One of the benefits to living in an age where High Speed Internet is everywhere is that there are more choices than ever when it comes to how we experience our media. Specifically, TV has seen a kind of rebirth online. With subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming content directly to your computer, plus the widespread availability of downloadable episodes from Amazon and iTunes, watching TV online through your computer has never been easier.
In fact, Beta News recently reported that 5 million Americans have already ditched traditional Cable TV for watching TV online. But before you put away your TV, you should consider all the pros and cons of watching tv online vs. watching on regular cable.
PRO: You Can Watch on Your Schedule.
Though you have a lot more freedom with Cable TV than you might have before, now that you have a DVR and on-demand content, you are still restricted by content expiration dates and re-airing schedules.
For instance, if your favorite musician is appearing in a special, but you miss the recording, you generally only have a few days to watch the recording on demand (if it appears there at all).
With online viewing, the content will always be there, and it won’t be pulled off after an arbitrary time period. This is especially true if you purchase episodes through iTunes or Amazon, rather than stream through a subscription service.
CON: Watching TV Online is Tough in a Group.
If it’s just you and your computer monitor, you likely won’t have any trouble enjoying your favorite TV show. However, watching TV online in front of a computer screen with two or more people can get a little cozy. Especially if you have a small-to-moderate sized monitor. Even if you have a huge monitor, pulling out the folding chairs and sitting in front of a computer screen hardly replicates the experience of sitting on a couch and watching your favorite show.
You can connect your computer to your TV to watch shows and movies, which does make it much easier to watch in a group.
PRO: It’s Easy to Find Legacy Content.
We’ve all been there — all your friends are talking about a show that is in its fifth or sixth season, and it sounds interesting, but you have no idea where to find the episodes from season one. If you use online streaming services, you can easily find early seasons of popular shows and catch up to more current episodes.
CON: New Content isn’t Always Available.
This is especially true of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which don’t always get the newest seasons of TV shows in a timely fashion. Sometimes you have to wait weeks or even months to catch up on the most recent episodes of shows currently airing on cable and broadcast.
This problem is compounded if you want shows that are airing on HBO, as they do not allow non-subscribers access to their HBO Go streaming service (and HBO shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood) are not available through any streaming service.
PRO: You May Save Some Money
The cost of Cable TV has done nothing but increase over the past few years. If you decide to fire your Cable TV company, you can look for better prices on our Digital Landing deals page, to see what services are offered in your area.
You can also decide to switch to online-only viewing, where you stand to save some more money, albeit with fewer entertainment choices. Netflix and Hulu Plus each cost less than $10 a month, and you can download recent episodes of most TV shows from Amazon and iTunes for less than $2 apiece (for standard definition, HD is generally less than $3). This type of a la carte pricing allows you to control what you pay for and what you don’t.
CON: You Will Need to Keep Track of Your Media Spending
There is a dark side to a la carte spending: it isn’t predictable. Sure, if you stick to streaming services like Hulu Plus and Netflix, you’ll know what your monthly bill will be, but as soon as you start buying episodes and seasons from other services, you may get yourself in trouble. It is very easy to link a credit card with an Amazon or iTunes account and then pay for episodes and seasons as you see fit, but if you don’t keep track of what you are spending and when, you could get yourself into trouble in a big way. And incurring mountains of credit card debt just from watching TV online is never a good idea.
There are many benefits to watching TV online, and cutting ties with your Cable TV company is an option many are taking. However, it is important to look at all the pros and cons of online TV watching and see if it is really a viable option for you and your family. Though it may be cheaper and more convenient, if you watch a lot of TV or like watching with others in your household, it may not be the best option.
Photo Credit: Adam Kuban