This post contains the complete written transcript of the freeTV cord cutting interview with Mariner Wealth Advisors.
Interviewer (Brian Leitner)
Hello, and thank you for downloading another episode of your life simplified. My name is Brian Leitner and I’ll be the host of this episode. Today’s episode is near and dear to many of us. It’s about watching television. Some of our favorite shows and I don’t know that there’s anybody listening today that says they’re paying too little for Cable. Cable costs a lot of money, but there are a variety of different options that a lot of people may not be aware of where they can still watch their favorite shows without paying their cable company some of these absorbent fees.
There are other options. So on today’s show we have Brian Cavanaugh from freeTVee and his company helps people cut the cord frees them from the chains of cable so they can go ahead and watch the shows. They want the movies. They want the sports without paying some of these absorbent cable fees.
So Brian thanks for joining us today on the show.
freeTVee (Brian Cavanaugh)
Yeah, Brian happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
So Brian you run an organization called freetvee, and that’s TV spelled TVee and you’re based in Colorado. You tell us a little bit about how you got involved in this type of business.
Sure. I’ve always enjoyed electronics and technology and you know, I’m a fairly Frugal person. I’ve actually worked for us West Quest CenturyLink for 13 years and we sold DirecTV service and you know, I just got kind of tired of the whole corporate thing and you know just didn’t really approve of kind of the culture there internally and then certainly externally. You know it was it was a bit challenging to see customers getting charged so much every month and at the same time, you know, even though we were trying to provide good customer service.
It just never seemed to work out just because of the corporate culture. So, you know, it’s it’s one of these things where. I started looking at things and I’m like, why do people do this? You know, it doesn’t make any sense that people are getting ripped off yet treated terribly at the same time. I mean like the pay TV industry has the worst customer service marks in any industry.
Basically, why would people put themselves through that and I think a vast majority of the population doesn’t necessarily. Enjoy the high bills and the terrible customer service, but it’s a monopoly in essence. You know, it’s dish DirecTV Comcast depending on where you live Xfinity. And what I noticed quickly after kind of doing some research and such was really it kind of came down to two things one.
I think there’s a general lack of Education, you know a general. People are either too busy or they just don’t have the tech know-how or there’s just not enough good information out there for them to figure out what their alternatives are and things have changed a lot. You know, I started this business freetvee eight and a half years ago and there really wasn’t any options barely basically antennas that got you some channels.
Nowadays, it’s almost the opposite problem. It’s kind of a hot confusing mess where there’s almost way too many options to cut the cord which is good in some respects. But you know bad another.
So Brian from your definition. I mean, what does it mean to truly cut the cord? What does that mean in your world?
Well, I think the really short version is cord cutting is really about freeing yourself from, you know, expensive cable and satellite bundles and. Going for a different alternative of much less expensive and a lot of times free. And much more flexible TV Alternatives. That’s kind of the short version.
Okay, and so you just reference that. It has been a monopoly for many years but things have changed at this point. So you also mentioned that there’s a lot of confusion that’s out there. And so let’s unpack that up just a little bit. So Brian is I sit back and I listen to what you’re saying. You’re absolutely right.I feel like I pay too much for cable. I really don’t know what my options are. So if I was someone that’s interested in pursuing this cutting the. Word what process would I go through? I might meet or speak to someone like yourself. What are some of the first steps as I evaluate if this is something that I might want to do because I absolutely would love to save money on my cable bill. I just don’t know what the trade-offs are. I don’t know what the process is. I don’t know what I don’t know. So, where do you start with someone such as myself?
Yeah, good question. I mean, I think the most important thing to keep in mind. Is that even though we’ve been programmed from you know, traditional cable and satellite over the years that everybody’s kind of the same and here’s your $200 bundle for you know, 200 channels a month really that’s the advantage of cord cutting or one of the major advantages is it actually caters to your individual specific needs?
So I think the probably the most important thing to kind of start with is as a family, you know, sit down and say. Okay, like here’s the shows we really care about do we need to have a DVR do we not care about that? Did we just watch live TV? You know, it’s kind of some of those general questions to start and the more flexible.
You are the more you can save I would say, you know, the more requirements you have not that it’s not possible. I mean pretty much you know, 98% of the cable channels are available nowadays separately. There’s a lot of free options that are great. I mean so pretty much anything is doable nowadays.
It really just varies from situation to situation and obviously everybody’s different even though like I said before for some reason with cable and satellite, we’ve kind of sacrifice that notion just like we sacrifice customer service and sacrificed, you know our wallet to them every month as well.
