Thinking about getting rid of cable tv?
Switching from traditional cable tv to streaming television did take a small amount of time to adjust to. Here’s what to expect.
PROS TO STREAMING:
- There’s always something “on,” because you are choosing what to stream at any moment.
- There were a lot more on-demand options with streaming than we ever experienced with cable.
- Ability to build your own programming content through a variety of subscriptions.
CONS TO STREAMING:
- DVR options with streaming live tv aren’t as robust.
- You also can’t skip or fast forward through a lot of commercials unless you’re on “ad free” subscription plans, which cost more.
- If you watch a lot of tv you may need to subscribe to a few services to feel satisfied with the amount of content you can stream at any moment. So far, we have not found a one-stop sort of app that gives us everything we want, so we have a few.
Remember, getting rid of cable television doesn’t mean you won’t have a cable bill.
You still need an internet connection in order to stream tv, which means a cable company to provide the internet.
Streaming takes data, so be sure to watch closely over the first month to see how much data you are using and if you need to adjust your internet plan. Some cable providers allow you to adjust your data plan at any time BEFORE you go over your data threshold for the month.
Will I save tons of money?
That depends on how much content (streaming subscriptions) you want. If you have one basic streaming subscription, you will likely be saving some money. However, most people get several subscriptions as a way to build their own programming – so that something is always “on” vs. flipping through cable channels hoping for something good to watch. In our experience, having 3-4 basic streaming subscriptions and internet was about 10% to 15% less than our traditional cable tv and internet bundle.
What are the most notable “adjustments” to expect between traditional cable and streaming?
What I missed most at first was the plug-and-play of leaving cable tv on a channel in the background as I go about my day. I even missed commercials, if you can believe that. A Sling TV blue subscription remedied this with live tv streaming from the handful of cable channels we missed. (More details on streaming subscriptions later in this article.)
Every streaming service or device has their own way of doing things.
Whether it’s the type of device you are using to stream (a Smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.*) or the apps you are using on that device (Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, etc.**) – they all have their own apps that navigate in their own way. With cable, it’s one guide and one hub where you look for something to watch – but streaming will be one main hub (*your streaming device) with various guides from as many apps (**your subscription services) as you want to use.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
What do I need to stream tv and movies?
You’ll need a streaming enabled device. If you have a “Smart TV,” you’re all set. If your tv is not a smart tv, there are streaming devices that you plug into the tv to enable it to stream: Fire TV Stick by Amazon, Roku, and the original Apple TV device to name a few. We have tried all of the above and prefer the Fire Stick by Amazon. It’s easy to navigate, had less bugs, great definition, and a nice intuitive interface. The other devices performed fine too, but the Fire TV felt more user friendly. Once you have a streaming device attached to your tv, you download apps (some of which require subscriptions) to it to watch tv and movies.
Can I have cable tv AND streaming?
What subscription apps are the best?
For movies and series: You can’t beat Netflix. It’s like having your own Blockbuster Video store on your tv.
Disney+ is also great for movies and original series.
For the feeling of cable television, with live TV: We enjoy Sling TV for accessing cable channels live like Bravo, cable news channels, Comedy Central, TBS, etc. Sling TV was a reasonable price, and their lowest plan “blue” gave us the ability to have all the channels we enjoyed from cable. The subscription also includes a simple DVR type feature to record shows. Hulu and YouTube TV also have live tv subscriptions at higher price points than their basic subscriptions.
Are there free things to watch?
Amazon Prime has a lot of shows and movies for free with your Prime subscription. If you have a Fire TV Stick (made by Amazon) or their app, you can access them all very easily.
IMDB has a free app with a lot of free movies and shows on it.
The original YouTube app is also free, it’s the same YouTube where everyone looks up tutorials or reviews, just on your tv screen instead of your computer or phone. Many popular talk shows have their own channels and upload episodes to YouTube the day after they air on live tv. It’s also a great place to find music videos, or ambiance music to play in the background.
Pluto TV gives the feeling of cable tv with a guide and “live” channels. It’s free, so there will be a lot of shows you may have never heard of before – but we did find ones to enjoy and explore. Navigation is made easy with their selection of themed channels. Think: Comedy, Romance, Holiday, Reality, etc.
CHECK WITH YOUR CELL PHONE PROVIDER: There are several carriers offering yearly freebie subscriptions (Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+) with certain cell phone plans, for new customers, or when buying new phones, etc. Be sure to check with your cell provider for any promotions you might not know you have access to.
How can I get local channels?
You can get local channels with a modern over-the-air digital antenna. Antennas now days are not like the bunny ears or roof-mounted ones of yore, but thin plastic rectangles you secure in a window to pick up over-the-air programming. It’s probably best to first research online if you live in an area that has decent over-the-air broadcasting coverage.
In a nutshell, life without cable tv is different – but with all the content available for streaming these days, it’s not necessarily a sacrifice.