The website Buxr posted a comprehensive article on low cost alternatives for cable TV. I am reprinting their article here:
“If you’re unhappy with triple-digit cable costs, you’re certainly not alone. In the past year, a growing number of cable subscribers have been canceling their service, opting instead for a combination of streaming, downloaded, and over-the-air content. While you won’t find everything cable provided in a single alternate source, the latest advances in technology and growth of online content offer you plenty of free or low-cost options.
Formerly available only on computers, Internet TV from sources like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or iTunes is now accessible from a growing number of network-enabled devices, including TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and smartphones. These services are offering a much wider selection of content than cable, for far less cost. Your choices are expanded from hundreds of TV shows and movies from the single cable source to literally thousands from many sources.
Netflix is your best bet among the subscription options, starting at $7.99 per month. For one monthly fee, you can watch as much or as little of the available programming as you’d like, choosing from an instant catalog of more than 20,000 movies and tv or select cable shows. For $2 more, you can add one DVD by mail to your streaming video subscription. They’re offering a free trial for a month and are supported on PS3, Wii or Xbox 360 game consoles; streaming players like Apple TV, Roku, or Boxee and nearly every network-enabled home and mobile device.
Hulu Plus offers this season’s hit shows, classic series, and legendary movies. Pay $7.99 a month for unlimited access, limited advertisement, and 720p resolution. You can stream your choices to gaming consoles, connected TVs, smartphones, tablets and more. You can try it out for a month for free.
There are a few options for sports events, but they’re not cheap. Baseball is offered by MLB.TV for $20-$25 per month depending on the plan, with up to a week’s worth of previous games available for streaming. Remember, games for local teams are blacked out anyway, so it may not be worthwhile, depending on where you’re located. Other available sports services that offer live streaming games include hockey at NHL Gamecenter Live ($4.95/mo), and basketball at NBA League Pass.
‘Pay As You Go’ options
With Vudu, you can stream movies to Sony PS3, Blu-ray players, HDTVs, or Boxee. You’ll find more HD content there, available without a monthly subscription or contract. There are no late fees, and thousands of movies are available to rent starting at $2 for 2 nights. When you activate a new account, you get a free movie credit, allowing you to try it out.
Amazon Video-On-Demand offers over 90,000 titles of TV shows and movies, commercial-free and in high-definition.
Free viewing options
You can watch free live streaming sports online at ESPN3. This includes every sport from auto racing, football, soccer, cricket, tennis, and rugby to water sports and more.
The free version of Hulu only offers content on your computer. With this plan, you have access to movies and up to 5 recent episodes of popular current season shows in standard definition.
If you download their free flash video software, you can watch live TV at ChannelChooser, TVChannelsFree, or WatchTVChannels.
Some of the networks and cable channels that offer their own programming online for free include NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, A&E, Discovery, Home and Garden TV, Lifetime, MTV, and PBS.
Google TV service is free, but you’ll need to invest in hardware that supports it, like Logitech Revue or select Sony TVs and Blu-ray players.
Few people realize that they can receive totally free high definition signals from major TV networks just by connecting a basic over-the-air antenna. In fact, in most cases over-the-air HDTV has slightly better image quality than the HD paid cable service, because cable companies often compress their signals in order to include more channels. Every modern HDTV has a built-in tuner, and chances are you’ll only need an inexpensive indoor antenna to get crystal clear over-the-air HDTV. You can check what kind of TV reception you’re likely to get by entering your street address at AntennaWeb. The site will tell you how far you are from transmitting stations and which channels will come in easily. This will give you access to the major network channels near you.
The most important step is to identify which services you want and the hardware that supports them before you sign up for a subscription. Bear in mind that you’ll need a decent Internet connection to get good quality reception, because streaming video is the most bandwidth-intensive online activity. A signal of at least 2Mbps downstream, or preferably 5Mbps or more, is required. Fiber service is the best choice and cable modems usually are good enough. But many DSL services may not be adequate, and dial-up is totally unacceptable. Before you consider buying a standalone box such as Roku (from $59), AppleTV or Boxee ($199), check out your Blu-ray players and game consoles to see if you already own Internet TV-enabled devices that can be easily configured.”
Thanks for your hard work Buxr!
** If you want to compare cable TV packages in your area, I recommend a website called www.whitefence.com. This is an easy to use free resource that gives you a side by side comparison of the cable TV packages available to you. This info is also useful if you want to call your current provider and ask them for a discount to prevent you from making a switch.