Cable television is expensive, and in today’s world it no longer makes much sense. The fact is, almost everything that’s offered by cable TV is available online, and you’re already paying for your Internet, so why pay for both? I’ve been cable TV-free for over six years now, and I can’t think of a single reason to go back. I’ve found ways to watch essentially all programs I would have ever watched on TV, plus much more, and it only gets easier as streaming services expand and online video takes over. If you’re on the fence about making the switch, here are five reasons why you should:
You won’t lose anything
With the wide selection of online streaming options available today, you will still have access to many of the shows you watch on television. From sports and news to sitcoms and especially movies, it’s all available online. Pre-recorded shows like sitcoms will typically show up one day after they air on TV, but news and sports games tend to stream live. If you’re worried you won’t know where to find your shows, don’t be, because…
Making the switch is easy
If you’re looking for sitcoms, dramas, and other prerecorded shows, Hulu.com will have most of them the day after they air on TV. If it’s not available on Hulu, try checking the network’s website. For example, How I Met Your Mother is not available on Hulu, but can be streamed for free on cbs.com.
For news, always go to the news station’s website. For example, FOX CT news can be streamed for free at ctnow.com.
For sports, it varies, but you can find a great guide to sports streaming websites here.
If you’re looking for movies, Netflix is your best bet. Netflix has a huge selection of old and new movies, as well as past seasons of TV shows, all commercial-free. And just in case you’re worried that the big flat screen TV in your living room will go to waste getting all of your videos from the Internet, don’t be, because…
You can watch Internet video pretty much anywhere.
If you can watch it on your computer, you can watch it on your television. Most TVs and computers these days have HDMI ports on them, which means you can just connect an HDMI cable from your computer to your TV, and the computer will handle the rest. You can grab a 10ft cable from one of my favorite website, monoprice.com, for as little as $5. If your TV or computer doesn’t support HDMI, check out this guide from Best Buy to figure out what cable will work for you (the guide says it’s for laptops, but will work just the same for desktops).
Most streaming services also have apps for Smart TVs and devices that hook up to your TV, like gaming consoles, some Blu-ray players, and other media devices like TiVo and Roku.
In addition to your TV and computer, you can watch online video on tablets and smart phones, making streaming a universally more convenient option. If you’re concerned about the cost of membership to these streaming services, don’t be, because even with those costs…
You’ll save a lot of money
The only streaming services you’ll really need to pay for are Netflix and Hulu (an upgrade to a Hulu Plus account is required to watch many videos and to stream from devices other than a computer). Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus each cost $8 per month, so you’re looking at just $16 per month on top of what you already pay for cable Internet. HowStuffWorks recommends at least a 19mbps download speed for streaming HD video. Using that as a minimum, the average difference in price between standalone Internet and Internet + TV bundles from common cable providers like Cox, Comcast, and Charter is about $60 per month, and that doesn’t even include extra TV fees for HD access, DVR, expanded channels, and more. HD is included with your $8 subscription fees for Netflix and Hulu, and since all of their content is technically “on-demand,” you will already have all the perks of a DVR and then some. That means cutting the cable TV cord will net an average savings of at least $44 per month, or $528 a year!
You may even be able to get those services for less if you have a friend or family member who already subscribes. Most streaming services will allow streaming from multiple locations simultaneously, so you can share accounts with someone and split the costs. Maybe you pay for Hulu and the other person pays for Netflix, for example. However, for some reason this does not seem to work with every account, and be forewarned: most streaming services also have policies against account sharing.
Finally, remember that you’ll also get…
A much larger library to choose from.
Netflix and Hulu alone will provide you with more movies, TV shows, and documentaries than you’ll ever be able to watch in one lifetime, and they’re both constantly adding new content. Talk to anyone who uses Netflix and they’ll tell you about their favorite movies and shows that they never knew existed before they signed up. You can check out streamingsoon.com to see what will be added to Netflix’s library in the near future. And both services offer free trial periods, so you can see how you’ll like the cord-cutting lifestyle before you ever commit to anything.
I should also mention that, according to USA Today, even if you don’t have a cable box or pay for any cable TV service, you can still plug the cable into the back of your TV set and receive local channels for free. That means if you want to continue watching some news, sports, and PTA meetings without hooking up your computer to the TV, you can still do that.
–Jesse Tucker | firstname.lastname@example.org