I had enough. Month after month, my cable bill inched higher and higher while my services were being chipped away. Living in a small town, I was only afforded two options: Comcast Cable service or a Satellite Dish.
I have been a Comcast customer for many years. I never really had any complaints about the company. We never had any billing issues, our service rarely went out and when it did, it would be repaired very quickly. All in all, I would have rated Comcast a solid 3 ½ of 5 stars. I WOULD have.
Over the past year, I had noticed that every so often, another channel or two would be missing from our channel line-up. This was not something that concerned me terribly, as the 120 or so channels I had were more than sufficient. However, every month, my cable bill would be $1.00 to $3.00 higher. I really didn’t pay much attention. I received all of my statements via email and rarely would review them. I would just log on and pay what they told me I owed.
Finally, the cable bill, including internet, was over $160.00 per month. I just found this ridiculous! I began to review my statements over the past several months and realized that I had been paying for Showtime for over 16 months without ever realizing it. I never watched a single program on any of the 6 Showtime channels I had paid for. I called Comcast and immediately had Showtime discontinued. Apparently I received Showtime as a 3 free month promotion when I upgraded to HD. UGH! Do you think I had any chance of getting a refund for any of those months? No way.
While I was getting rid of channels, I decided to go ahead and downgrade to just the basic package plus HBO. This included channels 2 through 65 and the 6 HBO channels. I have 1 television in my home with 1 cable outlet. I had a dual HD tuner with DVR and high speed internet. All for the low low price of $141.89 a month plus taxes and fees. What a bargain! (Insert sarcastic thumbs up )
A few more months go by and I notice that my bill is inching closer to the $150 range. Then I receive a bill for $151.74. Not two months later, my bill was $159.26. I whipped out the calculator and realized I was paying nearly $1,800.00 a year to sit in front of the television! That was the breaking point. I knew there had to be an alternative. There had to be a way I could finally unplug myself from this money sucker without sacrificing too much in the way of entertainment. This was going to be especially challenging for our family as a whole as I have 3 and 5 year old boys and a husband who has a near addiction to College Basketball. So I hit the internet to do some digging.
A few days went by then it hit me. How could I have been so oblivious? The answer was there in my lap all along! Every show that we watch on the television, we can watch for free via the internet! Most shows are available for free directly on the network websites. Networks like www.NBC.com, www.CBS.com, www.FOX.com, www.ABC.com have nearly all of their programs available to watch immediately after they air. Cable channels like www.comedycentral.com, www.msnbc.com, www.thehistorychannel.com also air all of their popular programming. Music channels like www.mtv.com and www.vh1.com have videos, streaming songs as well as their most popular programming, as well. There are several websites like www.Hulu.com that offer thousands of programming options, including full length movies, all for the price of zero! The shows and movies on Hulu.com have commercials, but they are limited.
The only downfall to not bowing to the cable company? No access to premium programming. As an admitted HBO junkie (True Blood, Real Time with Bill Maher, Hung are my three favorite shows to watch) I had to ask myself to put a monetary value on what I was watching. I couldn’t justify spending the money just to be able to watch those few shows. So, unfortunately, I will have to go to a friend’s house or wait until the current season comes out on DVD.
Need your sports fix? www.ESPN3.com shows streaming live events in the sports of football, basketball, soccer, even cricket. If you don’t want to be limited to watching on your laptop, almost all newer televisions have the video input needed to hook your laptop up to your television, and voila! Your laptop is now your old cable box, on steroids!
Aside from a laptop, the newer televisions are HD ready, so simply hooking up a HD antennae will get you anywhere from 5 – 15 channels for free, depending on where you life. They range in price depending on your need, from about $10 to over $100 for ones that can be mounted on your roof. Networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS and other local channels are all free, and now in lovely and crisp High Definition.
Then I stumbled upon the grand-daddy of awesome deals. While visiting a friend at her home, she put on a show for the kids to watch, and I was puzzled. She was using her Nintendo Wii remote to watch Netflix? After finding out she was hooked up this way through Netflix, I was in disbelief. Finally, a company giving the consumer a product they want: a lot of choice, a lot of convenience and for very little money.
Netflix doesn’t have to just send you a DVD in the mail anymore. They offer thousands of “on demand” movies and programs that you can stream through your computer, your Nintendo Wii console, your Sony Playstation 3 or a Nintendo Xbox 360 and watch them on your television instantly. They offer differing levels of plans for varying amounts of money per month. The least expensive plan is $8.99 per month and it includes 1 DVD rental at a time and unlimited streaming videos through your laptop or video console. When you receive the DVD you chose in the mail, you can keep it as long as you want and when you return it, your next selection arrives at your house in approximately two days. The best thing was that when you sign up you get to try it for free for 30 days. For more information about Netflix you can visit www.netflix.com
Armed with my new knowledge, I wanted to test everything out before pulling the plug for good. I joined Netflix and waited the 2 days to get the streaming video cd for my Nintendo Wii console. I purchased the cords needed to hook the laptop up to the television and I purchased a digital antennae.
I turned the power on and I haven’t looked back. That was over 30 days ago. With our digital antennae we get all the major networks plus PBS and the CW. We also get a few religious channels and the home shopping network. With our Netflix subscription, we have more shows than we could ever possibly watch. There is enough Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, Blue’s Clues, Caillou, and Veggie Tales to last my children until they are in college.
Not having instant gratification at your fingertips does a great thing for the family. When you are forced to do a little more work for what you want to watch, you are less likely to watch as much television. By having to get up, get the Netflix cd, load it into the Wii console, let it load, stream through and choose the show you want to watch and wait for it to stream, you have waited an entire 68 seconds. Compared to 3 seconds of simply flipping channels, those 68 seconds make a healthy difference.
I have read a book. I have read several magazines. I have had more time to write. My children have done art projects, read more books and played a LOT more outside. And we still get to watch the same programs we always did, plus more. I am paying $59 a month plus taxes and fees for the internet and $8.99 plus tax for Netflix. I am spending about $72.98 a month as opposed to $160.00 – for a savings of around $1,040.00 a year.
Now the question is…..how am I going to spend that $1,000.00? Maybe I will buy a bigger T.V.