It’s been a long love affair, but what has cable done for you lately? Almost everything cable gives you is obtainable via the Web. No need for an uncomfortable breakup, however. You can kick the loser cable TV bill to the curb without too much fuss by looking into some smart alternatives.
Most people only watch a handful of programs on certain stations and never even pause on many of the channels they pay for through cable every month. You probably spend more than $1,000 every year for access to stations you won’t ever watch. Advances in internet streaming technology are beginning to make the idea of paying for cable obsolete. You can enjoy most of your favorite shows on your own schedule for a fraction of the cost of a typical cable subscription.
Free Streaming Services
It’s amazing how many programs are available for free through legal sources online. Big networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, and MTV all provide links to recent episodes through their websites. Hulu’s free version provides access to shows from several networks like FOX and PBS. TV.com, Veoh, and fancast are other sites that compile programming from several different networks and stream the shows for free. These online streams will include some advertising, but the ads are shorter and less frequent than you would get with a regular television broadcast through cable.
Inexpensive Online Memberships
If you’re willing to spend about $8 per month, you can receive a wider range of movies and television shows from sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus. These sites have agreements with production companies that allow them to stream entire catalogs of television shows to their subscribers. For example, if you missed part of the third season of The X-Files, you can go back and fill in the gaps on either of these services. Netflix offers television and movies without any commercial interruptions, which makes it that much easier to revisit old friends or catch up on new favorites. Hulu Plus allows you to watch entire seasons of current television shows as well as next-day viewings of a wide range of programs.
One of the main reasons many people stay with cable is to keep up with sports programming. You can watch live streams of almost any game through subscriptions or on ESPN3. Major League Baseball offers a subscription service that allows you to watch any regular season game live or replay any game that you might have missed during the season. ESPN3 has one of the most extensive playlists of live sports, including a wide variety of college football games. Most NFL football can be watched through free local stations or through special subscriptions with certain mobile phone providers.
Digital or DVD Rentals
If the movie or tv show you want to watch isn’t offered through a streaming service, you can always spend a little bit of money to rent it through a kiosk or through a paid online service. Apple gives you access to hundreds of popular programs, including shows from HBO, for a low download price. Even if you pay to download every episode from a season of television shows, you will still pay less than you would have paid for a cable subscription. The best part is that you are only paying for the shows you want to see.
Jessica Bosari offers saving tips and advice at the personal finance blog. Visit the site for more ideas on ways to cut costs and save money.