Today is the day. We have cut the cord, said bye bye Sky, dived into the stream.
It was not really a hard decision to make, though there are unknowns. Our Internet is RBI, and we sometimes have issues with speed and congestion of the distant tower we depend on. Sometimes we get buffering, sometimes so bad as to make things unwatchable, but this is better than it used to be and it doesn’t affect everything. Time will tell. The hope is that our connection will get better, not worse. 5g is on the horizon, I suppose.
Most things work pretty well most of the time. The FTA live streams are almost always flawless. Most of the on demand stuff works well. The buffering and stuttering issues seem to affect only a few sites, and those are not ones we rely on.
Sky has not been a value for money proposition for us for a long time. We don’t watch sports. We rarely watch films. The Arts channel and the documentary channels were the selling points for us. But Sky is an expensive choice just to get arts, and the frequent, lengthy, repetitive promos on Discovery, Nat Geo, History and BBC were driving us to distraction. Why pay tons of money to put up with this crap when it can be so much better?
I have done my research. For our viewing tastes, many of the free options are better than the paid ones. We do not care about blockbuster films. We do not have a giant screen in a dedicated home theatre. For us, regular HD is more than good enough, and even SD is perfectly acceptable. It is better than what we were getting on our old Sky decoder. Most of the stuff we like to watch is in lower resolution anyway. You can’t put something back that isn’t there in the first place.
I looked at pre-packaged solutions like Roku and Apple TV, but was worried about lack of flexibility if tied to their apps since our viewing tastes are not mainstream. I finally decided, in the first instance at least, to go it alone with Android and Kodi. For me that was a steep learning curve, as I had no prior experience with either. It is still a work in progress, but it is going well so far.
The hardest thing is avoiding illegal pirate streams. Even with the crackdown they are still everywhere. My add-ons mainly come from the official Kodi repository, plus a few others. I don’t have a problem using geo-unblocking to access overseas public service broadcasting and those are the additional sites. With that, and the FTA channels made available by Apsattv and others, and the enormous amount of content on YouTube, we have far more choice, and far fewer ads, than we ever had on Sky. To say that piracy is responsible for declining Sky subscriptions is nonsense. What is responsible is Sky itself. When I can get sites like Curiosity Stream for a few dollars a month, and Medici TV for a few dollars more, I have no need for Sky at $100+ and I don’t have all the bloody ads either. It is a no-brainer.
Because our RBI has a data cap, we have fallbacks. We can get Freeview via both UHF and Satellite. I have LNBs for D1, D2 and Intelsat 19, and I use the last two in particular for International news services. That includes RT, Euronews, and the French English-language service. On UHF there is Al-Jazeera and RNZ. We are well-covered.
I notice that free film services like Tubi and Pluto seem to have about the same older films as Sky does, so no losses there and there are plenty of other choices to take the place of Rialto. This is also an advantage of having non-mainstream tastes.
Sky still has value for those who can’t find legal alternatives for what they want to watch, but for us it has had its day. We are free, in more senses than one, and we won’t be looking back. I don’t think we will miss Sky at all.