While significantly improved, gas prices are still extremely high. The stock market and economy as a whole are MIA, and people everywhere are looking at ways to save money. My suggestion? Cancel your cable/satellite TV subscription and switch to watching all of your favorite shows and movies over the web. It’s a much better option than you might think.
If you just can’t give up your TV, you don’t have to. Many of today’s computers can be connected directly to your TV allowing you to watch streaming web-based content in your living room. All with minimal, unnoticeable quality loss…for free.
If you’re a die-hard sports fan, just laid out a few thousand dollars for a TV, or have a slow internet connection this tip probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy getting home from work/class, kicking off your shoes, and settling in to watch your favorite TV series, the news or a movie, start watching a few of your favorite episodes online. Give it a month, and if you think you’re ok with the switch, cancel your cable.
It’s a relatively new option. If you wanted to watch your favorite TV shows online a year ago you would have had to be fairly tech savvy, have a lot of patience, and be willing to invest a fair amount of effort and energy locating and downloading the latest and greatest episodes. Luckily for you and me these trailblazers set a precedent which major media has started to adopt in a big way. With advances in video compression and broadband streams you can now watch full screen video in high resolution…all for free. Not only is it free, it’s on-demand. You can pause it, load it, and stop it at will AND all the while you’re only exposed to periodic brief 30 second advertising spots instead of 15 minutes of advertising an hour.
I haven’t subscribed to cable TV in a year which has saved me nearly $600 in subscription costs (based on Cox’s pricing). I still watch Dancing with the Stars, House, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, the John Stewart Show, Stargate Atlantis, Eureka and others on a weekly basis (when new episodes are airing). More of a movie person? New websites like Hulu and Joost are constantly adding new movies and episodes to their already sizable collections. If that’s still not enough…a $8.99 monthly subscription to Netflix includes unlimited access to their database of more than 12,000 movies all of which can be streamed online.
Joost.com – Just launched a new web-based flash version of their player and while still fairly limited, it is making a major push to add a lot of additional content.
YouTube.com – Has just launched a full episode/movie platform. However, it’s still very early stage/low quality.
You can also go straight to the horses mouth:
ABC.com – Offers most if not all of their shows online. They even offer most of them in HD. Just select ‘Full Episodes”.
Fox.com – Not to be outdone Fox offers a wide variety – some of which is duplicated on their partner site Hulu.com
NBC.com – They’re right there with the rest of the pack. Get your Conan, Heroes, etc. here.
SciFi.com – Far more stingy with their content, SciFi has been experimenting with streaming episodes. Expect more from them soon.
HistoryChannel.com – Yep, they’re online too.
Discovery/TLC/Animal Planet – All three offer streaming episodes.
PBS.org – Full length episodes available.
C-Span.com – Watch it live.
Concerned about news? All of the major news providers offer streaming video. However, instead of watching it, I’d suggest reading it. You’ll get access to a lot more newsworthy information than the 3 news stories the major news outlets repeat every 15 minutes.
One word of caution. A number of major ISPs have begun metering bandwidth. While most of the caps far exceed what average/heavy users will be using, it is advisable that you double check that your monthly bandwidth allotment is over 20gb download a month.
The list above is assembled off the top of my head. Have a favorite streaming episode or movie site? Please share it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.
*EDIT* – 11/3/2008 – Todd Spangler, Tech Editor for Multichannel News -a part of the Reed Business Network – contacted me a bit over a week ago with an interest in setting up an interview after reading this post. I agreed, and have been featured as one of the interviews in this edition’s cover story “Breaking Free”. You can view the complete article online here.