There is a new trend going around where people are ripping up their cable bills and handing in their boxes. This is known as “cord cutting”. They are going to an entirely digital direction to getting their video content to avoid paying over $100 per month on cable bills.
There are some devices that you can buy now, for less than the price of a month of cable, that you can use to stream movies and tv shows to your TV without needing cable.
Instead of paying a cable bill, you will just need to get a broadband internet connection. You can do this now with your cable provider or even through companies like AT&T or Verizon. Then after that, you will pay smaller fees for services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.
These devices generally just hook up to your internet connection then have a special digital interface that allows you to browse through different “channels” like Netflix or Hulu. There are some devices that you can buy to work with your TV, or you can now buy a “Smart TV” that has this software already in it.
Top Streaming Devices
- Roku – They just released the new Roku 3 model that is leagues better than the original (which was already one of the best). There are 4 models ranging in price from $49.99-$99.99. For more info on the Roku 3 click here.
- Video Game Systems – If you already own a PS3, Xbox 360 or a WiiU then you have some of the best functions already available. The new Xbox and Playstations coming out next year might be the best streaming devices yet though. Wait if you don’t have one yet.
- Apple TV – Apple is a little behind in the streaming TV world. Their product is similar to the Roku, but not as good. This is best for people who own iPads or iPhones because they can work with those devices already.
- Smart TV – Many of the new TVs coming out now have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming capabilities built into them. These are best when you want to keep your accessories low and your shelves empty of extra devices.
- Blu Ray Players – New DVD and Blu Ray players sometimes have these features built into them so you can stream from your DVD player. So far these aren’t the best, but if you need a new Blu Ray or DVD player, this could be a good idea for you.
STREAM MOVIES AND TV
These are the programs that you can use to get content sent to your TV. Some are free while others have a small monthly or annual fee. The benefits of all of these programs is that you can watch what you want, when you want (given the movies are in the catalog).
- Netflix – This is the best streaming service available right now. Everybody is trying to beat them, but they were the first and the most innovative streaming service right now. Netflix is even introducing original programming available only on their service. House of Cards is one of the best shows on TV that you can’t watch on TV. A new season of Arrested Development is coming soon as well. The subscription fee is $7.99 a month and you can get a free month trial by clicking here.
- Hulu Plus – You can watch Hulu for free on your computer, but if you want to stream it, there is a fee of $7.99 a month. Hulu Plus has some movies, but not as many as Netflix does. The benefits to having Hulu is that you can watch lots of TV shows the day after they air and all episodes of current seasons for many shows. Start Your Hulu Plus Free Trial Now!
- Amazon Instant – This service has plenty of movies, but the worst interface right now. Once they clean up the program and make it easier to browse for movies, it will be much better. Amazon Prime originally was just a service that gave free shipping to Amazon customers, but now the $79.95 annual fee also gets you free access to lots of their movies/TV shows, free books for your Kindle and free two day shipping. If you have Amazon Instant on your streaming device, you also have the option of “renting” or buying movies that aren’t in the free catalog. Some of these are new releases.
- Redbox Instant – Redbox recently got into the streaming business. This only works on Apple and Android phones/tablets, Xbox 360 and Samsung Smart TVs & DVD Players. The cost is $8 per month and you also get 4 DVD credits every month to use at your neighborhood Redbox location.
- Blockbuster – Blockbuster is trying really hard to stay alive after Netflix destroyed their business with DVDs by mail first and then streaming movies later. They do not have a monthly service for unlimited streaming, but rather a pay per view option. They have a huge catalog of movies and plenty of new releases. This is worth having on your system to find new releases that you cannot get from Amazon Instant.
- Vudu – This is another one of the pay as you go plans. No subscription fees, but you pay per movie that you watch. It costs $2 to rent a movie for 2 nights. They boast having the largest catalog of movies online.
- Crackle – Add this to your collection because it is…FREE movie and TV streaming. Crackle is a Sony owned streaming service that gets you a decent amount of the Sony movie/TV catalog for free streaming. The catch, you have to watch some awkwardly placed commercials.
Stream Live Sports
A big reason that a lot of people refuse to cancel their cable is because they will be missing out on live sports. I don’t think cord cutting is going to be huge until ESPN and the NFL decide to go online, but that isn’t going to be anytime soon. Some sports are available with streaming subscriptions though.
- MLB.TV – This service lets you watch live MLB games on your computer, smart phone or TV. It costs $129.99 for the year or $24.99 monthly.
- NHL Gamecenter Live – This is getting on more devices now, and it lets you watch hockey games on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. This service costs $49.99 annually or $24.99 semi-annually
- WatchESPN – I said ESPN won’t go streaming, but that is only a half lie. They have some events available to watch online for free on ESPN3, but have streaming available on a few devices for a fee. Right now you can get WatchESPN streaming on you Apple/Android products, Kindle Fire and Xbox 360. Some live events are available as well as SportsCenter. WatchESPN.com is available at no additional cost to fans with subscriptions to participating high speed internet service providers. Click HERE to view a complete list of participating providers.
Cons – What you can’t get (Yet at least)
The pay TV companies have a stronghold on you if you want some of the best programming available. You won’t be able to get premium cable channels or their shows. That means no HBO with Game of Thrones, Girls and Boardwalk Empire. No Showtime with Homeland and Shameless.
As for sports, you can get subscriptions to some of your sports like MLB, MLS, MMA and NHL. You won’t be able to get NFL streaming or most major events like playoffs and championship games. But, you can always go to a bar or a friends to watch these games. They are more fun with a group anyway.