How to: Cut out Cable

My wife and I watch a lot of TV. You might expect then that we have a high-end service like Comcast, U-Verse, XFinity or Direct TV. If you did you should really read article titles before you read the article.  I’ll give you a moment to be disappointed with yourself.

When we first got U-Verse internet we got one of those “free 6-months of cable deals” as a first time customer. As far as I am concerned there is no greater price than free so we went for it. During that time we discovered a few things:

  • There were more channels we didn’t watch than we did watch
  • Because we didn’t pay extra DVR capability we missed most of the shows we did like due to schedule conflicts
  • In order to get HD channels, we needed to pay even more
  • The cost once out of the promotion was to much to justify considering our monthly salary vs. expenses.

In the end, we cancelled our TV service and searched for alternatives. Lucky for Bethany I’m a technology nerd, and sometimes play video games, so I had a Playstation 3. For those of you who don’t know, the Playstation 3 is a video game console that also allows certain 3rd Party applications on it, and allows connections to local media servers for streaming video content. Let me translate that for a moment. The Playstation 3 (PS3) allows applications like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime to connect to their services and stream content directly onto your television. This opened us up to a lot of content, and has become our primary method of media consumption. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each service as I see them.

Netflix Instant

Most of us know Netflix. Netflix started out by shipping DVDs back and forth as an alternative to places like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster. It has since jumped to the front of the streaming content race. It is by far our favorite streaming service, with thousands of quality titles to choose from. Though you can’t follow current series on Netflix, I don’t mind waiting because I sometimes prefer to watch through a whole season in a few days.

[symple_tabgroup] [symple_tab title=”PROS”]
  • Tons of Quality HD Content
  • Deals with huge movie studios
  • Growing amount of quality content
  • Netflix is starting to release “Only on Netflix” series
  • Clean Interface, Easy to Use
  • Cheap, Steaming only for $7.99 a month
  • Access on several devices (mobile, computer, ps3 & more)
  • Constantly updated and improved
  • Can stream to 2 devices Simultaneously
  • Suggests things based on previously watch / rated shows
  • Profiles, each member of your family can have their own movie list and suggestions.
  • Accessible anywhere with an internet connection
[/symple_tab] [symple_tab title=”CONS”]
  • No control over what content is available
  • Not all major studios work with Netflix
  • Content takes a while to arrive on Netflix Instant
  • Cannot follow current series on Netflix
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Hulu Plus

Many people are familiar with the website Hulu.com. It allows you to stream ad-interupted TV Shows, and movies for free. Hulu is our primary source for staying up-to-date on our favorite TV shows.  Hulu Plus is a pay per month subscription that reduces the amount of commercials, and opens you up to content not available through the non-paying side of Hulu.com

[symple_tabgroup] [symple_tab title=”PROS”]
  • Tons of Quality HD TV Shows
  • Content from several major TV Networks (NBC, Fox, USA, ABC)
  • Day after access to many popular TV Shows
  • Huge back log of classic TV shows (X-Files, MacGyver)
  • Access on several devices (mobile, computer, ps3 & more)
  • Constantly updated and improved
  • Cheap only $7.99 a month (with limited advertising)
  • Can stream to several devices simultaneously
  • Clean beautiful interface
  • Accessible anywhere with an internet connection
[/symple_tab] [symple_tab title=”CONS”]
  • Premium Channels not covered (AMC, HBO, Showtime, etc)
  • Shows available on a show-to-show basis (some taking up to 7 days)
  • Certain shows only available on specific devices (laptop, ps3, etc)
  • Interface is beautiful, but takes a while to get used to.
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Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is for more than just the shipping of packages. The Amazon Prime service also gives you access to free streaming content through devices such as an iPhone, iPad and PS3 to name a few. Sometimes, Amazon Prime seems like a mirror image of the two previously mentioned streaming services, but, on occasion, you will find a TV show or movie that you’ve always wanted to see and haven’t been able to find. I now always check Amazon Prime for hidden gems.

[symple_tabgroup] [symple_tab title=”PROS”]
  • Added benefit to an Amazon Prime account
  • Adds a decent amount of HD content
  • Is good for discovering new shows other services miss
  • Allows streaming rental services on top of free choices
  • Has shows from Premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc)
  • Two Simultaneous streams
  • Cheapest service, $6.50 a month which also includes all the Amazon.com benefits
  • Accessible anywhere with an internet connection
[/symple_tab] [symple_tab title=”CONS”]
  • Has way less content than other two services
  • The interface (PS3) is a little confusing and difficult to navigate
  • Like Netflix, content takes awhile to arrive
  • No standalone streaming page like Netflix or Hulu streaming content available via product pages
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All three of these services are used in our household, and I would suggest them in your home as well. One thing I purposefully pointed out in the PROS section above is “simultaneous streams.” This can be useful in a few ways:

(1) This can allow you to stream Netflix movies / tv shows to multiple devices at the same time so you can watch one thing in the main room and your kids can watch another in the back room.

(2) If you, the parents, already have Netflix and only use it on one device you can share your account with your kids. This is especially useful if your child just moved out and is trying to save money. This also acts as built in accountability because Netflix comes with a “recently watched” section where all shows and movies that have recently been watched display.

(3) If you’re really generous you can even share your accounts with your friends. It is likely however that this violates some terms of service with the streaming services so do this at your own risk.

How to make the switch?
There are several table top devices you can purchase to turn your house into an all streaming house. I use the Playstation 3 because I play games and own blu-ray DVDs. However, there are several other options. Some options I have looked into are:

I’ve found the Playstation 3 gives me the most bang for my buck as it contains all three aforementioned services, and doubles as a blu-ray player. Do some research on your own (TOp10for.com, Cnet.com), compare the monthly price-tag, and determine whether you can do without instant gratification and do with a little more financial cushion month-to-month. When I compare the cost of these three streaming services ($21 a month, not including monthly internet costs) to cable services which can be anywhere from $65 – $200 a month in addition to monthly internet it’s no contest. If you really can’t wait to see that new show go to a friend’s house and watch it with them. That’s more fun anyway.

Have a blessed day,
Bryce

Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.
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Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.