No Easy Decision: Choosing Between Pay-TV Services

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OPINION
No Easy Decision: Choosing Between Pay-TV Services

Many customers lately have opted to chop the twine — that’s, to ditch cable or satellite tv for pc TV and as a substitute depend on over-the-top (OTT) streaming providers for his or her viewing pleasure. Price has been one issue, however altering viewing habits has been one other.

As a reporter who commonly covers pay-TV providers of all varieties, I truly went the wrong way and for a while have had each cable and satellite tv for pc: Comcast Xfinity and Dish Network, to be particular.

It allowed me to narrate to the fictional Michael Scott of TV’s The Office, who defined he had satellite tv for pc TV and cable as a “back up.” As a matter of full disclosure, this was potential in my scenario, as I used to be on the evaluate program for Dish whereas I paid a month-to-month invoice to Comcast for service that included my residence workplace cellphone and Internet entry together with TV.

To say that it was the “best of both worlds” wasn’t simply my quoting the proverb — it was actually true on this case. I got here to understand every thing nice about each providers whereas being largely proof against both’s downsides. However, to quote one other proverb, all good issues come to finish. My evaluate time with Dish is ending.

After having had two providers, going to at least one shouldn’t be precisely simple.

The easiest answer can be to revert to my Xfinity for my cable viewing, however there are just too many issues I’ve come to like about Dish. The irresponsible half might have taken the lead of the aforementioned TV doofus and stored each pay-TV providers, however that will imply a invoice of practically US$400 — and that is not together with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu OTT providers, which my spouse and I additionally subscribe to nowadays.

It in all probability would not require my full disclosure that we watch loads of TV. It shouldn’t be one thing we’re ashamed of or attempt to disguise. We have our favourite reveals, and paying for these providers is cash effectively spent to us — however there’s nonetheless a restrict to what we’re prepared to and even can afford to pay.

We needed to resolve which to maintain.

Comcast because the Cable Provider

We’ve been common subscribers to Comcast triple play, which incorporates cellphone, Internet and cable, since 2010. In that point we have largely accepted the problems with Comcast as a result of there weren’t many various providers. For a short 24-hour interval we ditched Comcast for a Midwestern different service, WOW (Way Out West), however we discovered that service to be much more missing and determined to return to Comcast.

It was a case of the lesser of two evils.

At this level it appears fairly obvious that there aren’t many explanation why we’d persist with Comcast. The invoice is excessive and the service has had its share of issues. However, the Internet is usually dependable and the cellphone service is superb — and even permits totally free calls to Canada.

The greatest drawback with Comcast earlier than we “upgraded” to its Xfinity program was that it was tough to stream content material on the secondary field within the den. In a three-year interval, we had no fewer than a dozen visits from Comcast to resolve the issue. It by no means was addressed absolutely, and ultimately we merely opted to ditch the secondary field.

Worse nonetheless was that Comcast actually allowed us to document solely two packages directly whereas watching a 3rd on the DVR. That may sound cheap, however try what’s on every Sunday evening! For us it was a matter of recording packages at different occasions and juggling what we watched first. For admitted TV junkies that merely would not do — nor ought to it.

Xfinity Marks the Spot

Then a few years in the past we made the improve to Comcast’s Xfinity service, hoping it might enhance the scenario. It truly made issues worse. Recording packages was no simpler, and looking for something on demand required going by way of repeated layers that made watching a program a irritating affair.

Xfinity added voice assist, however speaking to the distant wasn’t a lot of an enchancment. Whether utilizing the voice performance or the menus, it was something however intuitive!

Fast-forwarding and rewinding throughout a program was equally annoying. When attempting to skip forward — say to keep away from a industrial break — we both might go at a barely sooner tempo than regular viewing or dash up to now forward we would find yourself having to rewind.

In the top, we frequently discovered it was simpler to look at the commercials. Perhaps that was the purpose, as Comcast owns NBC Universal and its varied channels. Making it simple to skip these paid segments is not good for the underside line now, is it?

Xfinity additionally by no means resolved the way in which the channels are positioned. Standard-definition and high-definition channels are badly intermixed, whereas native channels, fundamental and premium cable channels appear randomly positioned as effectively. Even after years of getting the service, it was essential to lookup channels or packages. That is not ideally suited for channel browsing, to say the least.

Dishing on Dish

The case for Dish is far simpler to make. The channels are properly grouped. Local TV channels are positioned on the identical “number” because the over-the-air counterpart. Hence Fox2 is on channel 2 and NBC is on channel four simply correctly! The main fundamental channels — AMC, FX and History, and so forth. — are grouped collectively, whereas the identical goes for the premium paid channels.

Better nonetheless, an on-demand channel is positioned with the respective premium choices — equivalent to Showtime and Starz — and for some fundamental channels, just like the aforementioned FX and History. Click on these and also you shortly can pull up their on-demand content material! Now that is intuitive.

