You’ve probably already heard, either directly from a friend, or through “someone who knows someone,” that there is life beyond the confines of cable. You know, the person who decided to cut cable out of their lives and completely turn to distributed content online. Is it possible to make this kind of decision while still viewing quality content and keep up to date with your weekly programming? The answer is yes, and here’s how.
A recent study showed 16% of Canadians are considering dumping their cable or satellite subscriptions, so you aren’t alone. A recent Ipsos Reid poll stated that actually closer to 25% don’t have traditional TV subscription. Whatever the number is, I am sure it will continue to increase, and for good reason. The cost of cable is high, typically $80 to $110 per month, and the way channels are bundled you have to buy a bunch of extra channels you don’t want in order to get what you really want. The Conservative Government recently indicated they will be legislating the cable companies to provide more flexibility for buying channels, but the verdict is still out on what it will look like and if it will actually be a benefit for consumers.
I still have my satellite monthly subscription but have often wondered if I would be better off dumping it and just sourcing what I want to watch separately. Some of it could even be free. I haven’t done the math because it isn’t necessarily that easy to do, but intuitively I could very well be better off. Here are the options that I would consider before I said goodbye to my cable company.
OTA – Over the Air
The first thing I would do is connect a digital antennae to my TV. I actually think this makes sense even with a cable subscription, because you will get true HD with a higher resolution than with your cable. The OTA antennae is a very reasonable one-time cost and the programming is all free. Shelagh recently posted an excellent description of OTA, so click here to have a look. Each city is different in terms of what is available OTA, but now you will know what content you don’t need to buy. There is a site called TV Fool that you can help you get a pretty good idea of what channels are available at your address.
The Philips Amplified Indoor Outdoor Antennae and the RCA HDTV Antennae are both good options but there are lots more to choose from. Depending on where you live you may want to get an outdoor vs. indoor antennae. It may be a little hassle to setup an outdoor one, but the signal and number of stations you can get will be better.
Another must-have for cutting your cable box is a streaming box of some description. They are easy to setup, inexpensive, and very flexible in that they can make a large amount of content available. The Internet can be better than cable in that you can choose exactly what you want to watch and only purchase or view that, and much of it could be free
Initially you should look to getting a box to stream content to your TV as gone are the days where you have to squint at your computer screen to watch your favorite shows off the Internet. There are many streaming devices that can get this content on to your wonderful big flat screen HDTV. If you are uncertain how to best stream to your TV, have a look at my recent post on streaming.
Today’s smart TV’s have the ability to stream programming without the use of a streaming box, but if you do not have one in your home there are many box streaming devices on the market such as, Roku, Apple TV, and gaming devises such as PS4 or Xbox One, to name a few. With many of them you can also mirror your Smartphone or Tablet on your TV, and some TV’s have that capability . So whatever you see on your tablet or phone you can now display on your TV. There are a lot of stations like CBC, NBC, etc. that puts a lot of their programming that you can see through their apps. For instance the CBC app had great coverage of the Olympics – who needs cable?
Pay per Show
Although there is a lot of free content available on the net, many of the better shows like Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones or recently released movies can also be bought. For TV series you can buy a whole season at a time and binge watch or do it on your own schedule. The nice thing is you only are buying what is of value to you, and with the money you will save from cable, you can afford a lot of programming.
For the sports junkies out there it may be slightly more difficult to cut the cable if you are obsessed with curling for example, but if your interests lean more to football, hockey, or baseball then there are options like getting a league pass which are provided by the MLB or NHL for a price, but allows you to live stream all the big games from a streaming device. If you are a sports junkie, then think about what you really want to watch and use Google to find out how you can get that content over the Internet.
Before taking the plunge from cable, a few other things to watch for includes your Internet provider. If you are a TV junkie, then you will be streaming a bunch which means you could be reaching Internet usage limits on your monthly connection. Also, if the Internet speed and connection to your home i
s poor, you should get that fixed first as it may not make video streaming all that pleasant. I would suggest you should get that fixed any way – don’t let your Internet provider give you bad connectivity as they usually can fix it and that is what you are paying for.
Cutting cable from your life may mean there are a few obscure sports programming choices that you may not be able to view anymore, but considering the money you may save and the ability to get the entire season of Breaking Bad before your cable friends, it could all be worth it!