NOTE: I am in no way condoning piracy or the theft of intellectual property. This article simply provides a “how-to” to cutting the cord and consuming the content you want to watch on your own time.
Every year, more and more people are cutting the cord when it comes to cable television and their consumption of video content. The main reason is the cost-benefit ratio. For the amount of money that an individual or family spends on entertainment, specifically cable television, the benefit doesn’t scale. A typical package runs around $50 per month and much more if you take a triple-play package which provides cable television, telephone and Internet service. I have personally seen a triple-play package from a well known cable company that included all channels, telephone service and the highest Internet service they had available for $170 or so per month. But how many of those 200+ channels do you actually watch? If you’re like most people, the number is between 5 and 10 channels of that 200+ channel cable package. And you can’t cut cost by getting rid of the channels you don’t want to watch.
Or can you?
No, I’m not talking about a-la-carte pricing, which in this pundit’s opinion will NEVER
happen. I’m talking about cutting the cord! Don’t subscribe to a cable package that has anything more, at the most, than the basic channels. You don’t even need to do that unless there is a local origination channel you like, etc. Otherwise, don’t get any cable channels. All you need is an Internet connection, preferably one that is at LEAST 8Mbit down.
Have Internet, Get Entertained
How can you watch your favorite television shows using your Internet connection? It’s pretty easy, actually. With devices such as the Roku, the Apple TV, the Boxee Box, and Google TV, you have many options to catch the latest Walking Down episode or NCIS, whatever you fancy. You will have to spend a small amount of money to do so, but when you factor in what you are paying to watch JUST the shows you want and not a cable bill that runs you around $1200 per year, you’ll definitely see the advantage.
On the Apple TV, you can purchase individual shows or entire seasons called a Season Pass. For example, if you love Homeland, Season 1 is $2.99 per episode for the High Definition (HD) format which will cost $38.87 if purchased by the individual episode. Buying the entire season at once provides a discount, down to $31.99 for the 13 episodes ($2.46 per episode). Standard Definition format is cheaper at $1.99 per episode or $21.99 for the entire season. The beauty of this approach is you own those episodes, so you can go back and watch them as many times as you wish. And, if you find that you only actively follow 5 shows per year, even at $32 per season, that’s a total $160 for “television” plus your Internet costs. A typical 8Mbit to 15Mbit Internet connection by itself is around $45, so that totals $700 for your year’s worth of entertainment – a potential savings of $500 per year. Plus, no commercials.
Hulu Plus is a subscription service that is now available on the Apple TV and has been available on the Roku for some time (it’s also available on other devices such as the XBox 360, the iPad, etc.). It allows you to see the episodes of your favorite television shows the day after they have played on the major networks – all for $7.99 per month and very limited commercial interruptions. Plus, you have access to the full current season of a show and several back seasons. With Hulu, the free version, you can only watch the shows on your computer and you are limited to generally the last 5 episodes of a show – no back seasons – and it has more commercial interruptions.
Netflix is another subscription service that costs $7.99 per month. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have current seasons of the popular shows or movies, but is a great resource if you are trying to get caught up on a show for the first time. As with Hulu Plus, it is available on the Apple TV, the Roku, the XBox 360 and many other devices. Netflix started as a DVD subscription service but primarily offers online streaming now, though they still have the DVD subscription service for an additional fee. Netflix has also started producing their own content, something the other services aren’t quite doing yet.
Amazon VOD is available on the Roku and XBox 360, but not the Apple TV. It seems to reason that Apple doesn’t allow Amazon’s VOD offering on their platform as it directly competes with Apple’s own offering. I do find it odd, however, that the Apple TV supports Hulu Plus and Netflix, which could be argued also compete directly with Apple’s own services. Whatever the reasons, Amazon VOD isn’t on the Apple TV, which is truly a shame as that would make the Apple TV the one streaming device to rule them all. Amazon’s VOD service allows you to rent television shows and movies and stream them to your supported device. Just like the Apple TV, you can also purchase entire seasons of television shows or movies and they are yours to own and watch as many times as you wish.