So you want to cut cable, but what next? This was the predicament I was in over the summer. I decided I was not going to continue paying $100 a month to watch TV, which really meant spending time flipping channels, at the mercy of what was on.
This lead me on a hunt for inexpensive alternatives to cable TV. I had heard about Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, but I didn’t exactly know what you got for your money. Less than $8 a month is inexpensive, but is it too good to be true?
A Comparison of TV Streaming Services:
1. Netflix: The $7.99 online unlimited streaming service brings thousands of titles for you to watch. When I signed up for the free trial I was naive enough to think I’d have just about every movie ever made available to me. Not. But after getting accustomed to the selection I found endless documentaries, kids movies galore and some pretty great TV shows that I couldn’t get on cable like Doc Martin and House of Cards.
Back to the kid’s selection. Whatever kids watch goes into a recently viewed list that parents can easily view. There is no way to sneak Porky’s like I could when I was a kid with HBO.
Next pro, you can create a list for yourself so instead of flipping around all the time, go to your list and select. Another convenience, Netflix also gives suggestions based on other things you’ve watched.
This is the service I chose because it’s truly unlimited, always has something interesting or relevant to choose from and is really inexpensive. Below is an affiliate link should you decide to take the plunge and try out a free week of Netflix.
2. Hulu: Hulu is also $7.99 a month but you have to sit through commercials. One of the reasons I walked away from cable was because I was sick of commercials. I signed up for the free trial, but felt their selection was very heavy handed on pop culture TV shows like Kourtney & Kim take Miami kind of programming. Here’s a warning if you do sign up for the trial and want to cancel. You must cancel at least 24 hours before your free trial is to expire or you will get charged for the next month.
3. Amazon Prime: Amazon Prime costs $78/year, which works out to less than Hulu & Netflix per month, but you have to pay the entire amount up front if you decide to stick with it.
I will say Amazon Prime is so much more than a TV streaming service. Amazon Prime offers multiple shipping benefits, including FREE Two-Day Shipping for eligible purchases. Members also get access to Amazon Instant Video and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. That’s pretty cool. But if you’re looking at it just from a streaming service comparison, it is not the best because it’s not unlimited streaming. Almost anything you’d really want to watch costs about $1.99. I hate feeling nickled and dimed. So, as a Reduction Rebel, Amazon Prime was not for me.
Comparing Video Streaming Boxes
For some reason it wasn’t obvious to me that I would need a streaming box to go along with my streaming service. Now, if you have a Smart TV (aff link), you don’t need a streaming box, but regular flat screen TVs, you do. So this sent me on another hunt to compare streaming boxes. I’m sure there are a ton of options, but I’m only going to go through the top streaming boxes. Keep in mind this is a one time purchase.
1. Apple TV: We purchased the Apple TV streaming box based on a friend recommendation. It was about $100. It’s simple to set up and use.
2. Roku Streaming Box: I have also heard great things about the Roku Streaming Player (aff link), which are typically a little cheaper than the Apple boxes. They do advertise that you can get loads of channels. Some of the reviews that I read specified that the channels are not free, so just be aware of that.
The Benefits of Cutting Cable
When I told my brother we no longer had TV, just Netflix he said, “that’s too Robinson Caruso for me.” But, I have to say, I save about $45 a month. It’s not just about the cost. I’m less distracted watching TV that I’m not interested in seeing. There are no football games on Netflix so that is time we’re not wasting. Or, if there is a big game we want to watch, we go to a friend’s house and make it a social event.
We’ve cut back on using the library, but it’s still there for movies and shows that we cannot get on Netflix.