen study last year, American adults watch an average of five hours and four minutes of TV a day. So if you’re watching live network TV, that means more than an hour each day is spent on commercials, more than 365 hours a year. It’s like watching commercials 24 hours a day for more than two and half weeks straight.
“That alone floors me,” Restauro said.
Besides, it is only a matter of time until all cable transitions to internet and in coming years there likely will be more a la carte options from streaming services, he said.
When Restauro cut the cable about three years ago, “I really sat down and really thought about what was really worth having.”
He based his online streaming selections on that, and he and his family have been happy.
The thing is, Restauro said, if you try streaming — there are many free trials out there — and don’t like it, your cable or satellite company will gladly take you back.
Redmond isn’t going back, so his game plan for watching the Denver Broncos and other NFL games mostly involves a digital antenna.
Normally, he can watch three NFL games over the air on a Sunday.
Mondays and Thursdays are where it gets tricky, he said.
To catch games on those nights he plans to either go to a sports bar or a family member’s house.
During past NFL football seasons Redmond has subscribed to Sling TV or NFL Sunday Ticket, which no longer requires a satellite subscription, and when the Avalanche and Nuggets start their seasons later this year he may look into a streaming service.
Until then, he is pretty happy with his digital antenna, and is surprised by how many people he has talked to who didn’t know they could use a digital antenna to pick up local broadcast networks.
“Somewhere along the way, they have forgotten you can do that,” he said.
And since he cut the cord, “I’ve actually got my parents and some coworkers to follow suit,” he said.
Nearly everyone these days thinks about doing it, so it helps to talk to someone who is surviving just fine on the other side and to get some peace of mind, he said.
But, he said, “it always comes down to sports.”