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If you frown when you see the cable TV bill, you’ve probably considered cutting the cord and kicking those cable boxes to the curb. But you might dismiss the idea because it sounds complicated, and besides, you don’t want to miss a single Eagles game, “Outlander” episode or the local evening news.

But it’s easier than you think to cut that cord, says Ian Conklin, whose business, Conklin Home Theater, keeps Lancaster-area homeowners entertained. And there’s no need to worry about your favorite shows, he adds. Streaming offers an endless variety of TV shows, movies, news and sporting events live or on-demand.

Norm Yunginger agrees. He cut the cord several years ago, largely because he found the cable TV bills unacceptable. He opted for streaming, an especially easy choice since he lives in Lancaster’s Woodcrest Villa community where Wi-Fi, the dominant component of streaming, is free to residents. With 35 years of computer programming and designing behind him, he is now retired but is known to friends as their go-to guru when they decide to cut the cable TV cord.

For example, he helped Nancy Miller of Mount Joy leave ever-increasing cable bills behind. She now streams from four TV sets on three floors of her house and says she loves the set-up.

“I bought a modem at Best Buy,” she says. “It cost about $100, but it’ll pay for itself in no time considering that renting it would cost about $15 per month. My Wi-Fi router box is on the second floor and a Roku stick is plugged into each TV to get my streamed content. I am not much of a techie, so I hired Best Buy’s Geek Squad to set it up.”

She subscribes to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime for movies, TV shows, PBS and local news.

“I miss the Hallmark movie channel,” she says. “But it’s going to be there somewhere in the line-up. I’ll figure it out.”

How to make the switch

All you need to cut the cord is a good internet connection and the apps built into a smart TV, Conklin says. Or you could use an inexpensive streamer like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

“People are enjoying cutting the cable TV cord,” he says. “They like being able to stream thousands of movies and TV shows on-demand, but that’s really just the beginning. Direct cable replacement services like Sling TV and YouTube TV start at $25 per month and can stream most of the live channels, sports and news you’re used to getting via cable TV, but there is no contract to sign. You can cancel anytime. And there are actually numerous services that stream free TV shows, free movies and even live news.”

Some people hate to jump into something new. For them, Conklin recommends getting all the streaming ducks in a row before firing the cable company. Install everything on your main TV, he says, unplug the cable box and get used to streaming instead. You may run into some bumps along the way. Clicking on an app rather than firing up the cable box may take a bit of getting used to. For example, the menu systems on some streaming services are different and so are the remote controls. Also, the search feature and the lack of channel numbers may be a bit confusing at first. However, with a bit of time and patience, it’ll work out fine.

Comparing costs

Lots of people get their internet as part of a cable TV bundle, perhaps even with phone service included. So you’ll have to find out how much your Wi-Fi will cost by itself. Say your bundle costs $150 per month and now you have to pay $50 just for internet. That means a monthly savings of $100. You can pocket it all or use some of it to buy new streaming services.

Of course, it makes a difference if you are under contract with the cable company. You’ll either have to wait it out, put up with an early termination fee or renegotiate a new internet-only contract.

Get a plan with unlimited data. This can be more expensive than data-limited plans, but keep in mind that video streaming can add up really fast.

Any newer TV can be converted to streaming with a Roku stick or similar device plugged into a port in the back of your TV. Such Roku devices sell for around $30 and come with a hand-held remote. Streaming services start as low as $5 monthly.

It is not unusual for premium TV cable to clock in at around $200 a month, but cutting it out still may not be for everyone, Conklin acknowledges.

“No single device or service has as many channels as a premium cable package,” he says. “And while it is true that the right mix of services will do as well or better, juggling them to find that mixture can be more effort than some people are willing to undertake.

“But talking costs, it’s certainly understandable that so many people want to drop cable. And the great thing about streaming, besides the variety the many services offer, is that you can cancel and restart any service any time. No contracts or penalties. For example, you could sign up to subscribe to a particular show and then cancel after the finale.”

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