Video Streaming Service: A Cost-effective Alternative to Cable?
By Jeff from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Fashionably Broke Blog Series
Everybody needs their shows. Admit it. How often have your heard someone “grew up” with TheCosby Show or Full House? Sadly, I can assure you, you may know the name of every character on Cheers, but they will never know yours. We used to just have the neighbors to gab about, but now cable has become necessary to keep up with the latest about all those other families we’ve come to know and love. Just look at the living room. Where did the couch face before television? I’m not sure, but any other living room configuration would corrupt the feng shui... that I am sure of.
How much are you willing to pay?
You may have been willing to pay $14.99 for the “Digital Economy” package from Comcast, but how about $39.95 once you’ve gotten to know each other for 6 months? Yes, there are other packages that combine phone and internet… at $79.85/month for the first year.
To warn you, it’ll take some investigative work to find out what you’ll be paying after that year is up. Goodness, after trying to figure out what price they’re trying to hide, I just start to feel… taken advantage of. I guess they’re used to the days when there weren’t other options. But that was then, and this is now.
What if I told you the days of this evil reign are over? What if I said you could ditch the cable and watch all your shows on demand instead? Believe it folks, but do hang onto that internet, you’ll need it unless you plan on watching your “stories” at Starbucks.
Video streaming services
How would you like to pay 7.99/month for unlimited view enjoyment, indefinitely? Video streaming services are here to help. It may be an adjustment, but many of you probably have the equipment already to make the change. If you have a current video game console, Blu-ray player, or HDTV, chances are you can view your shows on your television or computer. Try to keep an open mind:
Netflix - $7.99/month
Right off the bat, you should realize you’ll only have video streaming available for this price - no DVD’s in the mail unless you’re willing to shell out more change. This is the name people think of most when they think video streaming, and it makes sense; Netflix is the company that proved this was a viable option. And, if you want mobility, you've come to the right place: Streaming is available on the same devices as the next two options – computer, blu-ray players, HDTV’s, and gaming consoles - but additionally on your Android smartphone or Apple iwhatever!
Hulu Plus – $7.99/month
The service that was free, and partly still is. For the same price as Netfix you can get, well, something similar.
Amazon Prime - $79/year*
You may have noticed the difference in price here. It is about a buck cheaper per month, but it’s also an annual fee instead of the monthly commitment. If you can set aside your fear of commitment, this could easily be the best deal of the bunch. Not only is there access to the Prime video streaming library, but you will also receive free 2-day shipping on orders fulfilled by Amazon (not meaning an independent seller on the Amazon site), and a free eBook to borrow each month via Kindle.
Also, you should know that the same application that gives you access to the Prime video service will give you access to Amazon’s regular instant video service. This means that if you can’t find anything you like on Prime, you can probably find it on Amazon and watch it for a rental fee. Some people may never do this, but I’m just letting you know.
*Discounted Student Rate – If you have the poor misfortune of being a college student, you have the good fortune of getting six months free and paying half the usual rate for a Prime membership: $49.
Cost vs. content
So there you have it… or do you? Sure the Amazon Prime service is a better deal in the long term – especially for a college student – but is it a better deal if a different service has more of what you want to watch? I can assure you that each service has thousands of options, but that may not be enough for everyone. Are there any shows that you have to watch? Are there shows you can’t wait to see? Some will have episodes sooner than others, and some will never have them at all. See what services have what you care about and which ones are lacking before you make your decision.
Can I Stream.It can help. It’s a website that will search any movie or TV show you enter and find which of the popular streaming services have it. You can also save your search and have an alert sent to you when it becomes available. Nice, right?
So, if you’re looking to save a couple bucks, or a lot of them, switching out the cable for online streaming isn’t the worst idea. It sure beats a Pet Rock, anyway.