sling tv commercial

So Is Sling TV & DIRECTV NOW Really Cord Cutting? Let’s Take a Look…


Ever since Sling TV launched 2 years ago a debate has been going on among cord cutters. Can you really be a cord cutter if you pay for a service that is owned by a cable company.

At the core of this argument is a question of what is cord cutting and who are cord cutters. Can you really pay DISH or AT&T for their streaming services and still call yourself a cord cutter? We decided to take a look at this question.

What is cord cutting?

The definition I think best fits cord cutting is breaking free from high overpriced cable TV and long-term contracts.

(Note: We are not talking about Internet. Cord cutting is not about breaking free from Internet.)

What makes something cord cutting?

So to be a true cord cutting service it has to meet two things. First, be less expensive than the average cable TV bill of $100 a month and anywhere from $30 to $50 in fees every month. Second, it has to be free from a long-term contract.

Can you be a cord cutter if you pay for Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW?

That seems to be a major issue for some cord cutters right now. If you pay something to a traditional cable TV provider are you a cord cutter? I would say yes. DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV both meet the cord cutting definition because they are less expensive than traditional cable TV and, more importantly, have no long-term contract.

So what does this mean for cord cutting?

One of the best things about cord cutting is control and options. Cord cutters have far more options than they ever did with cable TV. This means for some people they are happy with free over-the-air TV and nothing more. Others are happy paying $60 for a big package of channels from DIRECTV NOW. Yet both can be cord cutters.

In the end we are both getting what we want: less expensive entertainment and no long-term contracts with hidden fees.

So, yes, you can be a cord cutter and still pay for a live TV streaming service.

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  • Richard smith

    I guess PlayStation Vue would have to pay to get mentioned.

    • filmex

      That was my initial thought but this column is about streaming services that are junior outlets of their cable overlords, so luckily Vue cannot be lumped in that group.

      The fact that Vue was the first to offer a DVR, while Sling was too busy protecting their expensive cable/DVR packages, proves you will never get the best deal from a company that is trying to have their cake and eat it too.

      Do you think Sling would even offer their half-assed DVR now if they hadn’t been forced into it by Vue?

    • Jeff Hershberger

      Being that PSVue is not owned by Dish (Sling) or DirecTV it is very much a standalone provider and so far is the best of the bunch if you are looking to get comparable service to a traditional provider whilst being in control of your own streaming device and plan.

    • PlayStation Vue is not owned by a traditional cable service like AT&T or DISH. So it does not fit into the argument about paying traditional pay-TV services.

      • BillNole

        Perhaps it may have warranted a mention of this in the article then, since it also struck me as being left out for what was an unknown reason to me and I assume many others as well. Given it’s popularity in terms of users and how often it is lumped into the argument as “not true cord cutting”, a simple comment in the article could answer those questions pre-emptively. I still pay Charter/Spectrum for internet since I have no other choice. So far, I’m satisfied with the arrangement and have no need for an alternative, but I’m hoping one comes along anyway. I believe it’s only a matter of time before they increase my bill, start adding hidden fees (I watch my bill EVERY month!) and implement a data cap (I currently use 1 to 1-1/2 TB monthly!)

  • Michael Allbritton

    I agree. An argument over the meaning of “cord cutter” is a bit silly in my opinion. If one cancels the service they are currently subscribed from, say, Comcast, then signs up for PS Vue, sure that person is a cord cutter.

    As you point out, cord cutting is about saving money and having choices which one does not have when subscribed to a traditional cable/satellite package.

  • Surfer

    As long as it saves me money in the short and long term, you can call it cord cutting or not and it won’t really matter to me. I love being able to save over 80 dollars a month.

  • Noctaire

    The original definition of a cord cutter was just that – someone who dumped all entertainment services delivered over the wire and went strictly with those that were over the air. That’s why it was called cord cutting in the first place. Internet based delivery wasn’t really a thing at the time.

    Then mass entertainment companies, like Time Warner, Dish, DIRECTV, and others started using the Internet to deliver their programming. It’s the same thing , just a different media (sort of). In many ways, it was done this way via cable providers years before.

    The product is still a package of channels; just fewer channels for less money. Again – same thing, just a different format.