So cord-cutting can provide not only hopefully better customer service but a more individualized and tailored TV viewing experience if you will and from the statistics that I’ve read just before this podcast the amount of cord cutters is growing at an unbelievably rapid rate and. It’s for the reasons that you talked about right price the ability to tell her and those types of things so bright as it relates to the saving money. Can you give us a couple examples of maybe some of the folks you’ve worked with the amount of money that they’ve been able to save as it relates to switching?
Sure. Yeah. I mean as I said before everybody’s situation is different obviously, but I would say you could have somebody on the real basic, you know Spectrum. They you know are paying $150 a month for you know a bundle or what have you from Xfinity. And they just want local network channels Live Well literally is just a simple as an antenna most cases indoor antennas, even though that’s the really easy way out, you know, we recommend doing a unit the right way and installing like an addict or an outdoor antenna, but that antenna is going to get you live TV.
It’s going to get you all your major networks, believe it or not. It’s actually better HD quality at the same time. So you’re literally losing nothing and saving a whole bunch of money.
I mean you could easily be saving probably right around $120 dollars a month just for that scenario and it’s clearly not the same antennas that I had when I was a kid?
Correct. Yeah, things have changed, you know, the they’ve gotten you know, I don’t know if you remember the whole digital transition that happened, you know ten years ago or so and then actually in a lot of markets the rolling out 4K believe it or not. So, you know, it’s already better in all the markets than cable satellite doesn’t matter what you have because it’s uncompressed but it’s about to get even better because 4K is coming for free.
So literally the same antenna. 4K long as you have a 4K TV, obviously or some sort of you know tuner to tune in 4k, but anyway, that’s kind of one scenario with the antenna and we’re big proponents of an antenna because. Literally, it’s free forever. And you actually get not just your major networks in awesome HD, but you usually get anywhere from 30 to even up to 70, you know digital channels as well to play a whole bunch of great stuff, you know, so it’s pretty amazing what you can get.
For free and then so that’s incredible to your point. You’re not paying a monthly fee on that. So you pay a one-time. Maybe there’s an installation fee obviously, but I mean, what are these antennas generally go for?
Well, you know, I think honestly, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. There are places online that are unscrupulous and they just want to take your money and go hide and they sell an antenna that’s you know, 50 bucks and they say it’s going to get cable channels and it’s going to work from. You know the middle of the valley in the mountains from 500 miles away from the tower which is you know, totally ridiculous.
But you know, most people if they get an indoor antenna, they’re paying anywhere from 20 to 50 dollars. The problem is we don’t really recommend that because you have to put an indoor antenna on every TV in your house in most cases and then more important than that is just reception. You know, you’re putting it higher and putting it outside.
You’re just going to get much better reception. So unless you’re okay with having channels break up on you from time to time or missing channels most places. It’s going to be pretty tough to have an indoor antenna working all the TVs in your house with you know, any type of reliability at least.
So what does that outside antenna run?
Usually somewhere around $100 plus minus kind of depends on the situation. There’s different antennas. I would recommend just getting it professionally installed at the end of the day quite frankly because I mean safety reasons for getting on your roof and doing it right. I mean, it’s. It’s no different than me hiring a plumber, you know, you got to have the right tools and the time and the know-how and all the rest of it to kind of bring it together.
Right? And it’s your point though. It pays for itself within the first month. I mean depending upon what your current situation is. That’s pretty incredible.
Yeah, exactly. I mean worst case scenario Even If you hired an antenna installer to do it, right? Like your return on investments going to be like two three months probably so kind of a no-brainer and doing it with that outside antenna.
You just need one for the entire house regardless of how many TVs you have. Is that accurate precisely.
Yeah. So it’s there’s different ways to do it. You know, there’s Wireless solutions that we use that are great. But it also makes it easier because it builds in like a great guide and DVR and such but the traditional way is just a rise in the coax that’s already in your house.
So that one antenna can control everything? Two different things at different times. Literally, that’s great.
You know, you’re not cluttering up your house with indoor antennas, but at the end of the day unless you’re okay with missing channels or having a breakup in the middle of your show. Just do it, right the first time. That’s the main reason you do an outdoor and add again Town Event. Sabrina is the antenna local only or how does that work? Yeah for the most part it’s mainly about your major network channels in HD and then there’s you know, some other channels on there that have a lot of great stuff but no cable channels.
So obviously a lot of families a lot of listeners, you know, they like some of the movie channels they like sports. So how do they gain access to that by cutting the cord.
Really up until about three years ago. There wasn’t really any other options to get cable channels. I think the big game changer honestly for most people and cutting the cord is they got Netflix, you know, so Network Netflix has been around for a while.
