If you’ve been following our blog or have read some of our older posts, you know that our family took the leap a little more than a year ago and ditched cable TV. So I wanted to provide an update on why we ditched cable TV … and what we’re watching now.
We’ve made some significant changes as a family within the past year (including 2 moves!). As I look back on posts written last year, I realize that many things have changed with technology, too. One thing that has not changed, at least in our family, is that TV has taken a back seat and is not really part of our family’s day-to-day activities. But we do enjoy an occasional TV show or movie for entertainment, so I wanted to highlight and discuss a few ways to do that without cable.
One option for entertainment without cable TV is broadcast, or over-the-air, TV from an antenna. While using an antenna has been an option in many areas (depending on where you live) for many years, more channels are available. For example, the main channels that have been available for a while now have sub-channels with additional content. However, in terms of broadcast content being available online, there have not been many significant changes in the last year. While some of the broadcast content is available online, it is still somewhat limited.
However, on-demand content through other sources has expanded, including ways to access that content. We have an older Apple TV at our house, but it works flawlessly. And with software updates, more “channels” are now available for different content. One of our favorite ways to view movies and older TV episodes is through Netflix on the Apple TV. We think the monthly costs of Netflix are reasonable, and at this point, the content options are good, including children’s programs. And our Apple TV is not the only way to we can view content from Netflix; we can also view it on our mobile devices and computers (all for the same monthly fee)!
As a competitor to the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV is a relative newcomer to the list of on-demand hardware, but reviews seem to be positive. Through Amazon Prime, Amazon Fire TV boasts over 200,000 TV episodes and movies. While we do not own an Amazon Fire TV, as a member of Amazon Prime, we are eligible to receive many of the same perks, including streaming of the on-demand content to a computer. So for example, our home theater computer (HTPC) can receive this content, and we can view it on our TV.
As a side note, we started our Amazon Prime membership a few years ago. We regularly shopped Amazon for gifts and other products and were paying additional shipping costs. We started a free trial membership that qualified us for free 2-day shipping, and we have continued our Prime membership ever since. The libraries of movies and music available as part of the membership are an added bonus for us. If you are interested in trying out Amazon Prime, they offer a 30-day free trial (which is how we started). If you find the membership, movies, music, and free shipping beneficial, the yearly membership is just $99.
Google Chromecast is another option for online content, and the hardware format is especially compact and affordable. Also, Roku offers another media player that has many features and may be a good entertainment option for you or your family.
So there are many options for entertainment without paying a monthly cable bill, assuming you have broadband Internet. Yes, there are hardware costs, and sometimes a fee (like with Netflix and Amazon Prime), but the content is on-demand, and there is a wide variety of content that may be suitable for the entire family.
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