When we decided to get rid of DirecTV, we were paying over $100 every month. Lots of times we would flip through hundreds of channels and find nothing interesting to watch. We talked about it for months and eventually, of course, we cancelled DirecTV right before the Rockies were in the World Series, but who would have thought they’d get that far?!
Since then, we’ve found that there are a number of different websites and applications that allow you to watch movies, news shows, and weekly or nightly TV shows without having to subscribe to a cable or satellite service. All of these services come with a free trial.
Netflix – Starts at $7.99 for one viewer/ $9.99 for 2 / $11.99 for 4 viewers – Netflix is what we primarily use at our house and we’re pretty happy with it. Downsides? There are times when it “thinks” and we watch the little red circle spin round and round for minutes on end. They also don’t seem to like when you watch two many movies back-to-back-to-back.
Amazon Prime – $99 per year – Not just movies, Amazon Prime includes free two day shipping, streamed music, Kindle books, etc.
Hulu – $7.99/month, $11.99/month without commercials – You can watch current episodes and entire seasons of TV shows. The fine print says that some of the more popular shows still have commercials, but they are limited to the beginning and end of the show as opposed to interrupting the show two or three times with commercials.
YouTube has always been free, but there is the time hassle of finding what you want. Increasingly, there are commercials either before or during the video. Commercial shows are generally not available on YouTube.
HBO Now – $14.99/month – You no longer need to subscribe to a cable or satellite service to get Home Box Office!
Acorn TV – $4.99/month with first month free – For folks who like British shows. A friend of mine has been streaming Acorn for quite a while now. She and her husband really like it.
A lot of news and comedy shows are available online the day after they’ve been broadcast live. Shows like:
- The Rachel Maddow Show
- The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – This is an HBO show, but video clips are available on YouTube
- Real Time with Bill Maher – Also an HBO show with its own YouTube channel
- Comedy Central has shows like South Park, Drunk History, Comedy Underground and Tosh.0
Some news stations provide taped videos and live streaming of their news programs. Some of these include:
- ABC News –
- CNN – you can watch various videos. Live CNN news is only available to cable or satellite subscribers.
- MSNBC – has a number of regular programs that you can watch the day after they have been aired. Like CNN, you can only watch MSNBC Live as a subscriber to cable/satellite.
- CBC -Canadian news
- BBC -British news
Roku – works with your existing TV to stream whatever apps you’ve signed up for. In this case the cost is for the hardware – $50 – $130 plus the cost of streaming apps. Roku works with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, PBS, Acorn TV, and many others.
Apple TV – Works like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV, where it needs an internet network connection to retrieve content, and has an HDMI jack which contains video and audio which outputs to an HDMI-input port on your television. It has a small and narrow shaver-like remote control, and can display video from apps such as Netflix and Hulu. The differentiator of the Apple TV is that it can be used to remotely display the content of your Apple computer. But the computer must be within about 10-15 feet of your high end WiFi router, or else the video artifacts will make the display look very blocky.
Which of these services do you use? Are there others that you use that I didn’t include? Let me know your favorites in the comments below!
Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.