It’s streaming and people are amazed that they’re paying $10 a month and they’re watching like at least half of their TV on Netflix. It’s on demand its commercial free they can cancel whenever they want. So it’s all these things that cable and satellite couldn’t provide to them and then they go back and they look at their cable bill for.
Is a month and they say well I’m watching this like less than 50% of the time yet. I’m paying $200 a month it you know, the math just doesn’t add up. So that’s kind of what gets them going down the court cutting path quite frankly is I think that value proposition But to answer your question. Yes, you need cable channels.
Most people need cable channels at least certain times of the year. Perfect example is March Madness. So up until three years ago. You would be out of luck. You’d have to get cable and satellite nowadays 98% of the cable channels are available separately via streaming services. So that’s kind of the second source for TV is streaming.
Obviously, you have your things like Netflix and Amazon Prime which are great YouTube things like that that you know, that’s all my son really cares about anyway, but the other thing that’s really on there nowadays is cable channels so similar to Netflix and Prime its streaming but it’s literally the same stuff you have right now live on demand DVR, whatever you want for any cable channel.
They’re kind of like skinny bundle. And they range in price from $16 to $25 to $35 to $45, you know dollars a month. They give you the top 30 40 50 60 cable channels and the nice thing about those is one. It’s the same exact stuff. It’s just a lot less expensive but more important than that. I think is the flexibility because.
March Madness right now, you could actually subscribe to one of these packages for $25 a month and have every single March Madness game for $25 a month off of that service cancel whenever you want so you could get it for a month and then dump it.
So incredible, I mean the amount of flexibility the amount that it can be tailored to you and your. Like I said, there are a lot of people that are cutting the cord on a daily basis, but I’m just still surprised that when I walk around the office and I asked people about cord-cutting, you know, majority of people still haven’t done it yet. And I just to your point. I think it’s just because of the misinformation that’s out there.
Yeah, I think unfortunately as you know, it’s like Comcast is going to tell you about hey, there’s a lot better cheaper way to do this. Right? I mean, it’s just the Monopoly that is Comcast and Dish and DirecTV. I mean they want to keep things on the. And obviously there’s not a lot of information out there that’s good.
And even the stuff that is out there. There’s a lot of misinformation and I think the other piece of it honestly is it is confusing for a lot of folks, you know, because there’s so many options nowadays. Like I said, when I started this eight-and-a-half years ago, it was just an antenna that was pretty much your only option.
There’s the opposite problem where there’s just way too many options. So trying to bring it together. In an easy-to-use fashion and then having the time and the technical know-how to kind of set it up and put it all together and actually make it so that you know, your wife isn’t making you sleep on the couch because she’s so frustrated because it’s difficult to use, you know, that’s probably the key really.
So again, this sounds great and anytime something sounds really great. It just causes me to have concerns. So let me ask you I mean, what are the sacrifices? What don’t we know?
Probably the biggest sacrifice that some people would say, I mean again, everybody’s situation is different is in some markets.You can’t get certain channels IE, like Regional sports, like for instance here in Denver where we’re located now, you know, you can get every single Broncos game for free off of an HD antenna you can get all the major sports on all the local networks for. Off of an antenna you can get, you know, ESPN and FS1 and FS2 and NBC Sports and you know pretty much NBA TV TNT TBS but altitude and 18t sports for right now in this market you can’t.
Now for most of our customers most people to cut the cord that’s not really a big deal because you can listen to on the radio. You can go to the games with all the money you’re saving you hit the restaurant whatever, you know, it’s not really a game changer for most people that cut the cord. But yeah, I mean it is a little different there are sacrifices.
I think most people realize that if I’m saving a hundred, hundred fifty dollars a month. I can make a sacrifice. So, you know, it’s just a personal decision in our Market people just have to decide can I live without those two channels, especially knowing that like the nuggets are actually doing good right now and like last week.
I watched three Denver Nuggets games just on regular, you know streaming TV, you know without having to worry about it being on altitude or AT&T, so. Again in the streaming realm is where the cable channels are at and there’s you know, either skinny bundles or you know, some of the channels are ala cart all the premium movie channels are ala cart.
So it’s just like a Netflix Amazon Prime type of thing where it’s not just live. It’s the same exact stuff. It’s live. It’s on demand commercial free whenever you want. So you’re more in control. That’s really what it is with cord-cutting. Anyway, right you’re more in control of what you want to watch when and where you want to watch it.
