Cable television is a common luxury for families nowadays. With options like On Demand and other playbacks, as well as some online streaming features from companies like Comcast’s XFinity, it seems like a tempting expense. But if you are like cable viewers for the past several decades, you know that you only watch about 10% of the channels you pay for, with most unnecessary and no way to pick and choose. It is the way that the cable companies manage to gouge customers by forcing them to pay more for more popular cable and premium channels.
But this has always been the way it is, with prices going steadily upward through the years. So why does it make more of a difference now than it did before? It’s simple: there are different services that have now taken their place, and are much more targeted and cost efficient. These are services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Blockbuster. Not to mention free streaming content from network websites themselves.
The question for families now is whether or not it is time to finally give up digital cable and make the complete switch over to Internet streaming sites.
Pros of Digital Cable/Satellite
There are some positives to having a cable or satellite package. One is the huge amount of channels that come with it, many of which you will discover after getting the service for a different channel. Plus, if you want to watch something at any time of night, you have the option. There is no more watching until the television actually turns off and goes to snow or that Stand By card that I remember from the early days of my youth. You can literally watch a show about Hitler’s move into Poland at 4 AM.
Then, there are DVR devices, like the TiVo. These let you record shows onto a hard drive, then watch and delete them at your leisure. You can also set up shows for continual recording every time it is on.
Pros of Online Services
All of the above can pretty much be matched with online viewing services. You can watch them at any time, they are unlimited, and they are prerecorded so there is no need to set that up yourself. Of course, services like Netflix don’t release new seasons, and so you have to wait. But new episodes can generally be seen on Hulu or the network website. Then, of course, you have illegal streaming sites all over, though I can’t recommend you actually use those. It certainly isn’t rare to see a full episode or even movie uploaded onto YouTube or Megavideo, however.
The biggest pro is that these services cost a fraction of the price of cable. Netflix and Hulu Plus are both only $7.99 per year, which covers the wide array of content from both in the older genre, as well as new shows. Amazon Prime is about $80 per year, and comes with additional features like free 2-day shipping on all orders coming directly from the site. Blockbuster has a DVD and in store rental exchange service identical to classic Netflix, for between $9.99 and $19.99 per month. Then, of course, you can stream all instant viewing services on your media devices like gaming consoles, streamers and home theater systems, or just on a television with the proper adapter.
So, let’s look at this from a price angle. For all of that, which is more than you get with cable, if you were to go with the most expensive possible options, you would be paying less than $45 per month. That factors in the cost per month of Amazon Prime, though you would have to pay the annual amount of $79 up front. Which is still about the same you would pay with all installation and start up fees for cable, anyway.
Then, of course, there is the lack of commercials. Some services have them for free viewing, but not many. Certainly not the dozen or so that seem to be shown every ten minutes on cable…something I hate my children seeing.
Is It Time Your Family Gave Up Cable?
I would say it is, yes. You are spending way too much for something you could get for a fraction of the price. Especially now that is has been announced that in 2012 costs are expected to rise again.
Cut out the digital cable and watch your budget show the difference. You can still get standard channels without it, and with so many options for entertainment you won’t miss it.