Cut the cord to save

Monthly TV bills can be reduced if we stream more TV

By: Sayantani Kar

Monthly expenses, or as some would call it, recurring expenses, are an unavoidable evil. It is that set of spending needs which has to be done but if given a choice, we would rather not. It is not half as exciting as the other expense head that goes by the name of ‘discretionary’. That is where all our fun lies.

If discretionary spends, which basically denotes spending that we choose, would come with a happy smiley, monthly expenses would bear a morose emoji. It includes bills of all kinds such as utility, maintenance and more. Even basic food might be counted as one.

It can be a tall task to pare down our monthly expenses. In our unending tussle to increase our savings, we often turn a critical eye on our expenditure, to eke out some more resources. While discretionary spends is the first stop we make, there are some nifty ways that monthly expenses can be cut back too.

Our home entertainment and communication bills, for example. We cannot consider cable/DTH (direct-to-home) and Internet needs among our discretionary spending anymore. They are a lifeline in a connected world, needed both for work and play amidst a hectic schedule.

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But what if we stop paying for linear TV? That would mean TV as we know it – aired through either cable or DTH (both routed through satellites), with channels choosing the content timing and peppering content with ads.

We, especially those in our 20s-40s, are no strangers to streaming video content services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and, thanks to the just-concluded HBO’s Game of Thrones, even Hotstar. Their exclusive shows, including original productions, and movie deals have ensured we open up our wallets for some of these, at least.  

Most broadcasters (our TV content providers) have launched their streaming services (Sony Liv, Zee5 and more).

They come with a lot of advantages over regular pay TV or satellite TV.

Movies release faster on these services for home consumption. We watch and rewatch what we want, when we want. Ads are not forced down on us when we sit down for an episode of our favourite show. At the click of the remote, hundreds of shows can be browsed to discover something new. Devices are no bar, as most allow multiple devices including smart TVs, mobile phones, tablets to access subscribed content.

Most importantly, in today’s set-up where most of us are already paying for high-speed Internet (broadband or/and 4G), and have smart devices such as smart TVs and tablets, these allow us to cut satellite TV.

Studies have shown we anyway watch and keep going back to a few channels on satellite TV. Most of the streaming apps provide regional and Hindi programmes they show on TV for free. For exclusive and foreign content, households already access Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

Even sports is covered as Star India with its programming rights for major sporting events ensures we do not miss out on live streaming of the sport we follow.

A little bit of homework on the right mix and we will be on our way to stream all our TV programmes without a hitch and be richer by Rs 600-800-plus each month that we otherwise would have paid for satellite TV each month (for a full-fledged viewing experience).

Cord cutting is not a new phenomenon and large cities are waking up to it. Even smaller towns with 4G access on their smartphones are consuming streaming content.

In the US, which welcomed streaming when we were still fiddling with our frustrating dialup Internet connections and waiting for 10 minutes for a page to open, the pay TV viewer base has steadily declined since 2010. Cord cutters (disconnecting satellite TV) increased by 32.8% in 2018 to 33 million.

On-demand TV for us in India, too, makes sense not just because it restores our choice but also cuts down on our monthly expenditure.



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