We have become a culture of instant gratification. We want everything available to us all of the time, wherever we are, and whenever we want it. No service capitalizes more on this than cable TV and satellite providers. You can watch programming on any TV, computer, tablet or smartphone. One zillion network channels and, if you have an internet streaming device like Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire or Google Chromecast, you have two zillion choices but probably still can’t find anything to watch.
A few months ago, I tried a little experiment to save some money on my $160 cable bill. The Experiment: Trade in my cable TV/phone/internet package for just an internet connection. The thought was I could stream almost every channel I watch on my Apple TV (or Roku or Chromecast). I could also subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to fill in the gaps. As for the home phone? No one calls that line except telemarketers and plus you can’t take selfies on your home phone–duh!
My experiment started out well enough. I was able to watch some free content but soon realized I was overloaded with commercials I couldn’t skip through. I then tried the popular cable channel apps like CNN, Discovery, FX and NatGeo along with network TV apps like ABC, FOX, NBC and CBS. What I found shocked me; most of the newer content is locked unless you pay a monthly fee for each app or have a cable TV subscription you can log in with, which defeated the purpose. A monthly subscription to each of these apps ranges from $3.95 to $9.95 per month. Throw in HBO (“Game of Thrones”) and Showtime (“Homeland”) for $14.99 and $10.99 per month, respectively. Add Netflix (“House of Cards”) for another $11.95 and I was already up to $110 a month plus the internet service at $39.95 which brought me up to about $150 per month—for one TV, no multi-room DVR, no TV guide, no home phone and with some services (like Hulu) I still had to watch commercials. In the end, I was actually spending about the same but losing lots of the comforts I had grown accustomed to.
The Conclusion: If you’re looking to save some money by cutting the cable cord, you may end up having to cut back on some of the content you actually enjoy and lots of the conveniences.
This is not to say that streaming services don’t have value. In fact, I love my Apple TV and the other streaming devices, but at least for now, they work best if you have a cable TV package. I do foresee a day when streaming media will be the primary source of home entertainment. A new TV service from YouTube called YouTube TV (clever name) shows some promise and streaming services are always negotiating contracts with the networks to enable more streaming, less commercials and more free content.
All things considered, the absolute best way to save some money is to watch your heart rate on your fitness tracker—drop the remote, get out there and move!
Next time: Put an end to those annoying robocalls on your home and mobile phones!
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Rich Suweidan, a.k.a. Webwizard, is a webmaster for the City of New York. He is also the chief principal and webmaster of Webwizard Solutions LLC designing websites and web-based solutions for almost 20 years. Visit webwizardsolutions.net for all of your website needs.