This last month I paid $70.96 for cable alone. That doesn’t include phone or internet or fancy movie channels like HBO. Only cable. Through many conversations with friends, I know that I am not the only one with ever-growing contempt for cable companies. And like many of those friends, I am also getting ready to cut the cable cord! Just to confirm my anecdotal assumptions, I found the following quote from Bloomberg: “In 2013, the number of Americans who pay for Cable TV, satellite, or fiber services fell by more than 250,000. This was the first full year where cable users steadily declined.”
Now don’t be discouraged; there are other options that give you access to new television shows without the gouging price tag of traditional cable services. Let’s take a look at some of the best options out there.
Price = $8/month
Netflix came onto the scene in 1999 when it introduced it’s flat-rate DVD-by-mail service. Just over 15 years later, Netflix has over 50 million users. The driving force behind what now defines Netflix is the internet video streaming service. A report by Sandvine in 2013 stated that Netflix is the biggest source of North American downstream internet traffic at 32.3%. Now, Netflix offers somewhere around 10,000 online streaming titles. Of all the online streaming TV services, Netflix is also known for having the most exclusive content with shows like House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black headlining.
Price = $8/month
Some people argue that Hulu Plus is a little fish in a sea of sharks. Currently, Hulu Plus only has around 5 millions subscribers. But there is one thing that Hulu Plus does better than anyone else. It offers the most current running episodes of your favorite TV shows. Instead of waiting another year for your favorite show to show up on Netflix, snag a Hulu Plus account and watch the latest seasons now.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Price = $8.25/month
Amazon Prime Instant Video really doesn’t sound too much different than Netflix. Users of this service have access to over 40,000 titles! More impressive than the video streaming service is that the only way to get Prime Instant Video is to sign up for Amazon Prime shipping which means that you have access to free two-day shipping on Amazon products. An impressive 20,000 people have are signed up for Amazon Prime. But it’s likely that only a fraction (~25%) actually use Instant Video. My suggestion: sign up for Prime shipping and reap the benefits of Instant Video as an added bonus.
Price = $15/month
Limitations: Available in April, 2015
During Apple’s iWatch announcement event on March 9th, HBO was officially unveiled. HBO Now is a stand-alone service that gives users streaming access to all of HBO’s content. The going rate for access to some of the greatest shows ever created? $15 per month. And don’t worry; it will be here just in time for the season premier of Game of Thrones which is due out April 15th.
Sling TV by Dish:
Price = $20/month
Access: ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney, ABC Family, CNN, IFC, El Rey Network, Maker, Galavision.
Limitations: You can only watch Sling on 1 device at a time. Picture quality is almost as good as traditional cable. Since you are using the internet to watch Sling, you need an unlimited internet package with no data cap.
At the most recent CES (consumer electronics show), Dish announced a new alternative to traditional cable TV called Sling TV. And on February 9th, 2015, Sling TV was launched. Sling is a version of internet TV that users can access through streaming boxes such as Roku or mobile devices. Basic Sling TV includes Disney, ESPN, Food Network, HGTV, TNT, CNN and TBS. In addition, you are able to purchase more channels grouped by themes (i.e. sports, or kid’s programs) for an additional $5 per month. The TV channels are live channels, just like normal TV, except they are delivered over the internet. An important detail of Sling TV is that it doesn’t require a contract. You can cancel at any time with no penalties.
So there you have it folks. Tons of ways to access cable content without paying the exorbitant cable prices. And as a last bit of advice, it is important to recognize that many of these services have free trial periods! Give some of these options a try and see if you can live with an alternative to cable TV.