Giving up cable doesn’t mean going back to the Dark Ages, at least not in the age of digital media streaming. Many people have chosen to forgo the substantial monthly cost of cable in lieu of an internet connection and a few affordable media streaming services. Furthermore, the popularity of online-only media content, like Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, is leading to more and more media being produced exclusively for online viewers. Here are just a few of the benefits of giving up cable:
- Big savings. Cable prices have steadily crept higher over the years. Now many customers pay upwards of $150 a month for premium channels because the basic channels broadcast little more than bass fishing, so-bad-it’s-bad reality TV and 90210 reruns so old, Dylan still looks like a teenager. Cutting the cable cord leaves you more money to put toward your family vacation or to pay off debt.
- No mindless channel surfing. You know the drill: turn on the TV. Click a few buttons. Nothing. Click to the next channel. Nothing. Get rid of your cable box and take back your free time by watching what you want to watch, when you want to watch with on-demand media streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and AppleTV.
- No need for a traditional “TV set.” Watching TV online lets you choose what device you watch it on, which is perfect for families with laptops or tablets. Some tablet owners can also get wireless services to stream in the car, which is perfect for those long road trips.
- Less commercials. Let’s face it: one of the worst parts of watching cable TV is the endless commercials that play for 10 minutes for every 20 minutes of programming. Media streaming services either dramatically reduce or completely eliminate the number of advertisements to which your family will be exposed.
But how to access all your favorite shows and movies once you’ve cut the cable cord? These are some of the best alternatives to cable TV:
Roku & Apple TV. Roku and Apple TV are boxes that make your TV internet-capable, so you can access online streaming services (like those listed below) on your home TV. They can access your wireless router, so that’s one less cable running through your house. Apple TV even has its own version of iTunes that will let you rent or buy TV shows and movies—sometimes immediately after they have been released.
Netflix. Media available from Netflix’s streaming service features a constantly updated list of oldies-but-goodies, as well as recent releases. Netflix is also currently enjoying a renaissance as the “it” place for original programming for adults, with hit shows like Orange Is The New Black, Lilyhammer and House of Cards.
Hulu. Hulu’s media streaming service features some free programming, with a premium service that allows you access to network shows like Dr. Who, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Cosmos and the Mindy Project.
Amazon Prime Instant Video. Amazon Prime’s up-and-coming media streaming offerings may soon rival Netflix. You’ll have to purchase a yearly Amazon Prime subscription to stream movies and TV available as part of the Prime Instant Video service, but for the cost of one month of cable, you can enjoy a year’s worth of movies, TV and more from Amazon’s large media collection.
Network websites. Almost every network will post recent episodes on their official website. Be wary, though: sometimes the episodes are truncated, and they usually don’t stay up long, so don’t count on binge-watching your favorite show.
The library. Did you know that the library is more than a place to take out books or use the bathroom in an emergency? Most libraries have video lending sections where you can take out the latest DVD releases. The downside is that the video often aren’t in the best repair and you have to plan ahead, but nothing beats the reduced price—or in some cases, free media rental!