I have a 47″ plasma TV and no cable…that’s right, you heard me NO CABLE! However, even though I find myself feeling moderately disconnected from the world at times; I realize that not having a cable bill saves me money. The average cable bill monthly is anywhere from $30-60 dollars for a basic package. That is an estimated $360-720 dollars a year. A premium package could cost upwards of $70+ a month, or $840+ a year.
Any purchase or investment should look at the return. If I was paying $60 a month for cable, but only watching a few hours of programming a week, was it worth it? One might want to put an actual cost to the hour. If one watched 10 hours of television a week and paid $60 in cable bills, they would be paying $1.50 for every hour of cable. Obviously heavy viewers would find more return on their payments and might consider it worth every penny. But casual users need to examine the return and decide if they can manage with a reduced or terminated cable package. Cable television isn’t the only answer for in home entertainment and here are some media alternatives that I utilize.
Redbox is pretty much a vending machine for movie rentals. They charge $1 per night and all you need is a credit or debit card to use it. They are usually located within Walmarts but have many other locations. There are 20 located within my area, so the odds are you can find one close to you. Use their Red Box Location Search to find one in your area. You can even reserve a movie online from a specific redbox. If you return the movie the next day before 9:00 pm then you will not be charged for that day. Be sure to return the movie when you are done with it, because you are paying $1 for every night you keep it. Utilizing this with a bit of diligence can help supplement a reduced cable package.
Netfix or Blockbuster are also viable alternatives to cable. For a fraction of the cost you can pick from the latest releases online and have them delivered to your mailbox. There are no late fees, your next movie is sent when the previous one is returned. I’m not sure about Blockbuster, but with Netflix you can stream movies online as well. They both offer different plans where you can select the number of DVDs you want delivered at a time. Netflix has 1 DVD at a time for $8.99 per month or 2 DVDs at a time for $13.99 per month. Blockbuster offers the same deals but they have a 3 DVD plan for $16.99 per month. They also offer in-store exchanges where you can exchange the DVD in store for another movie. It is an additional $3 for 5 in-store exchanges per month. These plans are definitely a cheaper solution for premium cable packages or even cable all together if you are a more casual viewer.
All the previous solutions might be great for new movies, but what about your favorite TV shows? Fortunately, the internet has been taking very large steps towards streaming television online. The leader of this forefront is Hulu. They allow you to stream television shows online for free. I use it and never have problems finding and watching my favorite shows. There are other websites that are following this lead. YahooTV features embeds from Hulu. Joost offers music, film, and television streaming. Spreety seems to maintain a database of shows that links out to the respective hosts. One thing is for certain, as time goes on more and more of these sites are popping up. Forgoing any drastic legislature, this should become more of a commonplace in the near future. Take advantage of this and watch your shows online, without paying a dime.
I’m about to sound like a total dork, but one way to entertain without cable is to play video games. Video game makers have been targeting the casual gamer for the last couple of years. With the advent of the Wii and the Guitar Hero / Rock Band series, just about anyone can find a game that appeals to them on a whole another level of interactivity. While it may cost a pretty penny for the initial cost of the system, it may pay itself back if you find it to be a viable cable alternative. You could save $400-$1,000+ a year by reducing or eliminating your cable bill. The PS3 can also double as a Blu-ray player. All of the latest generation of consoles feature internet connectivity. They also have marketplaces where you can purchase downloadable content such as video games, music, and even movies.
Canceling your cable services sounds like a drastic lifestyle change, but it may not be. Figure out how much you actually use the service you pay for. You may want to consider reducing or even eliminating your services. In this day and age, there are plenty of reasonable alternatives out there. Try it for a month and see if it works. Worst case scenario is that you save some money and spend a little less time being a coach potato. Cable is enjoyable, but the overpriced bill….not so much.
Do you have any cable alternatives? Share them below!