When people are looking for ways to save money, one of the first suggestions they usually come across is to “cut cable.” The cost of traditional cable or satellite television continues to rise. Eliminating this monthly bill can have a considerable impact on your finances. However, you will probably still want to enjoy watching some of your favorite entertaining programs. Fortunately, there are many options available to help you save money while still being able to watch television.
Netflix was one of the first online streaming media companies. It was originally started as a DVD-by-mail business. You can still receive DVD’s from them in the mail. However, the main draw of Netflix is the unlimited, instant streaming of a large variety of shows and movies for a monthly subscription fee (currently, $7.99, $9.99, or $11.99 depending on the plan). You can watch Netflix on your computer or smartphone. Also, there are many different devices that can be used to access Netflix on your television, including gaming systems like Xbox and PlayStation.
Netflix has been producing more and more original content, including movies and television shows. Some popular series that you can only watch on this platform include House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Stranger Things. The Ridiculous 6, a comedy starring Adam Sandler, is also only available on Netflix.
Hulu launched in 2008 and has been one of the main competitors of Netflix. They have a long-standing relationship with Disney, which gives subscribers special access to shows and movies that you can’t find on other streaming platforms. Like Netflix, they also release their own, original productions.
Hulu tends to have more television shows than movies. It is not compatible with as many devices for streaming to your television. Hulu’s basic plan ($5.99) is cheaper than Netflix, but subjects you to some commercials. If you upgrade, for an increased monthly fee ($11.99), you can access commercial-free viewing.
3. Apple TV
Apple TV is a digital media player. It attaches to your television to provide internet streaming entertainment, comes with a remote control, and works with Siri to react to voice commands. There is no monthly fee to use Apple TV. One special feature of this device is that it can be used to access everything in your iTunes account. Purchased television shows can be watched over and over again, on multiple devices. You can also access free entertainment through various apps. Finally, Apple TV can be used to stream entertainment from other providers, like Netflix and Hulu.
There are millions of videos to watch on YouTube; literally, something for everyone. These videos are always available for free on smartphones or your computer. Or, you can purchase a streaming device to send the videos to your television.
YouTube Red was recently introduced as a new option in the world of online streaming entertainment. The monthly subscription fee provides you with ad-free videos and allows downloading of videos for watching offline. It also provides access to Google Play music and exclusive YouTube Original shows.
5. HBO Now
If any of your favorite shows are on HBO, this streaming service is one of the only ways that you can legally watch them without a cable subscription. There are many movies available on HBO Now, including feature films that were recently playing in theaters and movies from decades ago. HBO has distribution rights to movies from 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures. All original HBO series are available to stream, on a permanent basis.
HBO Now works with your computer, tablet, and smartphone, or it can be streamed to your television. The current subscription pricing is $14.99 per month on the HBO Now website.
Amazon provides a couple of different options for television streaming. They have the Amazon Fire Stick or Amazon Fire TV. Both of these devices attach to your television, provide internet streaming services, and come with a remote control.
Amazon streaming will work with paid subscription sites like Hulu and Netflix. In addition, these devices allow you to download a variety of different apps to your television. There are many free options, including news, sports, children’s, and entertainment video apps.
If you are a frequent purchaser of products online, you may want to consider a subscription to Amazon Prime. This membership provides free two-day shipping on orders and special pricing on certain items. In addition, it provides you with access to Amazon’s database of on-demand entertainment. The selection of things to watch is less as compared to other providers, but you have the added benefits of shipping and can download one free book every month.
7. Sling TV
Sling TV is a relatively new option for streaming entertainment. The monthly fee is higher than its predecessors ($20 – $40), but still easily beats the cost of cable television. This service provides unlimited access to live streams of popular channels including TNT, TBS, Disney Channel, Lifetime, CNN, HGTV, Comedy Central, and ESPN. It is not “on-demand,” where you watch what you want, when you want. However, Sling TV provides access to shows that are not available on the other platforms. If sporting events are a dealbreaker for cutting cable, Sling TV may be the solution for you.
Sling TV has on-demand movies, although you have to pay a separate rental fee for each one that you watch. There are add-on options for additional channel packages, and for HBO.
Library [Bonus Idea]
If you’re looking for ways to really save money, try using the library as your source for entertainment. They have DVD’s that you can borrow for free. In addition, more and more libraries are implementing online access to electronic materials.
The days of expensive cable or satellite television may be numbered with all of the different alternatives that continue to increase and expand. Switching to a streaming service provider should be a fairly painless experience that will keep you supplied with entertaining television while saving you money. Even subscribing to two different services is still likely to be cheaper than what you normally pay the cable company. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you really want to watch, instead of worrying about having as many channels as possible.
Do you have a favorite online streaming service? If so, let us know about it in the comments.