Are you? It's okay if you're not. I haven't yet. I want to. But you see, I just like live sports too much. Unfortunately, live sports is like the last remaining thing that they (whoever they are) have yet to come up with a good cable-less option for.
In my opinion, if you are indifferent about live sports, you should definitely consider your non-cable/satellite options. The average cable/satellite television bill in the United States is right around $60 for extended basic service. (Source: Bloomberg) How much of that $60 do you think you're getting in usage? If you're using your cable for several hours every day, then you may find it difficult to find a comparable replacement. However, if you're a casual watcher who has a few shows of choice and just watches to unwind, there might be better, more affordable options out there for you.
Let's explore some of the available options.
Boasting a large selection of thousands of movies and TV shows, Netflix is still the leader in non-cable solutions. With an instant streaming service in addition to DVDs by mail, Netflix alone can replace cable for many people. Each service is just $7.99 per month. The DVDs by mail include more recent and popular titles, while the instant streaming selection provides more shows at your fingertips. The DVDs by mail service is great! You can return the DVDs as often as you'd like and can keep them for as long as you want to, with no late fees. You will need a streaming device to get the instant streaming to your TV (see ideas for that below). I would get both, which would set you back just $15.98 each month. That's a $44 savings if your cable bill is around the national average.
• Head over here to browse the Netflix selection.
• Get a 30-day free trial of Netflix right here.
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon offers a couple of great options when it comes to instant video. First, you can access a huge library of TV shows and movies with an Amazon Prime subscription. Those currently run $79 per year or $39 for students. You can also buy individual episodes of newly released TV shows as well as new movies. There are over 16,000 shows and movies in their free library, so it's well worth the $79 per year, which works out to a measly $6.58 per month. As an added bonus, you'll get other benefits of being an Amazon Prime member such as free 2-day shipping on most items at Amazon as well as access to the Kindle lending library for eBooks. In my opinion, anyone ditching cable should absolutely get Amazon Prime. The price/benefit ratio is so far in the customer's favor it's ridiculous.
• Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime here.
Hulu and Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus is a premium service of Hulu. The basic (free) Hulu has a very mediocre selection and you will have to watch just about as much commercials as regular TV. Hulu Plus is only $7.99 per month and comes with very limited advertising. Hulu Plus is popular because of the time frame in which many TV shows are released. Many shows pop up on Hulu Plus the day after they air. If you're a big fan of a certain TV show, this can be a big deal.
• Sign up for a free trial of Hulu Plus here.
This service is separate from their great DVD box service. Redbox Instant is presented by Verizon and is $8 per month. You get 4 credits for Redbox box DVD rentals every month in addition to access to thousands of hours of streaming TV shows and Movies. The selection is known for being pretty paltry, but if you're a regular Redbox renter, you might as well subtract the 4 credits from your monthly payment since you pay for those anyway. Rentals are $1.29 now, so 4 rentals is $5.16. That means after the free credits, you're only paying an extra $2.84 for the instant streaming. For $2.84, the selection doesn't have to be spectacular.
• Sign up for a Redbox Instant free trial here and get your 4 free credits!
Roku is a device that can be used to stream videos to your TV from one of the many subscription TV/Movie services out there like Hulu and Netflix. With Roku, you won't have to fork out $200 for an Xbox 360 or a PS3. With Roku, you'll be able to stream from just about every major streaming service out there including Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, HBO Go and more. You'll have access to 150,000 TV shows and movies with Roku! Of course, with some of the services, you'll have to pay any applicable monthly fees.
The new Roku 3 offers a gaming remote (looks similar to the Wii) with which you can play games such as Angry Birds. Another cool add-on is a remote that you can hook up headphones to so only you can hear what you are watching. This is great in homes with sleeping kids or things like that.
• Get your Roku player here.
This is a great service if you're piecing together some non-cable options. Crackle offers a decent selection of mostly non-new stuff. They currently have 365 free movies and 76 TV shows to stream. I don't ask for much for free, and Crackle delivers a pretty decent amount for the $0.00 price tag and easy to use app interface. You can get the app for Xbox 360, Roku and most major streaming devices.
• Check out Crackle here.
Many networks will offer full episodes directly on their websites as well. ABC, NBC, MTV and others offer episodes of popular shows. Most often, you'll have to wait a few days after the show has aired to see it on their site, but hey, it's free!
Alternatives I will not recommend:
• Apple TV - too expensive, mediocre selection
• Third party/torrent sites - this is mostly illegal and can give your computer viruses
So with all of these options out there, can you do it? I urge you to consider it, as cutting cable can result in a huge cut to one of household's biggest expenses!