Watching your favorite shows on your TV at home is so 2010. Thankfully, cable providers are slowly but surely allowing us to untether from our sofas and take our TV-watching on the go with a few handy apps for iOS and Android devices. Check out the streaming TV landscape in this guide, where all the apps are free with a paid subscription to your cable provider!
Currently on trial in Charleston, SC, as well as parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, the MyTV Choice starts with a base package called Get Started, which is $25 for 50 channels or Get Started Plus for $45 and includes ESPN. If desired, four optional channel theme packages are available to add-on for an additional $10 a month. The theme packs are offered as kids, news and information, entertainment and lifestyle, and movies.
Hopefully this is the start of cable network freedom.
With consumers using online alternatives to watch favorite TV shows beyond the high prices and restrictions of cable companies, the cable giants are beginning to feel the loss, and may finally be ready to give customers what they've long been begging for — à la carte channel subscription options.
In the past, the cable industry argued that bundled programming provides the best value to customers. But with higher costs from networks and the popularity of web viewing, cable companies are working on allowing customers to subscribe to individual channels. According to Reuters, "Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, the two largest operators have lost 1.2 million video customers in the 12 months to June 30." Sports channels like ESPN are the most expensive options, and the option to pick and choose channels is a way for customers to avoid a pricey all-in-one monthly plan. The à la carte programing system may be a way for providers to entice those who dropped cable from their list of monthly bills to return as happy subscribers.
It's still unclear exactly how possible à la carte cable subscription plans will work. Basic cable plus the option to add specific channels or tiered channel subscriptions? Whatever the options may be, cable may again rise as the top option for home entertainment.
Nearly 200,000 Americans canceled their cable or satellite subscription this quarter. This loss comes as no surprise (since cable and satellite subscriptions have been heading downward all year), and while some folks are cutting back on monthly bills due to the down economy, some are moving to online streaming options.
If you're toying with the idea of canceling your outrageously priced cable subscription, check out these online streaming options that are just a mouse click away.
- Netflix — With access via gaming consoles, TVs, iPhones, and Android smartphones in addition to computers, the popular classic doesn't look to be going anywhere despite the competition and controversial new pricing structure.
- Hulu Plus — The $8 monthly subscription fee for Hulu Plus allows access to the most current episodes of TV shows and has an even larger catalog of movies available than its free Hulu counterpart. Available via iOS, Android, select gaming consoles, Samsung TVs, and computer systems.
- Blockbuster Total Access — Pricing models give customers the option to rent DVDs for home delivery with a subscription plan for $10 or $15, choose to rent DVDs without subscriptions, or stream films online on demand.
For those who love the freedom of choice, check out more streaming options after the break.
Fox announced yesterday that it would be restricting its content on Hulu, forcing viewers to wait a whole eight days to see the latest episode of their favorite shows, rather than getting the goods next day. Although at first it may seem like the content buffet is over, there's no reason to freak out and get cable if you've already cancelled your subscription in favor of online streaming options — you can still watch Fox shows next day if you're a Hulu Plus subscriber.
Though the implications of the Fox restriction could spell bad news for streaming services everywhere in the future, especially if other networks jump on the bandwagon, I'm sticking it out. $8 a month for Hulu Plus, and $10 a month for Netflix and the occasional purchase on Amazon or iTunes usually does the trick for mild to moderate TV watchers, even if you do have to watch shows a day later than all your friends.
In the spirit of Spring cleaning, a New York Times writer encouraged technological downsizing by outlining some items that could be worth getting rid of and others worth keeping. Multi-use gadgets not only take up less space, they also can end up saving you money!
I agree with some of his get-rid-of-it suggestions (GPS units, for example); others I'm not so sure. What do you think? Click through the slideshow to vote for or against keeping these tech items in your life.
The nation's largest broadband provider experienced a notable Internet outage this past weekend, leaving some unlucky East Coast subscribers without Internet access for hours. The issue was resolved (most people just had to reset their modems after the company figured it out), but we all know how frustrating connectivity issues can be, especially when you're scouting out Cyber Monday deals .
Our mad-for-connection culture is completely reliant on working signals, which means outrages can wreak utter havoc on our lives. My neighborhood's cable is especially temperamental, which means I have to restart my DVR almost monthly (and often lose recordings or settings). Thankfully, I rarely have Internet issues save enormous storm days when the power is out completely. Which connection conundrum do you suffer from most?
Yesterday, my amazing roommate sent me an amazing email: "I just cut our cable bill to $101.50 a month." While that may still seem steep, consider we're two tech-loving girls in a house full of TVs, DVRs, computers, and high-speed wireless routers that we use all the time. I know we're not alone, but I'm amazed that she was able to talk our bill down by nearly $100. I thought there were set fees for some services, but apparently even the cable companies cut valued customers a break.
Since most of you pay for bundled service, have you ever tried to negotiate a better rate with success? Share your story below!
There's no greater time than the beginning of the year to check in with your in-home entertainment memberships and make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck and relishing the packages you have signed up for. The upkeep will not only help you maintain your resolve to live below your means, but it will allow you take stock of whether or not your services or habits are sustainable. Check in with the following before the end of the month in an effort to get organized.
- Video Store vs. Netflix: Ask yourself if you are an infrequent movie renter and would rather spend the $5 Netflix fee (for one rental per month) for the convenience, or have the option of popping into the quaint rental shop on the way home. If you are a real movie nut explore the Netflix three-at-a-time plan (unlimited rentals per month and unlimited movies downloaded to your PC), which is $17. If you research the right plan you can save on gas and time, and kill late fees. Similarly, if you don't watch the movies that show up in the little red envelope opt to put your Netflix account on hold for three months at no cost until you want it again. Remember the cost looks small, but even the $5-per-month plan adds up to $60 a year (the $17 plan is $204 for a year!). You can always rent DVDs for free — or a tiny fee — at your local library.
- Cable and Satellite TV: Do you get your money out of your HBO, Showtime, and an expanded sports package? If so, more power to you. If not, ditch them or call your service provider and let them know you are spending too much each month and would like a better plan for your lifestyle. Your provider wants to keep you as a customer so they will work with you, even if it's just cutting a couple of dollars.
- DVR Service and TiVo: Is your TV provider charging you extra for a DVR service you aren't using? Are you paying $13 monthly for TiVo when your cable provider offers a less expensive DVR service? Call them up and check. If you only record a couple shows a month cruise websites like Hulu or network websites to see if the shows stream online or if you can purchase the shows from iTunes for less than the DVR price. Single episode downloads from iTunes are generally $1.99 each.
There was a time when cable was one bill I didn't pay because I simply chose to go without it. I was living in an apartment that didn't have a comfy living room, and I wasn't home very much, so it seemed silly to pay for something that would go unused. My living arrangements have since changed, and my couch is so comfortable that it really does call my name at the end of a long day. And cable? Well, let's just say I'm hardly stranger to LC and Audrina, Serena and Blair, Tom and Padma, Heidi and Tim, or Vinnie and E.
Cable is hardly cheap, especially if you're paying for Internet on top of your cable bill, and there's no sign of these bills going down anytime soon. In fact, it seems the opposite is happening. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that cable prices have gone up 77 percent since 1996, and The New York Times points out that cable customers pay an average $60 bill and watch only a fraction of the channels they pay for.
The Times article wonders why more people aren't just watching their favorite shows for free online, and while it certainly seems like a feasible alternative, I enjoy the ability to watch my favorite shows with a group of friends. Are we wasting our money on cable when we have Internet at our fingertips, or is it a justified expense?