You’ve thought about it. A lot. The ridiculous cable fees, constant interrupted service and endless channels with nothing on but real housewives and hipster sitcoms have almost driven you to madness.
So why not cut the cord and ditch the cable box? The truth is, you don’t want to miss out on the few good shows and movies you actually watch. Are the rumors true? Is online streaming content better? Can man really survive on Internet alone? The answer is yes. The list of shows and movies available on streaming services is ever growing, and the costs are significantly lower than cable or satellite subscriptions. Consider these factors when you think about making the switch.
There are lots of options for streaming entertainment. You can use your laptop or tablet to watch shows and movies from streaming services, but if you want to stream to your TV, you’ll have to get a streaming device.
If you have a gaming system like a Playstation or XBox, you can usually access basic services like Netflix or Hulu. If you’re not a gamer or want a more versatile or space-saving option, devices like Roku or Chromecast are small and affordable and can access many different streaming services, including Amazon Prime, YouTube and even Pandora for music streaming. They can even link to your laptop or tablet so you can control them from anywhere and keep track of your “to watch” list.
What can I watch and where can I watch it?
As far as streaming service options go, it depends on what you watch most often.
Netflix has a pretty extensive selection of classic films, science fiction favorites and new and original shows. Plus it’s pretty reasonably priced around $8 a month.
Amazon Instant Video is another service that has many of the same titles as Netflix. It is free with an Amazon Prime membership, which costs less than $100 per year. The major difference is the original and exclusive shows. Most recently, Prime has added popular HBO shows to its library. Another benefit of Prime is the ability to instantly rent or buy shows and movies that are not offered with the streaming service. For a couple bucks, you can rent a movie instantly instead of running down the street to the RedBox or waiting for Netflix disks in the mail.
If you want new shows that have just aired, Hulu Plus is a good option. Hulu offers some free shows for a limited time after they air, but for around $8 a month you have a wider variety and you don’t have to wait for the seasons to end and be added to Amazon or Netflix months later.
What you won’t get
Sure, there are a couple downsides to only using streaming services. As the blog Techlicious notes, major events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl can be hard to find via streaming if you want to watch them live. Major sports fans may also find their favorite teams and games might be difficult to get. But, there’s always your friend’s house or the local sports bar.
How much do you really save?
So with the cost of a streaming device and service, how much do you really save if you cut the cable cord? You total cost for switching to streaming depends on your device and service options.
For example, if you buy a Roku device for $50, add Netflix for $8 a month and Hulu Plus for $8 a month and then get the rest of your streaming content from free sources, you have a one-time cost for the device and then pay less than $20 per month for services, plus Internet costs, which may run $30 or more without a cable bundle.
However, as Market Watch points out, the cost of cable and TV services are just going to rise, especially as more users switch to streaming. For a full package with premium channels like HBO, you may pay more than $100 each month. The bottom line is that cutting the cord has significant savings and benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Research your options and entertainment needs to see if it’s the right option for you.