Article by: Bryan Spiess
Cable TV sucks!!! Have you muttered those words before?
You pay tons of money every month and the cable companies can’t even bless you with halfway-OK customer service. Three of the top five companies with the worst customer service are cable or satellite providers. Oh, the things we’ll put up with to get our daily dose of entertainment. They get us hooked on a low introductory price, then jack it up to an astronomical rate. Then they have the nerve to stand behind their legal jargon and terms of service to justify their shady behavior. It’s too bad that we don’t have a choice.
Not so fast! The future of entertainment is streaming. My personal belief is that the price games are merely a ploy to stave off the inevitable demise of traditional TV and satellite companies. It is time to ride the wave of the quickly changing entertainment industry.
Let’s consider the cost of traditional cable. Forget the introductory price, because we all know that won’t last. After the TV company is done “introducing” themselves to you, prepare to be treated like every other dollar sign on their balance sheet. The average consumer pays $103 per month for TV. The lowest price I could find on any of the big TV providers’ websites was $35. Thinking about this in terms of averages, that means that there are people well on the other side of the spectrum paying much more.
Oftentimes, people pay well over $200 for a cable/Internet/phone bundle. But if you’re an avid sports fan and want one of their sports packages . . . CHA-CHING! How can you fight this obvious price gouging and still get your entertainment?
Streaming is the answer.
You can get all of your entertainment in a smarter way. Here are just a few of your options to stick it to the shady tactics:
Netflix: This is the classic go-to. What started off as a mail subscription service for movies has become a frontrunner in streaming services. It has also become a fixture in pop culture, especially as they have added binge-worthy exclusive content. Shows like Stranger Things and Master of None are just a few of the exclusive Netflix options. Also, due to a unique partnership, you can stream all Showtime shows on Netflix. For between $7.99 and $11.99 per month, you can have this service delivered to you via the Internet.
Hulu: This was a joint venture between Walt Disney Corporation, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast. These companies own a strong majority of the channels you’d have on TV, which is why Hulu has a more robust selection of shows that are found on broadcast television. Hulu also provides the current season of your favorite shows, where many other streaming services receive seasons years later. If you want to be in the know about the current shows, I suggest you pay the $7.99 to $11.99 to get Hulu.
HBO NOW: This one has a special spot in my heart. I LOVE HBO shows. I can binge on old shows like Entourage and Sopranos, or check out the newer selections like Westworld, Silicon Valley, Ballers, and Game of Thrones. In the last few years, HBO wanted to create a standalone streaming service for customers not attached to a premium cable plan . . . and HBO NOW was created. For $14.99 per month, you can join the conversation with me on many of my favorite shows.
Amazon Prime: Amazon Prime keeps getting more robust. The service includes shopping incentives, music options, video streaming, Alexa integration, books, magazines, computer games, and a ton more . . . all for $10.99 per month. If you do much online shopping, chances are you already have this service. Two-day free shipping was enough to sway me! Like Netflix, Amazon has picked up some exclusive programming as well. The Grand Tour is the one currently receiving the most buzz.
Sling: Have you ever been annoyed with the number of channels that you have to pay for with cable? Wow, we have 500 channels, but really only jump between 10 or so channels. But if we want another channel, chances are it comes in another package that includes 15 more channels we don’t watch. Sling feels your pain and has packages starting at $20-25 per month. Do you want to add the sports package? $5 extra per month. Do you really like Italian soap operas? Add another $10 per month. This service is very much à la carte and is still much cheaper than cable.
Roku: This one is geared toward sports fanatics. If you’re like me, you’ve probably said, “I would drop cable ASAP if I could somehow watch my favorite sports.” Roku is your answer, offering a huge selection of sports from all around the world. You can watch these events live or on-demand. Roku is actually a device that can connect your existing television to the internet, and for $89.99 you can organize all of your streaming services on one device using only one remote.
Apple TV: This is another device that hooks into your HDMI port on your TV, allowing you to get the smart TV capabilities on your existing TV. Newer iterations allow you to download apps to reduce the clutter on your TV to merely the streaming services that you use. Red Bull TV is my personal favorite to get my fix of extreme sports and lifestyle programming. The hardware is right around $150 and makes it easy to sign in to all of your streaming services. You can even use an iPhone or an iPad as your remote.
There are tons of options for “sticking it” to your television provider. Whether you have a Smart TV already or need to purchase new hardware, you can rebel against the traditional means of entertainment. Even if you chose two or three of these devices or services, you could get a much lower price than you might currently be paying. Given the customer service reputations of these TV providers, you might get an even better customer experience.