    So, long made short, if you buy these services then you are not a cord cutter in the traditional sense. Yes, it is less expensive and you have a bit more control, but you’re still getting the same thing.

  • GoGo As

    If cord cutting means eliminating all wired service then no one that leaves near me can ever do it. We can’t receive OTA signals at all, so if you want TV you need to get it from a traditional provider, or get a streaming package. In my mind dumping the traditional package is cutting the cord.

  • Sunny Rain

    Sling and DirecTV Now are incapable of offering a solution good enough to compel people to happily switch from cable/satellite and hurt Dish, U-Verse/DirecTV. That’s why they make their services horrible in terms of content and features on purpose. So, while they are still cord-cutting, they’re only there to capture the market for those who don’t have much choices.

    Hulu will have a conflict of interest as well since it’s owned by content providers. But how that plays out is yet to be seen. The most likely outcome is a more expensive package, more ads and less content from non-partner networks like Viacom, AMC.

    PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV, on the other hand, don’t have any conflict of interests and are likely to provide the best features. Their only problem is going to be channel lineup.

    • Lynnneez

      I would disagree with the statement that Sling and DirecTV Now are incapable of offering a solution good enough for people to switch. When Sling came out it was an absolute godsend compared to the mediocre options you had to hobble together if you wanted to watch any semblance of television using the internet instead of a cable subscription plan, which by the way is my definition of cord cutting. I think the word “cord” should just be removed as it gives fundamentalists too literal of a description. Obviously, cord cutting, despite its name, cannot occur without a cord, at least to the internet unless you plan on acting out movies and television shows yourself.

      Before Sling, you literally had ZERO ways to watch anything that was from real TV. Your options were the free crap on Roku, and maybe a few online clips from a couple of broadcasters and then later the free local channel broadcasts, but for the most part, it meant not being able to watch anything on tv at all, so very few people “cut the cord” and very few would do that now considering all the great options available now.

      For those that want an exact facsimile of cable without having to subscribe to big cable for television, your expectations should be lowered. These services all started out as being cable alternatives as in lower price and as much TV as they could fit into that price. DVR, was a dream I thought would surely never happen, at least not in the original minimalist model that some have for cord cutting as in the “a la carte” dreams, which in reality is wanted by probably very few people.

      Judging by the success of PS Vue, DirectTV Now, and Sling and the lack of any successful a la carte service coupled with the many complaints about this or that station or feature missing that you could get on Comcast for a mere $50 more or dammit, I’m paying only $45 for 60 channels, but they took Viacom so I’m out; its pretty clear that what people want when they “cut the cord” is exactly what they are getting from cable right down to the channel lineup and DVR, but for a quarter of the price and ideally with internet included. Given that, and the complete lack of options up until January 2015 when Sling launched, I think we have it pretty good. I subscribe to multiple service, I have more viewing options than I know what to do with and yet I still pay less than I did for Comcast…although what I pay for their internet is more than what I pay for my TV services….finding alternatives for that should be the next “cord cutting” movement.

  • Pebo Bryson

    OTT is cable lite. No way around it. It won’t be long till OTT is bundled with your wireless and ISP just like traditional cable triple plays. Then you’re back to square one. You can make your readers feel good by calling them cord cutters I have no problem with that. Paying for commercials is very UN-cordcutter like in my opinion tho.

    • Sunny Rain

      AT&T is pretty much doing it by offering DirecTV Now for $10 to AT&T wireless customers. And they will try to bundle, but at the end of the day, there’s going to be more competition than Sling and DTVN can take. PS Vue, YouTube and Hulu are independent from cable companies. So, they have no desire to make you get internet or home phone.

      • Pebo Bryson

        Until Comcast and Verizon enter the OTT market and/or partner with YouTube, Hulu ect or make them go out of business.

    • Richard smith

      So, Hulu subscribers are only cord cutters if you are on the commercial free plan.

      • Pebo Bryson

        yes. pay the extra $5 and be a cord cutter. lol

    • Bruce Wayne

      Commercials doesn’t indicate if it is a cord cutting service or not. Don’t be stupid.

