Science & Technology



Jennifer Van Grove: Why this die-hard sports fan didn't cut the cord and is sticking with cable — for now

Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

This year, there will be more than 22 million cord-cutters in the U.S., according to the latest data from eMarketer. By 2021, that number is expected to balloon to over 40 million people.

Randy's bundle payment of $225 a month netted an abundance of channels, but he didn't like that the bill seemed to creep up on a monthly basis and he wanted to see if he could cut costs with something new. Part of the problem, Randy readily admitted, was that he would avoid calling his provider to lower his rates.

"I still have a home phone, but 'why?'" he said, semi-rhetorically. The reason? "I'm lazy. It's always been in the bundle."


"I am willing to try just about anything," Randy told me.

And try he did.

I knew that Randy's best bet would a streaming cable alternative from what's called a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (or vMVPD). These are considered skinny bundles, offering live and on-demand access over the internet to a pared-down selection of channels. There are now six solid options: Sling TV from Dish, PlayStation Vue from Sony, DirecTV Now from AT&T, Hulu with Live TV from Hulu, YouTube TV from Google and FuboTV from an independent startup.

"Whenever I look across the channel lineup and pricing (of the streaming skinny bundles), I come to the conclusion that how good or bad they are depends almost entirely on what you want as a consumer," Verna said. "It's hard to compare them on an absolute basis, and is relative to what you may want, what your budget might be and the devices in the home."

Given Randy's tastes, availability of sports programming was going to be the deal-maker or -breaker. Thankfully, each of the available vMVPD services has a solid, albeit not comprehensive, sports lineup. It wasn't always this way.

"Up until fairly recently it seemed as if cable operators and sports networks were clinging to their codependent relationship, with sports being the last bastion of linear and appointment viewing," Verna said. "In the last year, as CBS Sports and NBC and Fox, have licensed their programming to these different services, suddenly it's a different ball game."


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