You really don’t need to pay that high cable bill when there are many low-cost cable TV options out there. All of these options are available on your computer, and most of them can be viewed on your phone or tablet. If these are going to be your main viewing option then I suggest that you get yourself a set-top box that you can connect to your main television and then watch TV from the comfort of your sofa (or bed).
Low-Cost Cable TV: What You Need
Depending on what you watch and what kind of viewing experience you’re hoping for, you’ll have to figure out just exactly what you need.
There are now a plethora of set top boxes out there that can be used for watching movies or your favorite television program from a streaming service. Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV are the big ones currently on the market, but there are also several others such as Boxee.
Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Roku all have built-in programming that will let you access your subscribed streaming content directly. Simply click on the appropriate icon and you have loaded Netflix, Hulu, etc.. Google Chromecast ‘broadcasts’ whatever is on your computers Chrome browser, this nice is nice because it lets you access anything on the Internet, but it can be a bit difficult to set up and prevents anyone else from using that computer when you want to watch TV.
If you can’t afford a set-top box then you may already have something capable of picking up digital content. Your Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii all have digital streaming capability as do many of the Blu-Ray players currently on the market.
A Good Internet Connection
If you are on dial-up (yes, it still exists), then don’t even think about any streaming services, you will be paying good money for a lot of frustration. You need a broadband connection with at least 0.5 Megabits per second. Many ISPs will also put on a data or Bandwidth cap, so it’s recommended that you see what that is before you start streaming so you don’t exceed it.
Now that you’re set up, you’ll have to sort through what movies and shows are available on which streaming services.
Cost: $7.99/ month
Unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows on up to two devices simultaneously. Netflix offers a wide variety of shows and try to offer recommendations based off what you have previously liked. They rarely have the newest movies, they are usually 6-8 months behind release dates. Most popular TV shows are a season behind, but you have the luxury of viewing them at your leisure, not on a networks schedule. Netflix also has a growing catalog of original programming that you won’t find elsewhere.
Unlimited streaming of some of the most popular TV shows and some movies. A large portion of their content if available for free, however if you want to watch current shows then you need the subscription. Unfortunately, even with the paid service, you are subject to ads.
Cost: $2/night to rent and up
This is a pay-per-unit type streaming service that allows you to rent movies ( or series season) for a night as a time. It also lets you purchase digital copies of movies and TV shows. If you pay a premium you can also watch many movies before they are released to video, some even while they are still in the theater. This is probably one of the best ways to watch newly released movies. The one problem is that not all the movies are available in HD.
Cost $1.99 and up
YouTube is not just about home videos and vloggers anymore they also have a selection of pay-per-view videos. You can buy or rent movies using your ‘Google Wallet’. It offers a wide variety of series, movies, classics, documentaries and foreign films. The one problem is that they don’t always have the latest release movies.
Amazon Instant Video
Cost: $1 and up; Some content is Free for Amazon Prime subscribers.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime to save money on shipping then this is definitely the viewing choice for you. They have a large variety of programming from all the networks and several of the new release movies.
Cost: $1.99 and up
If you are an Apple user then you already have an iTunes account. They have a huge variety of TV shows and movies that can be easily purchased or rented. The prices tend to be a little higher than many of the other streaming options, but many enjoy the fact that they can watch on any of their iOS devices. The big problem with this option is rather obvious to those of us who have not joined the cult of Apple.
Cost: $1.99 and up
Similar to iTunes but for Android users. They offer a wide variety of programming from hit shows to classic movies. Once again a problem to anyone not affiliated with Android.
These are just a few of the many choices available to you. Other options include Redbox, Zune and CinemaNow. It all depends what you want to watch, where you want to watch it and how much you are willing to pay. There are many low-cost cable TV options out there, you can use one or a several, it is all up to you.
If these low-cost Cable TV options didn’t do it for you, and you want to save even more money, then check out the free TV viewing options that are available.
Photo Credit: Jiří Zralý