Let me start by saying that I love TV. I watch it every night for at least a couple of hours, if not more. I get addicted to shows that I have to watch week after week. I can do a weekend show marathon with the best of them. When I first made the decision to cut the cable cord and use streaming services for my television needs, it was a hard transition. But now, I can’t imagine going back. I save over $100 a month by cutting the cable cord, which is around a $1,200 savings each year. And, truthfully, I really don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Things Streaming Can’t Replace
Granted, I am fairly flexible when it comes to my viewing habits. Some things can’t be replaced with streaming, unless you get into some illegal tech shortcuts that are above my technological skill set. So what are deal breakers when it comes to cutting the cord? If you are addicted to any of the below, cutting the cable cord may not be the best option for you:
Sporting Events: If you want to see the Cubs game in the comfort of your own home, streaming is not for you. I’ve worked around this by going to a bar to see the few games a year that I must watch, or by streaming ESPN or CBS during March Madness. But if you are devoted fan that must watch every single game, streaming is not for you.
Premium Cable Shows: If you need to watch the latest True Blood or Game of Thrones, there is no streaming alternative for you. While some premium channels have talked about launching streaming services, none have done so yet, so it might be a good idea to keep your cable.
Specific Shows: Between Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, streaming services cover a wide range of shows, but not all of them. If you watch an obscure show that isn’t included in any of these streaming services, or need to see a show every week that isn’t included with Hulu, it might be a good idea to keep your cable.
Other than that, you can be completely entertained by the offerings of the current streaming services. Here is a quick breakdown of each service I use and what I use them for:
Best for Mindless Watching: Netflix
This is my go-to for watching mindless TV. My favorite thing to do is a pick a show and watch the entire series from beginning to end, whether it be Lost or Cheers. The best part? It’s only $8/month for the streaming service. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the $100+ you are spending on cable. What else do I use Netflix for? Watching old movies. Watching a limited number of newly released movies. Catching up on seasons of TV shows that I missed from the previous season. If you are interested in checking out Netflix, you can get a 30-day free trial here.
Best Selection: Amazon
While Netflix’s selection is vast, it is slightly lacking, especially compared to Amazon’s Instant Video, which is free for Amazon Prime users. If you are looking for a new release or just a movie or show that isn’t offered on Netflix or Hulu, the next best place to check is Amazon. Their Instant Video section lets you rent or buy movies and shows to stream online or download, and an Amazon Prime membership ($79/year) — which also gives you free 2-day shipping on most Amazon items — will give you free access to much of the Amazon Instant Video library. If you want to check out Amazon Instant Video or are just interested in trying out Amazon Prime, get a 30-day free trial here.
Best for Current TV Shows: Hulu
This is where I go to watch the latest episodes of my favorite TV shows. Sure, I have to wait a day after the show airs, but with DVRs and On-Demand services, no one really watches shows live anymore anyway. Hulu has a great selection, everything from Bravo shows to the latest Glee. Hulu is also $8/month, so between Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, you are only spending $22.50/month on your TV viewing. If you want to check out Hulu, get a 1 week free trial here.
Other Streaming Services
iTunes: If you can’t find the movie or TV show you want to watch on Amazon, iTunes will probably have it to rent or buy. Browse iTunes movie and TV selection here.
Redbox Instant: If you like renting your movies from the Redbox kiosks at your local grocery store, but sometimes don’t feel like leaving your couch to get them, this is a great service. You even get 4 credits for the physical rental kiosks when you sign up for the streaming service, which is $8/month. If you are interested in checking out Redbox Instant, you can get a 30-day free trial here.