      • Pebo Bryson

        it does actually. you pay for cable and commercials. you pay for OTT and commercials. one in the same. don’t be a momo Bruce

        • Bruce Wayne

          No, genius. Cord cutting is about changing your delivery system. In this case from traditional satellite and cable to internet delivery. What one watches is no indication of cord cutting.

          • Pebo Bryson

            sure you believe what you want to believe. doesn’t make you right

          • Bruce Wayne

            Educate yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cord-cutting

            No mention of “commercials”.

          • Pebo Bryson

            so wikipedia is the authority in cord cutting now? At the end of the day Bruce you’re still paying for commercials just like cable.

          • Bruce Wayne

            And you are the authority in cord cutting? “Commercials is not cord cutting”. Don’t make me laugh.

          • Pebo Bryson

            actually I AM cord cutting Bruce. Unlike you I haven’t paid for a commercial since 2009. I know you’re having a hard time putting things together, the whole cable and OTT (cable lite) thing. You can’t just turn on your fire tv and DTTN and become Bruce Wayne cord cutting authority who tries to bully CCN posters with your troglodyte mind. Fall back already, go yell at some kinds who are walking on your lawn or something.

          • Bruce Wayne

            Ah, yes. The Pleb Bryson cord cutter authority is the only way. Commercials is what deems cord cutting. You truly are a laugh.

    • Ben M

      Well this conversation just proved Cord Cutter News right…definition of cord cutting is different for everyone. I tend to agree with Pebo…..my view is that cord cutting means not having the traditional style cable package (lots of channels + commercials) regardless of delivery method. Ala Carte with no commercials, no contracts, no fees is what I consider cord cutting. However, that is just my view and does not make me right or wrong, nor is anyone disagreeing with that view right or wrong.

  • BigO

    I tend to try and not get too caught-up in the definitions. Although we do not subscribe to any of these services, I do not deride anyone who does / stays with cable in some capacity. Personally, I love how many services are available. In the end, I think it is more about saving money, however you do it, versus worrying about definitions.

  • HeyRadar

    Theoretically, when satellite TV debuted (especially the small dish) it was today’s Sling TV, etc. It was a break from being controlled by your local cable providers​.

    History could repeat itself, but the good thing is that this time there will be lots of competitors.

  • Keith Foster

    Vegan vs Vegetarian

    So I guess I’m a Cabletarian I still use cable byproducts like an OTT service etc. I look at it the way the industry looks at it. A person who doesn’t subscribe to a “traditional” service like DTV, Dish, or Cox.

  • stumpy579

    As long as there is at least one option that is not owned by cable/satellite you can call it cord cutting. Right now it looks like Vue Fubo and Youtube are not owned or partially owned by the old monopoly. Comcast owns 30% of Hulu. Comcast and Verizon are coming out with their own services. The only thing stopping the services owned by the old monopoly from bending the consumer over again is the competition from the independent services like Vue. Even if you don’t use Vue you had better pray it survives or doesn’t get bought out by the old monopoly. The field is getting crowded but most of these services are owned by the old monopoly. Their goal is and always has been to eliminate outside competition. Already we have a situation where Viacom is only available on cable/satellite or OTT services owned by them. The old monopoly is working hard to regain control.

  • Karl Childers

    Cord cutting probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some it may mean completely eliminating their dependency on paid linear television programming. For others it may be having more entertainment options and not being locked in a contract with a certain provider.

    Most of the arguments about what it means to be a “true” cord cutter are pointless and self-serving. We all have a shared interest in the topic and there seems to be a general opposition to status quo within the industry.

    • Joseph ewing

      “Most of the arguments about what it means to be a “true” cord cutter are pointless and self-serving.”

      BRAVO!!!!

  • Baboonie

    you don’t even have to subscribe to one of the services. There are quite a few ota channels that are streamed free and in the clear from their website. Here is a list of channels I’ve found if anybody is interested. AMGTV,Comet TV,Tuff TV,REV’N,Newsmax,ASN(AmericanSportNetwork,YooToo,The Country Network,Pursuit,Classic Arts Network,Smileofachild,TBN,DRTV,BizTV,Charge TV,TBD,Juce,Movee4U,WeatherNation, Thats just some of the OTA networks on the net. Auctually think all Sub carrier channels,like Comet TV,TUFF TV,AMGTV should be also over the net free to anyone, Not the Main broadcast channels like ABC,CBS but thats would be ok to like you find The CW, My favorite channel for shows and Comet TV for my free scifi.

