Alyssa loves trying out new products and services, sharing her honest opinions with the world. She is a budget-conscious wife and mom.
I don't know about you, but if a random, unknown number pops up on my phone, I dance and sing along to my ringtone while I wait for the call to be transferred to voicemail. I am filled with a sense of pride at not being taken for a fool by scam artists. However, over the summer, I received a surprise call from my son's teacher. The next day, seeing a similar number pop up, I answered, thinking that it was the school again, following up on a few questions I had. Well, I was wrong. Turns out it was Spectrum calling.
The lady was a little pushy, trying to sell me on the idea of a seven-day free trial of Spectrum's new streaming TV app. I am vehemently against the high cost of cable TV. Why would I pay to watch shows that I can view for free, utilizing the internet that I already pay too much for?
But this lady was persistent. She explained that the company was reaching out to its current customers, wanting them to give this new service a try. They would give me seven days to try it out, completely free. First, I would need to download their free app. I would get all my local channels and ten extra channels of my choosing, of which I could easily swap out via the app. The app could be downloaded to unlimited devices, meaning I could be watching a show, my husband could be watching a different show, and my son could watch his cartoons all at the same time. I had seven days to try it out. If I decided to keep the service, it would only be $24.99 a month, but if I decided it wasn't for me, I could cancel through the app, online, or by calling in to customer service. They would even throw in a $10 credit toward my bill just for trying it out, whether I decided to keep the service or not.
After listening to her spiel and confirming the many ways to cancel the service, I thought, why not? I figured my family and I would test it out for seven days and then I'd cancel. I agreed to try it out, fully believing that I'd be canceling in a week. $10 off my internet bill was pretty enticing and truth be told, I was excited to watch a little TV. After haphazardly selecting my ten channels over the phone, with the confirmation that I could easily swap them out on my own via the app, I hung up and anxiously awaited for my husband to get home so that we could watch some TV.
We immediately downloaded the app to our devices, but were disappointed to find out that we couldn't download it to our Vizio smart TV. That was a minor annoyance, as we were able to utilize SmartView, putting whatever show we were watching on our phones directly to the TV.
Then, my husband and I browsed through the app to try to figure out how to swap out our ten choice channels. Not seeing an option for that within the app, I gave customer service a call. I spoke with a representative in tech support and found out the real details of this service.
Included in the plan:
- Local TV channels, including The CW
- Spectrum News channel
- CSPAN, CSPAN 2, CSPAN 3
- QVC, HSN, Shop HQ, JTV, Gem Shopping Network
- A variety of music channels
- A choice of ten cable network channels
- Choice channels can only be changed one time by calling in to customer service.
- In order to cancel, customer service must be called.
- The streaming service is $24.99 per month.
- No bulky cable box and wires.
- No contract. You can cancel at any time.
You can imagine my irritation at hearing what I had been initially sold on was incorrect. However, the tech support guy was apologetic and very nice. He went over all the actual details of the service with me as well as giving me a breakdown of all the choice channels. He allowed me to change the channels over the phone and did not count it toward my one time change. He also said that he would have a conversation with the marketing team to ensure they were giving out the correct information when trying to sell their new service. All in all, it was a pleasant interaction and I was appreciative of getting all the correct facts concerning the Spectrum streaming service.
Pros and Cons
I selected ten channels that I knew my family would watch, a combination of educational and entertainment. My husband and I love the History channel, NatGeo, and Discovery; my son enjoys Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon; and I'm excited about having FX to watch American Horror Story. It is nice to have more options on days when we have time to watch TV. While DVR isn't included in the app, the on demand gives the freedom to watch favorite shows when time allows. It's also possible to watch on a computer without the app, using Spectrum's website. There is even a feature to add favorite shows to a watch list.
My family ended up enjoying the convenience of more TV options and we decided to keep the service. However, what they don't tell you is there are extra fees associated with streaming TV. On my first bill with the new service, I noticed the following extra charges:
- Broadcast TV Surcharge - $5. This is a fee reflecting charges assessed to Spectrum by the owners of local broadcast and local "network-affiliated" TV stations.
- FCC Regulatory Fee - $0.06
- Franchise Fee -This fee has changed each month. On the first bill, it was $0.76. On the next bill, it was $1.06.
With the technological advances of this day and age, you would think buffering would be a distant memory. Unfortunately, even with the fastest internet speed in our area, 400+mbps, buffering still happens with this streaming service. It's a minor annoyance, usually earning an eye roll and a huff from me, but it doesn't last long, less than a minute. While on demand is convenient, it's important to note that not all seasons and episodes of shows are available with this service.
Is It Worth It?
Honestly, the answer to this question is subjective. With the rise of streaming options from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, and YouTube, as well as other networks jumping on the bandwagon, money is being thrown in all directions. So many people are getting rid of cable in favor of these other options, but how many services are you paying for? It's easy to latch on to all the choices and find yourself paying the same amount or more than you would for traditional cable.
For us, this service is great. As far as TV options go, we have our digital antennae for local channels, Netflix, and now Spectrum streaming. But before you commit to $24.99 a month, you should consider what you are already paying for and if you are actually going to watch the channels.
Questions & Answers
Question: What was the total bill for Spectrum's TV streaming after all the fees were added? $32? Were you able to pause tv or record shows?
Answer: For TV services, it was $24.99 plus a broadcast fee of $5. They recently upped the broadcast fee an extra dollar. We also have internet so that factors into our total bill. Last month we made the decision to get rid of TV because of the extra charges, not just the extra dollar for broadcast fees, but also because the internet services fee was also raised $4. Our total bill in November was $122.13 for TV and the internet. (Taxes, fees, and other charges varied per month. One month was $0.82, another was $1.15 for reference.) For us, it wasn't worth it. After having the service for several months, we realized that I was the only one utilizing the TV streaming in our house. No, you cannot record shows with the streaming service, but you can pause on-demand shows.
© 2019 Alyssa
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on February 05, 2020:
Yes, I agree Liza! The whole idea was to ditch expensive cable, but with all the streaming options nowadays, people often end up spending just as much, if not more. For those looking to save, it's important to figure out what each option offers and what will actually be used. Netflix has really grown in the past decade. I still remember picking out a show or movie and waiting for it to be mailed to me. haha! There is definitely something for everyone on Netflix! Thank you for stopping by! :)
Liza from USA on February 04, 2020:
Hi Alyssa, following my move to the U.S a few years ago, I was stunned by how many streaming there are. I figured wow, people here pay so much for their entertainment. The rise of internet services and tech companies really get people hooked with these things. I'm not a fan of technology when it's just way too much. My husband and I enjoyed watching Netflix just like you. We love cooking and traveling shows. Thanks for sharing.
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on September 19, 2019:
Yeah, we don't have a lot of time to watch TV either, but sometimes it's nice just to relax on the couch and dive in to something good. Just like with Netflix, my husband and I gravitate toward documentaries and educational content. It's a great way to learn something new! You can save a lot of money by switching from traditional cable, you just have to decide what works best for your family. I'm glad this was helpful! :)
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2019:
I should do a bit more investigating and change our cable company for something more frugal.I get so tired of the TV even being on sometimes, but my husband is disabled, so there is not much for him to do much of the time. I find other things than TV to keep entertained, like writing. I appreciate this thorough article explaining exactly what Spectrum offers. Thank you.