|Roku boxes let you choose various channels from the internet |
including unusual channels like the Autism Channel and NASA
Television. You can’t get these on cable TV at all.
I wanted to write some posts that outline a few ways that I have saved more than a few dollars lately. Even if you’re not really on a budget, these ideas should make sense, after all a penny saved is a penny earned, but for most families with kids, every penny helps. This one is about cutting out cable TV in favor of getting your television entertainment through internet-based channels. I have written others about changing your home’s electricity provider and changing your mobile phone provider.
Save Money By Getting Rid of Cable Television and Going with Streaming Video Instead
More and more households are coming around to the idea of getting rid of their cable television provider and sticking with an internet only service. (See here for Nielsen’s survey on this) I used to have cable TV until recently–I was sick of paying $120+ dollars per month for service that I mostly didn’t use. I had a “triple play” from Verizon FIOS which included phone, TV and internet.
First of all, I never once used their phone service. I was very happy with Vonage and didn’t see the need to switch. In fact, the only reason I had Verizon FIOS’ phone service was because it was part of a bundle deal, and if you didn’t get the bundle, you’d wind up paying more than you would if you got it. (You can read more about how to save money on phone service in Part 2 of this series)
Secondly, I hardly ever watched Verizon’s Television offerings. I had hundreds of channels but couldn’t find anything to watch. So that leaves the internet. I rely heavily on good internet service, not just for surfing the web, but also because we do watch alot of streaming video entertainment. So the idea here is get rid of cable TV and then “roll your own” television entertainment instead.
If you are not in a contract with your cable/FIOS provider, then you should be able to cut the service down to internet only. We found that Verizon’s best price for internet was about $75/month–alot cheaper than the $120 we were paying, but still kind of alot. Luckily, we also have Comcast cable in our neighborhood, and they’ve been trying to build up their customer base. They had an offer for relatively fast internet (25down/5 up) for $24/month with taxes for a year (and then it goes up to 34 the next year). So that’s what I decided to go with. Note that you do have other possible options besides cable if you have “alot of bars” for cellular service in your neighborhood you may be able to get a cellular modem from Verizon, AT&T, Clear or FreedomPOP (the later two being the best deals price-wise–again it also depends who’s service has strong signals in your neighborhood)
We have a Roku 3 Box, which is a device that costs between $50-100 and allows you to connect your television to the internet. This device allowed us to watch television series and movies that are available on services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus. If you have a Wii or an X-box, then you will also have the ability to use these services and view their offerings on your television. (See my blog post on Kid’s TV shows that are available on these three services)
We especially like Netflix because it has the largest selection of streaming videos that you can watch on demand. This includes all sorts of television series, comedians, films and educational videos. They also have a DVD service that mails you DVD movies that aren’t available on streaming video. Visit the Netflix website to see their offering and to get a free trial. Netflix streaming costs about $9/month.
HuluPlus is good because it has many more recent TV series that you can watch, but it also has commercials. At this writing HuluPlus costs $7.99/month. You can visit their website to have a look at their offerings.
Amazon Prime is similar to Netflix with a couple of differences. First they have fewer available free viewing choices when compared to Netflix, but they also offer newer movies and tv shows that you can pay-per-view. These choices usually don’t appear on Netflix for a few months, so it is a nice option, but it can cost $1.99 per TV episode, which can add up fast. The other difference is that when you get Amazon Prime, you get free two day shipping on many Amazon.com items and you get a free kindle book rental per month. So the free movies and tv shows on Amazon could be considered a perk if you use it enough to justify the free shipping. Amazon Prime costs $99.99 per year.
You could also get a digital HD antenna to pick up “over the air” channels. Many people have had cable for so long, they don’t even realize this is an option…and in fact, it is a pretty good one. The antennas cost about $30-60 and they are able to pick up many traditional TV stations, plus some other stations that you probably didn’t know you could get for free over the air. This may be a good idea because it does make up for one thing you might miss-if you ever need to watch live news on TV or an event like the Superbowl, it might not be possible without one. Although my Roku box does offer the “Roku News Channel” and in fact Fox News, its not usually “live” news.
It is clear that the costs of Cable TV aren’t going to go down soon unless more people start dumping cable. More than a form of protest, you will save money and probably wind up fairly satisfied with what you get.