But you’re also in control your budget to and cancel whenever you want. So the HBO’s and the show times and stars and everything like that. Literally, you know, you’re just paying $15 a month for HBO or ten dollars, you know for Showtime or eight dollars for stars and just keep it for a month binge watch all your shows just like Netflix and then cancel it such a great idea.
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So the streaming services that you. I think a lot of us are familiar with those but as we think about some of the different skinny bundles that are out there and the fact that there’s maybe a lot more that I’m going to do over the internet rather than the traditional cable lines. Is there anything I need to know about? Technology perspective obviously with the antenna. I need a quality antenna not some cheap flimsy something or another that’s just not going to work out. But what about from a bandwidth requirements any tips you have there that would potentially improve the viewing experience.
Yeah, I would say first off, you know, you kind of need to figure out where you’re at kind of the first question you asked about.
You know, what channels. Do we care about as a family and you know, what services do we need? If all you care about is local network channels, you don’t even need internet. You could just get an antenna. Most people are going to have internet obviously. You’re going to want Netflix you need internet just for life in general to work and you know surf the Internet and such.
I would say that Netflix she can get away with like 10 or 20 megabits per second speed wise if you’re streaming something more high bandwidth intensive like live TV, like for instance a filo or a sling TV or. Sony view things like that you’re going to want probably a minimum of 20 more like 40 megabits per second.
But here’s the thing Comcast is always going to try to sell you on more speed than most families really need because you call in say hey I’m having troubles of my Netflix. It’s not streaming. They don’t want to tell you that it’s the modem and router that the renting you for $13 a month because they just bought it refurbished for like 50 bucks because that sounds bad.
They want to get more money out of you. So they’re going to say oh no you need more. You need more speed of course, really? That’s not the case. I mean we have probably at least half of our customers probably more like two-thirds three-quarters of them that have the base Comcast speed and literally they stream anything live TV doesn’t matter.
It’s you know, For most normal scenarios, every situation is different obviously, but that’s kind of the case in general great couple of tips their understanding that you need some really good technology as it relates to what’s happening out there. And if you do you may be able to save some money again going through your internet provider and not necessarily going for the top package.
If you will with the top download speed. Yeah, I would say the other thing that’s kind of some misinformation to and just things to keep in mind generally when you’re cutting the cord is. I mean I call it bundled BS when you get in with Comcast and they say oh no it’s cheaper. You need to have the phone in the TV in the internet bundle. You know, that’s it’s really not the case. I mean you can get basic internet for like forty fifty dollars a month tax on internet’s less than a dollar or right around that so that’s how you truly control your bill. All the extra fees and taxes are really on phone and TV. So when you chop those out and you go a la carte like we’re talking or you get an antenna for free TV, that’s really where the savings comes in and I think the other thing to kind of consider when you’re doing that is you can keep renting that substandard modem router from obviously your cable and satellite provider your internet provider.
I should say. Or you know for most of our customers we recommend just buying your own stuff one. It’s going to be much better quality and then to your saving anywhere from 10 to 15 or soon to be $20 a month, you know, the price is never go down. They only go up, you know, you know, that’s a great tip and honestly, the more people that cut the cord the more your prices are going to go up because they’re paying the same thing for Content, you know every month and the less customers they have, you know cable and satellite.
Just last year Alone lost 2.5 million. Stammers so the customers that are stuck there are forced to carry these, you know retransmission fees from the different channels that come across cable cheered and their those prices are going down. They’re only going up. So guess who’s paying for it? Same thing if you watch sports or you don’t watch sports.
You’re paying for everybody else that watches Sports. I mean, you’ve probably seen these other sneaky fees where you’ve called in the Comcast and they say, oh we’re reducing your bill and then, you know a month or two later. You notice why bills not reduced it’s actually gone up. It’s because the broadcast TV fee increased in the sports TV see increased and the Box fee increase and everything else.
You know, it’s all the little games that people have obviously gotten sick of over the years. Yeah, the fees are interesting in the way in which they charge because. It seems like every day I get something in the mail that says, you know switch over to this cable provider or running a promo or something of that nature and they don’t reward customers for staying with them for a while.
So you end up having people flip to save x amount of dollars a year and they flip back and forth and to your point, it goes along with the poor customer service, but as it relates to customer service if something goes wrong with my TV today, if something goes wrong by cable today, obviously, I can call up Time Warner I can call up.
What happens if something happens while I’m trying to watch TV via the satellite? I mean, who do I call? What is tech support look like in that case.
Well, I mean, it depends on how you’re hooking it up. I guess if you’re hiring an antenna installer, you know, for instance somebody like us, you know, we do a lot of different things obviously not just antennas, but we help people cut the cord and save money and there’s lots of ways to do that and everybody’s situation is different.