    • Bruce Wayne

      You can’t get your sports fix on any of those channels.

    • PRMan

      ABC and CBS show the last 5 episodes free on their websites.

  • To me, cord cutting is getting rid of any subscription and bill. To me cord cutting is finding the same for free with no bill. I hate when these articles say, for example “how to watch discovery channel if you are a cord cutter”, to then find out I still have to subscribe to something. Smh. After I pay for all these subs it’ll be cheaper to pay for the cable bundle.

  • TerryL

    Is it really “cord cutting” or “cord replacing”?? Yes you’re cutting the cord from cable/satellite and replacing it with a corded internet modem as your prime source of entertainment. When you break it down, how much money are you really saving from cable/satellite? Your monthly internet Bill can be anywhere from $20 to $70 depending on what type of package you have. That is part of the “cord cutting” cost. I pay SlingTV $45 per month which is exactly 84 channels, but I also pay about $40 per month for ISP. That’s $85 per month to achieve what channels I want.

  • Bruce Wayne

    Cord cutting means not watching TV using the traditional methods from the old guard.

    • Pebo Bryson

      whatever brings you to your safe space Bruce

  • Gern Blandersong

    “Cord cutting” to me means not paying a subscription for any video media content. At its most basic, it means zero subscription cost. You only find media from your internet connection or from the broadcast signals in the air.

    You cease to become a cord cutter if you subscribe to Netflix or Hulu or Sling, or etc…. I really enjoy this “Cord Cutters” website/blog, but it should really be renamed to “Cable TV alternatives” website.

    • Ben M

      I agree. However, I am willing to pay a fee to avoid 1/3 of my time being consumed by commercials (Netflix, commercial free Hulu, etc.). What i am not willing to do is pay a fee AND have 1/3 of my time consumed by commercials which is what traditional cable & alternative cable (sling, DirectTV Now, PSVue) offer.

  • Rick Jones

    I was a cord cutter for 2 years and loved it. I called up Charter a couple months ago to renegotiate my Internet bill. Have done that the past 2 years with great success because my electric has internet/cable and charter wants to keep me at least on the internet plan. Sadly they pulled me back into cable but with no contract. I got cable for 29.95, silver for 12, and internet for 39.95. Now that is for 1 year but its no contract. The reason for the odd pricing was they talked me into the 39.95 cable and 39.95 internet and I called the next day to cancel because I told them all the channels I wanted to watch was on the Silver package and I wasnt willing to pay any more then what I was paying so she said she had to charge 12 for silver but she could lower basic to 29.95 to keep me. It may not be cord cutting but it shows how desperate the traditional cable companies are getting. They are willing to chop prices lower then I was paying for internet and PVue says a lot.

    • Richard smith

      What about the FEES? $20 whole home Dvr, Rsn, Broadcast. Spectrum would cost me $30 Just in fees no channels.

  • Jim Schwartz

    Yes, you cut the “cord” because you aren’t paying for a cable or satellite box. But you are still paying for those same channels at a cheaper rate. Is too true cord cutting that is to each his own. I have an antenna for my local channels, Netflix, Hulu plus, MLB.tv for Cubs games, and Amazon prime.

  • JJ

    Sling TV & especially Direct TV now are just cable streamed over the internet. They still have linear channels. They’re only partial cord cutting.

  • Schulzey

    As long as I have the freedom to drop any of my services without penalty at any time, I save money every month, and I have greater flexibility than I ever had with traditional cable or satellite subscription models, then I don’t care what you call it. I went years without an OTT service after dropping DirecTV. Though I pay for it now, I could drop it again tomorrow. Online. Without penalty or having to deal with a Retention Specialist. That is the winning formula for me.

  • air kell

    I could prefer the term “Cord Switching” to describe the practice of giving (increasing) monthly $$ to a media provider.

  • Ryan

    I think cord cutting is streaming anything over the internet.