PlayStation Vue ($39.99/mo. - $74.99/mo.): Don’t let the name throw you. You don’t need to own a PlayStation to subscribe to Vue, which is accessible through most of the major set-top boxes. You do, however, need to pay a premium. As with Hulu and Sling, Vue’s ability to deliver live local broadcast is dependent on where you live, but Sony does offer a lot of local TV in a lot of different markets, and even where it doesn’t, it allows subscribers to see many of the major networks’ shows on-demand. Vue also provides some simple add-on options, a huge amount of DVR cloud storage, and a lot of portability between devices.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of alternatives to cable, but it’s a great mix-and-match way to get started. And you can usually get a free trial of almost any of these before you commit. If you’re not quite ready to give up your favorite sports or movie channels, you can always call your cable or satellite provider and try to negotiate a better deal. Knowing your options will usually work to your advantage!
The option that has become the standard at our house for watching TV, movies via Netflix and a variety of other sources is a software called PlayOn. PlayOn is basically a media streaming software that will pull the video streams from sites like Hulu.com, Youtube.com, network websites, MLB.TV, Netflix, Amazon Video and others and allow you to stream them over the home network, to a network media player attached to your TV.
We’re torn on this policy. On the one hand, you get a pretty good deal for the first year of service. But on the other hand, price hikes suck. Especially when your monthly price doubles for the second year. It’s a pretty big knock on DIRECTV. But as long as you’re aware of the jump up front, you can plan on it., and you still get a decent deal over the life of your contract.
All U-verse packages include one free HD DVR. That DVR is what will take your cheap cable TV experience to the next level, allowing you to record up to four programs at once and watch them from any TV in your home that has a U-verse receiver. What that means for you is no fighting over shows. Now you can record one while watching another. And you don’t have to worry about any hidden installation or activation fees because both are free for online orders.
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The second change is our budget. Our cable and internet package was roughly $90 per month, and this was about 7 or 8 years ago. Prices have since risen quite a bit in most markets. That was too expensive for what we got out of it (the base TV package, with no premium channels, was over $50 a month after the introductory price expired). We only rarely watched TV, and then it was usually limited to a few channels. We cut the cable TV service and elected to pay for faster internet service. We pay a lot for Internet service, but we are paying for a service we use.
The satellite brings the DBS (direct broadcast satellite) provider (Dish, DirectTV) the signals you need so that your access to shows, movies, and more is essentially limitless. If you’ve been looking for a reason to switch to satellite TV from cable, begin comparing TV broadband bundles right now. Regardless of where you live, you can have access to what the world watches, instantly.
Now here’s the golden nugget of it all: We live in a very hilly area of Southern California. Over-the-air reception is awful in most of our house -- especially where our TV sets are positioned. I’ve tried many of the latest, over-the-air antennae and they are all incapable of mastering our topography. Although we’re closer to San Diego, we mainly get Los Angeles stations -- when we get stations at all. But because I don’t need to plug the antenna directly into a TV by using Tablo -- remember, I plug it directly into the Tablo box, which by the way has its own internal amplifier that strengthens incoming signals -- I can move the antenna to anywhere I want. In my case, it’s at the back window of our home upstairs where it receives just about every LA station. Then Tablo transmits wirelessly to all of my devices. And unlike other over-the-air arrangements I’ve considered, I don’t need to buy a separate antenna for each TV. One will do for the house with Tablo.
Most cable companies will send a representative to your home to install the TV, phone, and internet equipment. Usually the service provider will set up an installation date shortly after you order the package. The setup should take no longer than an hour. After the setup, the representative will give you a brief overview of how to use the equipment, which is usually straightforward. If you have any technical problems after the representative leaves, call the support line for additional instructions.
Streaming live TV is an effective cable TV alternative, but it does have some drawbacks. While it doesn’t have contracts or equipment costs, it requires a strong internet connection. You’ll want to get an internet download speed of 50 Mbps or more to avoid buffering. But before you sign up, just make sure all this doesn’t end up costing more than a cable and internet bundle would.
A LATA (local access and transport area) is a term in the U.S. for a geographic area covered by one or more local telephone companies, which are legally referred to as local exchange carriers (LECs). A connection between two local exchanges within the same LATA is referred to as IntraLATA. A connection between two exchanges within different LATA is referred to as InterLATA. Nebraska currently has four Local Access Transport Areas.
Everyone has there vices. When we want to watch a game we usually invite a friend over that still has cable. Many of the apps like espn3 and NBC will stream the game if you have a subscription somewhere. I actually used it one year to watch a college football game from the UK over a work VPN while on business. That being said I find we watch a lot less now that we have kids.
If you’re still not sold on Amazon Prime Video, know that its value goes beyond the TV screen. With this cable alternative, you can listen to music from Pandora, iHeart Radio, and Prime Music. You can also enjoy hundreds of games from top developers and connect apps like Uber, Yelp, and even daily fitness guides. Not totally ready to commit? Amazon Prime Video offers a free 30-day trial to get you started.
XFINITY lets you bundle TV with home phone, internet, and home security services. Bundling TV with other services delivers better value and makes it easier to keep track of how much you spend each month on utilities. XFINITY has Double Play (TV and internet), Triple Play (TV, internet, home phone) and Quad Play (TV, internet, home phone, home security) bundles. Each bundle type offers at least two package options to choose from, so you can find the right fit for your household and budget.
Now that you're a "smart" viewer, you're probably staring at this new menu of choices on your home menu, like Netflix, Hulu, CBS All-Access and streaming varieties of HBO, Showtime and others. They would like you to spend anywhere from $6 to $15 monthly for their services. And with new services in the wings from Apple, Disney and Warner Media, you could imagine that monthly streaming bill rising even more, as we order more and more services.
If you don’t have or don’t like any of the options above, there are a few ways to turn your TV into a “Smart TV.” There are a number of ways to do this. In the next section, I’ll cover the subscription services available. Certain devices only work on certain equipment so I’ll cover a few of these combinations in the Streaming Devices section of the post.
Television has changed remarkably over the past few years. It might be time for your viewing habits to change as well. Unless you enjoy paying more than $100 a month for a cable or satellite subscription you only half use, you’re probably considering joining the growing ranks of consumers who have “cut the cord” and are now getting their favorite TV shows, movies and even live sports through the internet and streaming services. Making this change requires some preparation, though. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the cord-cutting process. And once you're set up, hop on over to The New York Times's site Watching for personalized TV and movie recommendations.