In January I wrote here about what it was like to "cut the cord" and get rid of my cable TV package and the ridiculous bill that comes with it. 

I purchased a Roku streaming device and tried out streaming networks such as Sling TV, which was about $20 per month after a free trial period. I mainly got it to watch the 2015 Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, which were on TBS. After the Cubs were eliminated by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series, I dropped Sling because I didn't really watch the other networks and shows that were available on there. 

Well this year the first two rounds of the Cubs playoffs were on Fox Sports 1, which I had no access to without cable. So I got Sling again. This time there was no free trial period (I guess I used that up already and they remember) and the price jumped to $24.99. 

After I signed up, Sling would not work. On the screen a little circle kept spinning round and round, as if waiting to download. After a lengthy service chat with Sling reps that went nowhere, I started a new chat with my Internet provider, AT&T, and eventually we figured out that unplugging the TV and plugging it back in would do the trick. 

By the way - prior to talking to the AT&T service rep, I had a chat going with another representative who kept trying to get me to sign up for new services. I said I wasn't interested, that I only wanted my Sling to work. But a few days later I received an email confirming service changes that I never agreed on. Nice work AT&T. But I fixed that mess and apparently ended up with a better Internet and phone deal for my trouble.

Now that the Cubs are in the World Series and on Fox TV, and thanks to a good outdoor antenna, I no longer needed Sling and ditched it again. Not before I watched the season premiere of "The Walking Dead," because Sling carries AMC, the network that runs the zombie drama. The episode included the brutal beating to death of two characters with a baseball bat. "The Walking Dead" long stopped being suspenseful and interesting to me. Don't need it. That show itself could use a beatdown. 

I also recently signed up to a free month trial of Netflix on my Roku. I did it only to watch the new series "Easy" which was directed and written by Chicago's own Joe Swanberg. After going through those eight episodes I next tackled "Stranger Things" which lived up to its hype. Nothing else bears watching to me, so I'll probably dump Netflix until "Easy" and "Stranger Things" return. 

If there is a movie I want to watch, I continue to rent and watch it from Amazon. And I continue to keep HBO on my Roku, which is $10.99 per month. With shows like "Game of Thrones," "Girls," "The Night Of," and "Westworld," how can I not?

I also subscribe to Showtime on my Roku, which is $14.99 per month. I usually only keep Showtime during seasons of "Shameless" and "Billions." 

And I definitely need Showtime for the upcoming new season of one of the best shows ever on television, "Twin Peaks."


Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.