But if you’ve paid to have an antenna installed. If the installer is worth their salt, they’ll you know guarantee their service just like we do so for us we guarantee our service because we know what we’re doing. We’ve been doing this for eight and a half years. So we do it right, you know, we have very few callbacks and quite frankly. We got nothing but five star reviews all over the place for a reason, you know one we care about what we’re doing but to you know, we’ve tested every antenna we tested every DVR we’ve tested every streaming service every Streaming Stick, you know, I mean. That’s just what you learn over time right is what works and what doesn’t work and you do what works and you know the end of the day when I created this business, I wanted to create a culture that was the opposite of cable and satellite, you know, I don’t agree with how they gouge their customers and treat them terribly and have the inflexibility.
So we do the exact opposite that with everything we do that’s our company culture and that’s what’s most important to us now on the flip of that. If you have installed a cheap indoor antenna yourself, then yeah chances are you’re probably going to pay the price and you might be in the middle of your favorite game and it’s breaking up on you and you know, it’s kind of more on yourself.
If you DIY it to set it up originally guess what your support is DIY as well, you know, there’s not really anybody that can help you out. Now, there are some streaming services and they have 800 numbers or you know, they have. Kind of a email chat line or things like that. So it’s not all doom and gloom.
I mean there’s plenty of support out there. It’s just more fragmented.
I would say is maybe a decent way to put it Brian this conversations been great, you know as I indicated a couple of times earlier. It’s a growing Trend and it’s still surprising that everybody hasn’t flipped the switch or cut the cord in this case. So what advice would you give our listeners to take that first step to see if they’re interested in doing this?
Well, I think like we started out with I mean the first thing is to. Down with your family and kind of realistically plot out like what channels do we really need to have? You know, that’s probably the best place to start and then you know, I mean you could hit up our website free TV e.com.
So eight letters and you know, there’s a lot of good resources on there. We have an FAQ section. I mean honestly Court cuttings not for everybody, you know, like we don’t we don’t want to force people into cutting the cord, you know, if it doesn’t make sense for them now, I would say that as the as time goes on pretty much I really talk to people anymore.
Court getting doesn’t make sense for them because there’s just so many options and it’s all customizable and flexible to kind of meet their needs. It is a bit challenging to kind of DIY and I mean, obviously if you’re in the Denver Front Range area, that’s great. We can help you. We are looking to expand into other markets so we’ll be able to help in other markets as well hopefully soon.
But as of right now it’s probably going to be somewhat piecemeal and you’re going to have to kind of DIY some of the stuff and you know, probably deal with some sacrifices unless you know, you get lucky and can find somebody like us which I don’t know that there is anybody like us. Honestly, it’s really kind of varies by situation.
But I think just starting with figuring out what it is what channels you really need and then also figuring out okay going to our website kind of checking things out there. That’ll give you kind of a good Baseline and. You know really it’s going to be based on your situation. If all you needs local channels than an ant an has Great Piece of Cake no-brainer the more complex you get with needing a whole bunch of cable channels and like I can’t live without this specific channel.
It’s all doable. But then you have to have different Hardware to kind of bring it all together and make it easy to use and you know, certainly that’s what we do, you know all day every day but DIY and that stuff can be, you know, certainly a little tricky depending on your situation.
It’s all excellent.It’s really great advice again, it’s. Growing Trend that you guys are obviously in front of and we look forward to your expansion plans what that ultimately looks like as we have listeners across the country so bright Before I Let You Go as we wrap up here. We ask all of our guests the same question and that question is. What is the worst financial decision you’ve ever made?
Well, I would say probably paying for cable and satellite 15 years ago. You know now I know better obviously and fortunately I have a business that helps other people know, you know figured out that knowledge as well. So so problem salt. There you go problem solved at the end of the day, I would encourage people to kind of investigate and do some research and you know, give it a try.
I mean heck you’re paying. A hundred fifty 250 300 dollars a month, you know, what do you have to lose? Right, you know, the average cord cutter is literally easily going to save $100 a month. Probably right around 1,500 a year on average. So I mean you kind of figure out what you can do with that money.
I mean. Brian I’ll let you kind of take that one. You got you guys know what to do with the money, right? Yeah, if you got plenty of options plenty of other places to save that put that away for something that’s more meaningful, especially when you again when you’re comparing product a versus product day, if you will, it’s the same thing why not save the money so exactly right?
I want to thank you again for your time and insight greatly appreciate it. So thanks again for joining us today.
Yeah, no problem Brian. Thanks for having me.
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