Can I Really Watch TV without Cable? It's Time to Find Out...
Having a cable TV subscription may give you a wonderful experience. Your cable TV provider delivers hundreds of channels or shows straight to your television; all you have to do is to choose the channel that you want to watch. With cable TV, you get to enjoy various TV shows and programs from the latest news or Hollywood gossips, reruns of your favorite movies to the latest episode of your favorite primetime TV series.
Depending on your subscription, you can order titles from a huge collection of an on-demand library or purchase live events with a pay-per-view service. With cable TV, your viewing choices will seem limitless and all the best that the entertainment industry has to offer is only a touch of a button away.
Cable TV is great except for one thing, which is the monthly bill. Depending on the area and the service provider, cable TV service can cost anywhere from $30 to $60 for a basic line up of channels per month. You also have to pay extra for additional or premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and Starz, and a few dollars more for HD channels. After all, what good is an HDTV without HD channels?
In some cases, with your busy schedule, you may not find the time to watch TV at all. On the other hand, you can be the type of person who loves to binge watch one entire season of a favorite TV series or go through your favorite movies one after another in one weekend. If this is the case, then it is about time to find alternatives to cable TV.
Advancements in technology have given consumers more options to watch movies and TV shows besides cable TV. Some of these options can help save a few extra bucks while others will require special equipment or added expense, but these options can be tailor-fit to a viewer’s need or lifestyle. Nevertheless, one should first list down all his or her preferred TV shows before checking the options below.
Stick with a TV Antenna
This is the most traditional method. The old-fashioned antenna on an old TV can still pick up local channels. However there is one major thing to watch out for and that is the quality of reception, which may not be as crisp as having a cable cord plugged to the back of the appliance. Luckily, TV antennas are not gone for good and modern antennas, like the Mohu Curve, have evolved to look stylish. They are also more powerful than the traditional rabbit ears antennas that are used to be attached at the back of old TVs, or installed in rooftops.
It is also important to note that equipment like these must be purchased. For antennas like the Moho Curve to work, the TV should also have a built in tuner or set-top digital box. That may be a separate expense if you don’t have it yet. However, the one-time cost of at least $50 to buy an indoor antenna can be worth ditching the monthly cable TV subscription fee because these modern indoor antennas can access free over-the-air broadcast channels, some of which are already available in HD. Then again it may be more powerful and more stable than the old antennas but its reception strength still depends on the proximity to broadcast towers, geographical barriers or weather conditions. Lastly, note that broadcasting depends on programming timeslots so if the viewer is willing to work around a schedule, the monthly savings may be worth it.
Access online shows on your TV
You may want to check if your TV has the capability to stream online. Many new generation flat TVs or Smart TVs can stream movies or television shows from Netflix and Hulu Plus once connected to the internet, either wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable.
Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized the way entertainment is delivered to many homes. Netflix even has its own TV shows that are not available anywhere else with episodes accessible all together at once on launch dates like Marvel’s Daredevil and House of Cards. One of the good things with this online streaming service is that you can watch these shows not only on TV, but also on a computer, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. Between Netflix and Hulu, there is a wide list of movies and shows to choose from. Furthermore, you can watch shows with no commercials. Plans can be as low as $8 per month with increments depending on the type of content you want to get. The monthly subscription cost of this online service is way less than cable TV.
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages to using either Netflix or Hulu. One is that you may have to wait at least a day before getting the show. Another is that these services still have content restrictions. For example, Netflix has many titles in its library that are still not available for streaming. Contents may also vary per location. Moreover, there are Hulu contents that are not allowed to be watched on TV despite the monthly fee. Nevertheless, for a small monthly price, there are so many shows to choose from and there really is no problem unless your internet is not fast enough to allow streaming.
