First there was broadcast TV, which consists of basic channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS. It’s considered “free TV” because all you need is an antenna to watch programming, since advertisers fund your viewing pleasure.
Then along came cable TV, which delivers television programming through a coaxial cable system to paying subscribers. Cable providers include Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and COX.
While cable TV provides a broader spectrum of programming than broadcast television, that extra programming comes at a cost. And that cost seems to be climbing higher and higher. According to a report by Leichtman Research Group, the average American household with cable pays $103 a month for the service. Imagine if you could turn that $103 monthly bill into a $12 or $20 monthly charge? Your savings account would thank you!
The good news is that cutting out the cost of cable is easier than ever before, thanks to a wide variety of video streaming services that allow you to watch your favorite programming at a fraction of the cost. From Netflix to Hulu, the variety of video streaming services is mind-boggling. And the competition seems to grow every day.
So what is a video streaming service? It’s basically an on-demand online entertainment source for TV shows, movies and other media. If you have a computer, smart phone, or tablet, or a smart TV or a streaming device like Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire, you can take advantage of video streaming. The services you decide to use will depend on what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to spend. But the bottom line is that video streaming services are starting to replace cable TV for a lot of Americans.
Netflix is a popular choice, with countless movies, television series, children’s programming, and documentaries to choose from. Netflix offers three different pricing tiers to suit your needs. Their “Basic” plan is $8.99 per month and allows you to stream video content on one device at a time in Standard Definition. If HD is more of your thing, you can try their $12.99 per month “Standard” plan, which allows High-Definition viewing, and streaming on up to 2 devices at the same time. And they also offer a “Premium” plan for $15.99 per month that allows you to stream on up to 4 devices at a time in HD and Ultra High-Definition (UHD) when available.
If you’re looking to get a lot of bang for your buck, you may want to look into Amazon Prime Video, which comes included with an Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a wide array of television series and movies, and your $119 per year Amazon Prime membership also grants you access to free two-day shipping on eligible purchases on Amazon.com (and in many cases, free one-day shipping), the ability to borrow free e-books via Prime Reading, commercial-free access to Amazon Music, and unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos.
Hulu is another option, which allows you to watch episodes from both current and past seasons of your favorite TV shows. They also offer access to movies, and Hulu-original programming. Access to the service costs only $5.99 month, and if you’d like to eliminate commercials you can do so by paying $6 more a month. And if you’ve been hanging onto cable because you just can’t part with HBO or Showtime, you can add those to your Hulu subscription as well! It costs $14.99 per month to add HBO to a Hulu plan and you can add Showtime for an additional $10.00 per month. Hulu even has a new live-TV package for $44.99 per month. “Hulu with Live TV” includes Hulu’s regular on-demand video streaming, but also allows you to stream live television channels to supported devices such as Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Fire TV, and Roku.
Slightly newer services that also offer live TV streaming include Sling TV, owned by Dish Network, and YouTube TV, a paid-subscription version of the popular website.
The traditional networks like CBS and ABC have jumped onto the streaming bandwagon, too. By visiting their websites, or downloading their apps, you can tap into shows that recently aired. And premium cable channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime are in on the game too. All of them offer stand-alone paid viewing packages that give you access to a broad selection of original programs, special shows, and movies.
So if you’ve been debating whether to stash away some significant money each month by ditching your high-cost cable provider, there’s not much to debate anymore. Streaming is the new way to save!