Comcast, RCN, Time Warner and Verizon all are out to rip your off. They think you aren’t savvy enough to take advantage of non-cable options. Presently, they are correct. Roughly one-third of Americans have digital cable, according to the National Cable and Television Association, and the number grows to about 58% when non digital cable customers are included. The remaining 42% is likely comprised mostly of people who cannot afford cable in any form. So America’s lack of savvy puts the market in the billions, and everything is about to change.
The disruptive technology that will end this party is common and inexpensive relative to its utility. As you probably guessed (I’m not that good at being coy) it’s the internet. Soon we will be able to pick which channels and shows we want to watch and when without having to pay for the other 1,000 channels we don’t. A la carte. This is already available, albeit to a lesser degree than it will be. What follows is a general overview of what’s possible, and how you can save yourself a bundle by not bundling your cable.
Drop Your Land-line
If you are like an ever increasing percentage of Americans you don’t have a land line anymore, and instead use your cell phone. Good for you, there is no point in paying for two non-business phone lines. Worried about radiation? What is this, the nineties?
It’s hard to say exactly what percentage of the cost of the phone-cable-internet bundles the above listed providers are hawking is due to the internet. All of them offer the internet as a standalone product, and there are many companies which specialize in the internet. In order for these savings to work you need a fast internet connection, because you are going to be streaming your entertainment. So it’s important to shop around for the best one in your area, this isn’t something to skimp on. 14 mps should do it, but faster is better when it comes to streaming. Remember, without a strong, solid connection the whole streaming thing is like watching really crappy stop motion animation.
YourOnline Streaming Options
Your streaming options range from Net Flix to Hulu, to Ireel to Youtube. I think it’s important to have a good mix of movies and television, both new and old to consider one as having a well rounded set of entertainment options. Netflix is great for the kinda new and old, while Hulu or an equivalent is great for new shows. You may not even need a service to access content, many shows are available for free on their own websites. For new movies you wouldn’t have to stream, you can just have them sent by Netflix, but you could stream them through services like Amazon Prime, Itunes, Vudu and many others. In HD.
Of course there will be some of you that complain that your favorite shows aren’t available. I would like to offer my least sincere apologies that this plan in not inclusive of such gems as Beauty and the Geek reruns.
Devices/Services for Online Streaming
Clearly you need a device by which to stream entertainment through to your T.V, at least for now. Here there are also several options. Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku, any video game system, and more. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, so do your research while keeping in mind your actual viewing habits. Some services have devices to compliment them; others will work via a “smart TV”, video game system, internet ready blue-ray, etc…
Streaming Vs. Cable: Costs
Below is a quick comparison of this plan to the Comcast Xfinity Triple Play HD Preferred EX package, you can add or subtract items as you see fit. I did not try to estimate the cost of the individual Xfinity components, but we all know what the components offer, so I tried to match those offerings as best I can with alternatives. I am listing the cost of these alternatives. I am assuming you already own a device which can stream (like an Xbox or Roku).
|Numbers are rounded to nearest dollar, all are per/month|
Comcast Xfinity Triple Play
|AT&T Elite used (5-12 Mps)|
|For new shows (NBC, ABC, Fox, etc…) + Movies|
|Assuming 4 movies are watched per month at standard rate of $2|
|Assumes streaming + basic DVD package|
As you can see, the cost difference is significant and amounts to nearly a grand a year—$888/year by this example. Note that this does not include set up costs for cable, the cost of extra boxes, and whatever else Comcast decides rape your wallet with. In addition to the savings you also gain flexibility: you are no longer slave to the schedule networks set. You watch what you want when you want.
Drawbacks of Streaming
Aside from the lack of HBO and Showtime, there are additional drawbacks to the streaming plan.
- Sports. You can stream sports, but doing so is not quite the same as watching via a major channel. Sports fanhood is a social endeavor however, so go to a friend’s house and watch the game. Or a bar. Or buy a digital antenna and watch it from home anyway.
- Cable offers single point of access for all content. Just click on the cable box and your off. With streaming as it currently stands, you may have to access the content through several sites pending what you want to watch. I personally don’t think this is a big deal, but you may.
- Lack of discovery. There may be a show you might just love buried somewhere in the ridiculous amount of channels your cable package provides, and streaming might not have it (although the show’s website may). But that show is probably garbage anyhow.
- You may not have inexpensive internet options in your area, which can make the savings of cutting cable rather less than exciting.
Obviously results will differ pending the available internet providers in your area, how much content you watch and need, etc. You may have qualms with my examples, so I encourage you to do your own research. I am confident that you will discover that this option is always less expensive and meets the vast majority of your entertainment needs. A La carte is the way of the future, like plastics.
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 According to the latest census there are roughly 300 million Americans, and according to the National Cable and Television Associations around 100 million of them have some form of cable or satellite T.V.