Family Unplugged

My husband and I always try to find ways to cut waste out of our lives and keep things simple and basic.  For the last three years, we have lived without cable television services and have saved a noticeable amount of money as well as gained peace of mind concerning our children and television.  We bought an Apple TV and Kindle Fire TV.  We have movies and TV shows that we previously purchased on the iTunes store, so it made sense for us to have both TVs.  We subscribe to Hulu Limited, Netflix 2 Screen + HD, Netflix 1 DVD disc Unlimited, and Amazon Prime.  Our total monthly bill for our television services is $32.22 per month, a total of 386.64 per year.  Not a single person in our household misses cable television.  My husband does wish that the NFL would sell a streaming service, even if it was just the Red Zone channel, and I wish Disney would sell their app for Disney Junior as a streaming service, but other than that, we do not feel that we are missing out on anything.

Financial savings is not the only reason we made the decision to unplug from cable services.  With streaming services, there are limited to no commercials, and you have better control over what your children are allowed to watch and when.  We have several educational, award winning shows at our fingertips to turn on for our children when we allow them to watch television.  Some of these shows include, but are not limited to: Tumbleweed and Creative Galaxy on Amazon Prime, Little Einsteins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Octonauts on Netflix, Wild Kratts, Word World and Sesame Street on Hulu.  Having these shows available at the time that we are allowing our toddler and 4 year old to watch television has made the experience of television more enriching.  Our thirteen year old enjoys the streaming service because she has had the opportunity to catch up on shows such as Dr. Who, Supernatural and Once Upon a Time.  My husband and I have been able to stay up to date with the Marvel cinematic universe through Shield, Dare Devil, Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones.  We are able to enjoy shows from the Food Network such as Good Eats, and were avid follower of the Daily Show.  The services we utilize have not left us wanting for anything except football (my husband misses this the most, but he goes out to watch his Eagles if we can’t pick the game up on our antenna). With cable or satellite, unless you have DVRed the shows, you are forced to watch what the networks are airing at that particular time. As opposed to paying for a service that supplies hundreds of channels that are never playing anything that interests us, we can select from thousands of shows on Netflix and Amazon, and stay current on shows we follow through Hulu.

There is also an app, for those who really enjoy the live television feed, called Sling Television.  This app, from reviews on Amazon, appears to work decently, though bugs are still being worked out, and allows users to stream ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family, CNN, El Rey, Galavision, Makers, IFC, A&E, HISTORY, H2, Lifetime, Polaris+ and Bloomberg TV.  There are also  packages that can be added on for an additional $5 per month per package. Depending on the networks you typically watch, this could be a huge savings compared to what current cable packages cost.  I have personally not used this app because we have grown to used to being able to select the shows we would like to see, and cannot vouch for it, but it is an alternative for those of you out there who have not switched because you enjoy live TV.

Below, I have broken down the cost based on two years of service with streaming and with cable/satellite services.  In my opinion, online television is a much better value than cable or satellite, but this is information for you to look at and decide for yourself.

Please note:  *Data shown below is over a two year period. Some cable companies did not provide information on what prices would be after a 1 year contract, so those prices were kept the same for both years. I based this on two years because some of the cable/satellite companies required a two year contract to receive discounted prices.  Equipment costs were hidden and difficult to find with most cable/satellite companies, but I included what I was able to find. Installation and start up fees are not included in calculations for Cable/Satellite companies. Monthly internet fee not included for prices with streaming services as that cost greatly varies.  If you are new to streaming services, you will have an out of pocket cost for streaming equipment if you do not already have a smart TV, a Playstation, X-Box, Wii, etc.  The Amazon Fire runs around $99.99 and if you are going to get Prime, is the most cost effective purchase. Prices valid as of 12/04/2015 as advertised online at official sites for companies listed.

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For those of you who have been tinkering with the idea of looking into streaming services, if you are not using Dish, the financial savings are incredible.  I was pleased to see that there was one cable company that was reasonably priced in comparison to streaming.  I have never received a bill from Dish, so if they do have hidden costs and fees, I am unaware of them.  For a more thorough breakdown of what I was comparing, please click on PriceBreakdown.

The most incredible information I came across was that even though cable and satellite subscriber numbers have been dropping, the revenue of cable and satellite providers has been growing.  I wonder if hidden fees have grown, or if subscribers even know how much they are paying after their first year in contract because most of the cable and satellite companies require auto payment set up to receive the discounted rates advertised.  There are no hidden fees or additional costs for online television, you pay the monthly cost and that is it.  The only additional cost that is not included is the monthly fee for internet service.

In summary, if you are interested in unplugging and have been hesitant, I hope that I have supplied you with enough information to consider taking the plunge.  Please feel free to ask me any questions about streaming services.  I am not an affiliate of any of the above services, and am not receiving any compensation from anyone for this article.  I just wanted to put this information out there so people could see the differences and ask any lingering questions they may have.  For those of you who have already unplugged, I believe we are the pioneers of the television of tomorrow and it is only a matter of time before networks will take the steps that CBS, Showtime and HBO already have, in selling streaming apps for their networks that don’t require a cable subscription.