If you’re still paying for cable television, you probably share the sentiments of Jimmy McMillan and strongly feel that “the cable is too damn high!” I’ve been trying to cut my cable cord for a couple of years now, but the dreaded FOMO takes over and the idea that I wouldn’t be able to watch Scandal in real-time with the rest of my Gladiators keeps me tied to FIOS for another season. Depending on what you watch, there are different options for finally getting that cable monkey off your back.
Television Shows: If you watch a lot of network television, you might be able to get away with the bare minimum and connect an antenna to your TV. Sounds a little old school, but it’s free and might be enough if you only watch local programming. With an internet connection, you have access to the websites of ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. and can usually watch some shows directly from the network’s site. You’ll be able to get the older seasons of some television programs on Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, but your best bet for TV without cable is probably Hulu Plus. With Hulu Plus, you get current episodes of television shows, usually the day after they air. The service costs $7.99 per month.
Movies: Netflix is currently dominating the on-demand movie market right now. With close to 50 million subscribers worldwide, the streaming service actually has more people paying for it than are ponying up for HBO. And with original programming like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’, your favorite TV shows might already be online anyway. However, Amazon is gaining ground with its Instant Video service available for Prime members. Netflix is $7.99 per month, while the Amazon service requires a Prime membership, which can run anywhere from $79-$99 per year. If you’re already a die-hard Amazon user, the other benefits of the Prime membership (including free shipping) might give that service the edge in this category.
Sports: One of the most common reasons people give for not cutting the cable cord is that they don’t want to miss the big game on TV. It’s going to be a challenge to see most games in real time, but there are some options. Aereo is a streaming service that allows live network television access online, on your mobile device, or through a device like Apple TV or Roku. The basic monthly membership is $8/month, but Aereo is only available in limited areas right now, and the service is also embroiled in a Supreme Court battle with major TV networks, so it might not be available anywhere if things don’t work out with the case. All of the major sports leagues have some version of streaming access, but some are limited. The only way to get live NFL games online is audio-only, through the $30/season Audio Pass service. Baseball fans can pay $130 per year to watch all MLB games from any device with an MLB.TV Premium subscription. And NBA League Pass offers live streaming access to NBA games for $180/year, but local team blackouts are a common complaint with the service.
With more than 90 percent of U.S. households still paying for some sort of television, cable providers aren’t in any danger of declaring bankruptcy just yet. But since the number of options for cutting the cord are growing just as fast as the cost of cable TV, we will continue to see the number of folks jumping from the cable ship rise as well.