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Learn how you can Live a Cable Free Life and still watch your favorite shows!
All my life, I’ve lived without cable. Well, except when Matt and I moved into our first apartment together, and Time Warner hadn’t shut it off from the previous tenant… it took them about a year to figure it out. I’ve always had just the basics; NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. In recent years CW and Fox have made their way into the stream of basic television, so now we have those too. However, Matt and I really enjoy our network television shows like The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and of course… my beloved Game of Thrones. And we’ve found ways to still watch all of them without having a cable or satellite subscription. So I wanted to share our ways and encourage some of you to live a cable free life too!
We are total television junkies, I know… tsk, tsk. So of course I love that I don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy my favorite shows. I’m sure many of you already use some of these money saving features and devices, but for those of you who don’t, here’s how Matt and I get all of our favorite shows for less than $30.00 a month. If you figure that the average cable cost is $100.00 a month, that’s a savings of $840 over the course of a year!!!
The Roku: We discovered this little device about 2 1/2 years ago, and it is hands down one of the best purchases we have ever made. Roku is an instant streaming device that has several channels such as huluPLUS*, Netflix, and HBO GO. The Roku starts at $42.99 but you can use a Wii or PS3 which also have these same streaming capabilities. We also have a smart tv in one room which has these options built right into it, and you’ll find that the smart tv’s are not that much more expensive considering what you can do with them. Roku recently released the Roku Stick which plugs right into the HDMI outlet on your tv.
Cost: $40.00 – $100.00
Apple TV: Apple TV is (from what I can tell) almost the exact same thing as the Roku, but it’s compatible with itunes and not with the Amazon Instant Video app. It’s also the only device in which you can get the HBO Now app. I think it really comes down to preference between the two. Or if you want to watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, you’ll need both.
huluPLUS*: I love huluPLUS! Remember when it first came out and Alec Baldwin did the commercials about tv melting your brain… well it’s really not that far off. hulu has most of your big television shows available to stream less than 12 hours after they air and because of that… I’m hooked. I also love that hulu has a mobile app, and I can watch the shows that Matt doesn’t like while I’m on my lunch break. Hulu has agreements with ABC, NBC, CW, FOX, and several other stations. They even have shows that are exclusive like The Booth at the End, a mini series which is sure to give you some food for thought.
Now, most people are aware of hulu, but they don’t realize that hulu.com has even more to offer as some channels only make their shows available to online huluPLUS users. These channels include Bravo, Food Network, HGTV, ABC Family, and CBS. I love this because it allows me to get Pretty Little Liars and Top Chef a month after it airs.
Cost: $7.99/month (first 2 weeks are free)
HDMI Cable: Now, you’re probably thinking, I don’t want to watch a show on my laptop, I want to watch it on my television. Well, all you have to do is invest in an HDMI cable, connect it to your laptop and TV, and voila!
Google Chromecast: This device is another another alternative to cable, it does the same connection job as an HDMI cable, but you can still continue to use your computer while your show runs in the background! Matt got one for Christmas last year and he uses it to play computer games on the big screen and for our yoga sessions with Jillian Michaels through YouTube (Man, that woman is mean).
Amazon Fire Stick: This stick is very similar to the Roku and Roku Stick. This device has twice the memory and storage of the Chromecast and works on it’s own like the Roku. I have never used this product as it’s relatively new and we love our Roku, but I’ve heard great things about it!
Netflix: For people like me who have seen just about every show there is to see, I’m not really a huge fan of Netflix. Netflix doesn’t have current seasons of television shows, but it does have a large assortment of older seasons. Netflix is great for weekend marathons of shows you’ve never seen or maybe just want to rewatch. Matt actually loves Netflix for the original series like House of Cards (That show is insane, b-t-dubs). He also like watching shows like Man vs. Food and Good Eats on Netflix too! Plus, they recently started streaming the entire Friends series which I could happily lose a week or two to.
Netflix also offers a movie by mail option which is an additional monthy cost. This is not a service that we use, but I know others who do. We usually have Netflix for 8 months out of the year.
Cost: $7.99/month for streaming and $7.99/month for movies by mail. (first month is free)
Amazon Prime: This is how we watch Falling Skies, Suits, and several other shows. Each season uploads several months after it finishes airing, but because there isn’t as big of a fan following as some of the other shows we watch, I don’t mind waiting because it’s very unlikely that someone will spoil something for me. If you are a student, you can sign up for a free 6-month Amazon Prime Membership. Once you sign up as a student, like I did, your Prime renewal is only $49.00 a year instead of the regular $99.00. All you need is an email address ending in .edu or something along those lines. The nice thing about Prime is that they are so many other benefits other than free movies and TV shows. Plus you get the HBO Collection and access to Amazon Exclusive shows like Golden Globes winning Transparent and Bosch.