Fast forwarding is far simpler with Dish as effectively. Three of the key networks, together with ABC, Fox and NBC, additionally supply auto hop performance, so you do not even have to skip the commercials — the DVR does it for you! My spouse and I additionally fell in love with the prime time anytime function with Dish. This routinely recorded the prime time content material on these three networks together with CBS. Sure, it might be nice if CW and PBS had been included, however we’re blissful sufficient to know that almost all of community reveals document routinely.

That helped cut back the variety of packages we needed to keep in mind to document every week. The solely draw back was that at sure occasions a neighborhood affiliate would preempt the community, however these events are far and few between, so it was definitely worth the tradeoff. For energy viewers, Dish definitely has its benefits.

Remote Viewing

Another standout function with Dish was the power to stream content material whereas we traveled — and on a visit to Vienna, we truly had been in a position to watch the packages recorded in our residing rooms! It was actually the perfect of each worlds for a trip — and sure, I’ll admit I’m a type of individuals who fear about lacking my reveals whereas I journey, even on trip. A trip in my thoughts must be getting away from work and stress, not the issues in life I take pleasure in.

So due to the Sling expertise with Dish, we might take within the tradition of Europe and watch our reveals earlier than going to sleep.

Now, in equity, Xfinity has began to supply related options for distant viewing, and whereas we have not examined in Europe we now have used it within the United States. In a head-to-head comparability, Dish carried out higher in most conditions. There had been a number of occasions that Xfinity appeared to have an edge, however there are quite a few components to think about — most notably the standard of the WiFi sign in our motels.

However, most often Dish edged out Xfinity when it got here to streaming our content material.

Broken Dish

Now Dish is not good, and truthfully no TV service is. Dish is a satellite-based service, and we stay in Michigan and get some dangerous snowstorms in addition to dangerous rain squalls within the spring and summer season. Satellite service largely has overcome climate points — however there’s solely a lot that may be performed. Snow can accumulate on the dish, and that requires going out to clear it.

Fortunately the literal dish is not on the roof however is on a beam within the backyard within the again yard. That means I haven’t got to danger life or limb to see my packages. (It can be definitely worth the danger, btw, however it is not a nice method to begin a chilly morning with an ice storm!)

Another drawback with Dish is that it would not supply Internet or cellphone. The price for the extent of plan that we would take into account for our viewing habits is on par with what Comcast affords for a triple play. By selecting Dish, we are able to count on so as to add $40 to $80 a month for cellphone and Internet. As we work at home, having each cellphone and quick Internet is solely a requirement.

The greatest concern with Dish, nonetheless, is its feud with HBO, which has been ongoing because the starting of November and reveals no signal of being resolved. We perceive why Dish’s management is holding its floor, and we stand with them — however Game of Thrones is on, and that is an enormous favourite of ours!

The answer with Dish can be to get HBO Go and MAX Go, however that can solely add to our backside line, and it means these are actually streaming providers, probably not cable channels. This means the price of protecting Dish might enhance our invoice for pay TV by practically $100. That’s not an insignificant sum of money. For a few freelance writers, it provides up.

And We Chose

In the top, will probably be exhausting to abdomen that additional $100. It is cash that might be spent to exit to dinner, to splurge on one thing else or simply to avoid wasting for a wet day.

However, coping with Comcast Xfinity and its frustrations actually is not definitely worth the cash we would save. We might stay with Comcast if it had been the one possibility on the town. Maybe we would be pleased with it… if we hadn’t skilled Dish. The easy fact is we now have, and we love Dish.

So if this implies I want to put in writing one other story or two every month, to work somewhat more durable, then it’s a honest tradeoff. Dish has turn into one thing we actually take pleasure in. In equity, it might be simpler for me to ditch Netflix or Hulu as a substitute. With these providers, we now have to binge reveals — and fact be informed, typically weeks go by with out our partaking with both.

As somebody who grew up with cable — I even know the day of the yr once I was a baby and we first grew to become related — I’ve come to understand what it affords. While I’m slicing the literal cable from Comcast, I’ll be protecting the cable that delivers Dish from the satellite tv for pc dish.

I’ll have to enroll in HBO Go as effectively, a minimum of till Dish and HBO resolve their variations, which I do hope occurs quickly. However, I believe we must always all count on extra combating between content material suppliers and pay-TV providers… however that is one other concern.

Now the subsequent determination is whether or not I hassle protecting Comcast’s cellphone and Internet or decide to check out one other service. In the top, I do know this is not the perfect determination to make however it’s actually the one one I could make.

The opinions expressed on this article are these of the writer and don’t essentially mirror the views of ECT News Network.

Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus embrace cybersecurity, cellphones, shows, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous automobiles. He has written and edited for quite a few publications and web sites, together with Newsweek, Wired and FoxNews.com. Email Peter.



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