Whether it’s personal politics about Comcast, Time Warner and the rest of them, the economy and saving money, no time to spare, or you just can’t stand commercials, Ditching your cable TV subscription is a great way to save, sleep easier at night and can be done easily using the Internet with OS X.
Why drop cable TV?
Money and Time. That’s the two main reasons why losing cable is a good idea. Starting around $30 a month (for practically nothing) and going up into the $100’s a month, cable is pretty expensive. If you live in an area controlled by a cable company you don’t agree with, do you really want to support them with that kind of money every month?
Time is the second reason. How much time do you spend in front of the TV that’s a commercial, channel flipping or watching whatever is on while you wait for your show to start?
Wouldn’t it be nice to:
– Watch what YOU want to watch?
– Watch it WHEN you want to?
– With less or no commercials?
– Without filler programming?
– For only the cost of your internet subscription?
You can do this and it’s pretty painless but It does require knowing where to go and what to do…
Getting the News:
A big reason why people watch cable TV is for the news. Besides the question of whether it’s really news or not – world events vs fluff stories. You’re going to want to know what’s going on. You’ll even find that you can even read the articles and be more informed in less time than it takes to watch a 30 minute broadcast.
From major news companies, independent news, foreign news, to smaller blogs, wikis and sites, you can get it all on the internet. Here’s a few recommended news sites:
For local news, your local TV / Newspapers all have sites where you can read the latest news from your local market.
Watching television programming on cable can easily be replaced by the internet. This section will deal with how to do it legally.
All of the networks either stream their programming themselves, offer it via another company or release the season on DVD. In the case of DVDs, it’s months after the season ends so that’s not recommended if you want to keep current with your favorite show.
Hulu: The most recommended site to watch television online is Hulu. Most of the networks put their shows on Hulu and the viewing experience is top quality. The downside is that shows may be removed after a certain period of time.
iTunes: iTunes offers a good experience and lets you keep the episodes for watching offline, years later. However, iTunes is not free. You pay either by the episode or the season.
Network’s Website: For that one lone network that doesn’t stream through Hulu, you’ll have to visit their site. The rest of the networks stream via their sties as well, although they all want you to download some sort of player / plug-in to do so. The advantage of the networks website and player is that it offers better quality, full-screen video. The disadvantage is that these plug-ins and players may collect information about you.
Sports is easily replaced by the internet and if you follow foreign teams or sports, or are a fan of teams that are out of your local market, you may already be using the internet to keep up with them.
What you will need to decide is whether you want to watch games live, watch pre-recorded games, follow game updates or read the scores afterwards and watch highlights. Each has its own advantages and limitations.
NFL: Unfortunately with sports, exclusive broadcast rights agreements limit your options to watching the games live or in their entirety. So, while it would be incredibly easy for the NFL to stream games from a player on their website for a certain amount, its not technology stopping them. Fortunately, the other leagues are more forward thinking. The NFL does however stream live audio for a season fee so you can listen, but it’s not the same..
MLB: Baseball streams all games at MLB.TV for a season fee. A higher priced HD option is also available.
NBA: Basketball streams of live games are available at NBA League Pass for a season fee.
NHL: Watch live Hockey games at NHL Game Center for a season fee. A free version filled with during game highlights and audio broadcasts i also available at the NHL Game Center.
Without cable and it’s premium movie channels – which show the same 10 movies over and over again, you’ll want some way of watching movies over the internet. Here’s what you can do:
Hulu: Hulu has a small selection of movies available to stream, and while it’s not the most comprehensive selection, it does have some decent movies and it’s free.
iTunes: For a fee, you can rent or buy movies via the iTunes Store. The selection is great with many current new releases. Rental fees are $4 for a new movie, and $3 for an older one which isn’t bad. Purchase movies for $10. Apple also lets you put the movies on your iPod / iPhone / iPod Touch as well.
Netflix: Netflix, as you know, does DVD rentals via mail. What makes Netflix even better is that now, OS X users can take advantage of their streaming movie service. While the streaming selection isn’t as good as iTunes or Netflix’s DVD rentals, its free with your Netflix subscription and the quality is very good. All you’ll have to do is download Silverlight and login to access the streaming.
A Final Point:
While cable itself can get expensive, you want to make sure you aren’t dropping it for an equally expensive combination of sports, Netflix and iTunes packages. You will have to really look at what you use your cable for and figure out your needs accordingly. Especially with iTunes and it’s micro-payment structure ($1 here, $4 there), the costs can add up tremendously.