Cost: $4.08 – $8.25/month (first month is free)
Amazon Instant Video: Matt and I LOVE Amazon Instant Video. This is how we watch The Walking Dead! The morning after it airs, it’s available for purchase. One click, $1.99, instantly in your Amazon Library! They also have an option for purchasing Season Pass for around $20.00 a season depending on the show.
This is also how we rent most of our movies, because if you’re anything like me, then you never seem to be able to get the thing back to the Redbox. What I really enjoy about the rentals on Amazon is that you have 30 days after renting to watch the movie, and once you activate the rental, you have it for 24-48 hours depending on the film. Rentals range between $0.99 and $4.99, most new releases are $3.99.
The other great thing about Amazon Instant Video is that you can buy the HD digital copies of movies two weeks before they’re released on DVD! We streamed Big Hero 6 last night, 2/16/15, and it doesn’t come out until 2/24/15.
Cost: Varies – $8.00/month (Not including our movie rentals or purchases)
HBO Go: Now for Game of Thrones lovers like Matt and I, HBO shows are hard to come by in the streaming world. No wonder they’re two of the most pirated shows on television. If you have a friend or family member who already has cable or HBO, then you could consider asking them to use their HBO Go account. Matt’s parents have cable, and typically it costs about $15.00 a month to add HBO to their service. So we’ll give them the cash and they’ll add it on for three months, just long enough for a season and then we’ll discontinue it. $45.00 might seem like a lot for a show… but when it comes to Game of Thrones… I don’t mess around. If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones before, I highly recommend it and the books too!
HBO Now: It’s official! HBO has FINALLY launched a stand alone streaming service just in time for the new season of Game of Thrones! (Woot – no more mooching off your inlaws!) There’s a twist though, unlike most of the previously mentioned apps, HBO Now is only available on the Apple TV and iOS. If you’ve used HBO Go in the past, then the layout of the app will be quite familiar with a similar setup.
HBO Now also allows you to add authorized users to the account so you can share with family. However, you should note that HBO reserves the right to limit simultaneous streaming at anytime. Basically, don’t binge watch Game of Thrones while your mom is speed watching the entire season of True Detective three towns over. Watch responsibly and no one get hurt 😉 The nice thing about HBO Now is that you get the full vault of HBO shows and mini series, definitely worth the monthly subscription price! They also have a large collection of movies and list the expiration date for each one from the service.
For a visual walk through of the HBO Now app, click here.
We usually only pay for HBO 2-3 months out of the year.
Cost $15.00/month (first month is free)
So as you can see, you can still watch your favorite network television shows without the outrageous cable bill each month. When adding up Matt and I’s use of these entertainment features we spend about $28.00 a month.
Here’s a great article that breaks down the new Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chrome Cast, and the Roku. Read it here.
I know this post wasn’t very delicious or pretty, but hopefully it will help some of you save money by cutting your cable bill and putting that money in your pocket each month.
Q: How can I watch sports without cable?
A: We don’t watch a lot of sports, so I can’t speak from experience, but check out this article here.
Q: How can I watch the Hallmark Channel?
A: While I don’t watch this channel myself, there is a Hallmark Channel on the Roku, though I don’t believe it has the current stuff but is great if you want to do a marathon of something. Hallmark also released it’s Hallmark Channel Everywhere, so if you have a friend or relative you can bribe with some Rocky Road Cupcakes for their code then you’re good to go!
Q: Do you still have you local stations?
A: Sure do! None of the devices we use interfere with our local broadcasting. We use a basic antenna for better reception. We get CBS, ABC, NBC, CW and FOX.
Q: How can I watch my Hunting shows?
A: I honestly don’t know, there doesn’t appear to be a streaming service for them. Try looking for your shows on Amazon Instant Video to see if they’re available. You could also try YouTube, it’s amazing what you can find on there! Plus a Google CromeCast stick will put it right from your computer to your TV screen!
Q: Do you need high speed internet?
A: Yes, high speed internet is crucial for streaming devices.You will need to have at least a 15 MB download speed for streaming. This is not a cost we factor in as we had high speed internet long before these devices.
This post was last updated April 7, 2015.
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