Purchase Streaming Equipment
Since Netflix and Hulu Plus have their own limitations, a viewer can expand his options by getting a streaming set-top box such as the Apple TV, Roku or Google’s Chromecast. These devices need internet connection and must first be checked for compatibility with the TV’s model. Furthermore, these gadgets can cost from $35 to $200, but with these devices, the viewer can binge watch, at any date or time, old TV shows like Dexter, X-files, and Breaking Bad, as well as currently running shows like Downton Abbey, The Grimm and their previous seasons or lots of other movies. Note, however, that newer shows or episodes are only available a day after their air date.
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There are some things to take note of before buying these devices. Google’s Chromecast is a new player in this market so it has limited content at the moment. On the other hand, Apple TV and Roku don’t only have access to Netflix and Hulu, but they also have access to channels like NBC, HBO, Showtime, MTV, among others. While Apple TV only has access to iTunes, Roku provides access to thousands of channels in the US.
In addition, it is important to remember that these devices may not offer all channels or movies for free as Netflix and Hulu will still require a paid monthly subscription. Moreover, Apple TV and the Roku set top boxes offer access to NBA, MLB and NHL channels at a certain cost, which may not be cheap. Lastly, besides watching shows and movies, there are also apps like YouTube, PBS Kids, and CNN Go among others that are as interesting the established channels. One can even play games with these devices.
Use Gaming Consoles to Stream TV Shows or Movies.
New generation gaming consoles such as Playstation 4, Xbox One, or the Nintendo Wii can now be used as streaming devices for movies, YouTube, Twitch or even basic TV. Of course, it is not wise to buy them for the sole purpose of watching TV because these consoles cost anywhere from $200 to $400, but if they are already there in the household, why not use them for watching TV as well.
The Xbox One was recently upgraded with the new sort of “all-in-one” Windows 10 interface that lets the Xbox owner conveniently access TV shows and videos through popular apps like Netflix and Hulu and apps that the Apple TV and Roku also offers. Sony’s PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii have the same capabilities, but Nintendo Wii has access to limited content.
Get Satellite or Dish TV
They are cable TV’s number one competitors as they offer the same thing that cable TV offers. While having Dish TV or Satellite TV still means paying a monthly fee of anywhere from $49.99 per month to $89.99 per month, with option of adding premium or additional channels, the companies that provide them claim that they are better and cheaper.
Dish TV offers perks like free installation for up to six rooms or TVs, free premium channels for a limited time, commercial free broadcasting and better technology. Furthermore, Dish TV providers offer stuff like 3-year price guarantee or no price increase to compete with Cable TV providers like Comcast, Charter or Time Warner to name a few. On the other hand, Direct TV also has competitive offers such as no installation or startup costs, no equipment to buy and more HD channels. However, no matter how both Dish and satellite TV claim to be different from cable TV, the thee of them still boil down to one thing and that is monthly service fees that are at least two digits.
Nowadays, getting rid of cable TV is not anymore a matter of saving a few bucks but rather getting more options. Our lifestyle and viewing taste has evolved so much it is not easy to strictly keep up with programming schedules anymore just like viewers did back in the old days. Moreover, a lot of TV viewers no longer like waiting for one whole week between episodes, which is why services like Netflix are gaining popularity fast. In any case, multimedia players may soon be obsolete, but a good DVD or CD is still fun to watch.
However, before getting rid of the coaxial cable behind your TV there are few considerations. Number one is that your cable TV service may be bundled with your Internet and phone, and that bundle may be under a contract. In this case, it is important to check with the provider if cancelling the cable TV service may kick your monthly internet fee out of the special bundle rate, possibly causing the monthly bill to skyrocket. Second, unless you are going for antennas, Dish or Satellite, you still need your internet connection and you need to have one that is steady and fast enough to allow streaming. Just like how antennas are dependent on broadcast signal strength, the quality of online streaming is also dependent on the strength of your Wi-Fi or Internet speed. Imagine what will happen if all ten devices in the house from TVs to mobile phones stream together all at once.
No option is perfect. Depending on the situation or the budget, one option may be better than the other, but before cancelling your cable TV subscription, one should first list down all the pros and cons and make a decision based on what is best according to the individual’s needs. We recommend this online tv service as a great way to start watching TV without the need of any hardware.