Everyone talks about our fast-paced lives and how it’s becoming increasingly hard to make time for things. I have a few things to say about that, but for the purposes of this post, let’s address one of the reasons it’s hard to ‘make time’ for things -
you have to work with someone else’s schedule.
I would imagine most mother’s can relate to me when I say that the idea of sitting down on the couch every night and watching a program or movie sounds great, but isn’t very realistic. Does it happen? Of course! But it happens by way of us deciding to let someone else dictate our schedule. Because networks put programs on at specific times, and instead of watching something you might enjoy more, you are forced to watch whatever show is on at that time, or re-arrange your schedule to be ‘available’ when the other show airs.
Many of us, including myself, were excited when we got a DVR. Whether it was a TiVO unit, or just the type that can be leased from your cable company, it was schedule-saving! Now, we could DVR that show we really wanted to see, and watch it later. Of course, then it became a matter of which DVR show we want to watch…there were so many, right? And if you didn’t watch one fast enough, it would no longer be available. And if you really wanted to see something again, like a movie or a favorite episode, you had to sacrifice room for future shows. But yet, we could fast-forward the 5 minutes of commercials and we weren’t beholden to the networks. And it was good.
Now, even having a DVR seems ancient. With the explosion of streaming media, paying for television shows is fast becoming unnecessary. Why lease a DVR for $6.99/month from your cable company, plus pay $30-$50 or more to get programs? They are available, with extremely short commercial breaks (we’re talking 15-30 second spots) online. Hulu and Netflix are slowly but surely changing the way people get their entertainment while still providing an outlet for advertising. The best part? You rarely have to worry about not finding a show. But, even if you can’t find a particular show – is it really worth paying $30-$50 every month for the privilege of watching it? Only you can decide that, but for my money, shows like “Dancing With The Stars” are nice distraction, but not worth $30/month!
There are certain restrictions with streaming through Hulu, but overall there aren’t many negatives over what you get with cable. For example, a show currently airing will have the last five episodes available. So if you miss more than five episodes, you can’t go back far enough to completely catch-up. But, if you had cable, you wouldn’t be able to catch-up at all, until re-runs. Certain channels don’t have content through Hulu yet, but in time it will come. And what you cannot get with Hulu, you can often find on Netflix. You must pay for a Netflix account in order to stream video, but plans run as low as $8.99/month for 1 DVD (at-a-time) and that would replace your need for a Blockbuster membership. If you utilize streaming from Netflix, depending on how many shows/movies you watch per week, it can certainly be more cost-effective than paying for cable and renting $1 movies from a kiosk like Redbox.
The biggest hurdle to moving away from cable or satellite to streaming media is the initial cost. You can access Hulu right now on your computer, and if you have a Netflix account, you can stream directly to your computer as well. However, I doubt most members of your family will want to sit in a computer chair in front of a 20″ monitor to watch a show or movie. Also, it’s hard to do family movie night in a small office if more chairs are needed. Instead, you will want a computer for your entertainment system with wireless control. There are a few options on the market, that run from the $700′s to over $1,000 with added peripherals. You can also have a company like ours custom-build a system for you, often for cheaper than retail pricing. That seems like a lot, but consider that if you keep paying for just cable, you’ll have spent that amount in a year – less if you have premium channels. Consider the difference in cost between how you rent now and the potential savings from a Netflix membership and your time until it saves you money gets even shorter.
This may not be an ideal solution for everyone, yet. You must be comfortable enough with using the computer to navigate a website, rather than just scrolling up/down on your cable menu to choose programs, and the resolution on a bigger screen TV might be a problem. Overall, however, streaming media is definitely the future of television and with everyone wanting to save money, ditching the monthly drain of cable or satellite service seems like a great place to start!