Breaking up can be tough, especially when it’s with a multi-billion dollar company which holds roughly 25% of the market share (let’s face it, you probably chose Comcast as your cable provider). And they don’t make it any easier on you when they beg you to stay. But spending $80 each month on cable TV is asking a lot without getting much in return. Just remember that no matter what they tell you on the phone during your tearful goodbye, they’ll never, ever change.
But how will you recover? Mama said there’d be days like this, and you will most definitely long for the happier times when a click of the remote brought you a rush of pre-programmed excitement, but don’t sell yourself short. With a little extra work, you can rebound from your relationship with cable TV. There are more options than ever when it comes to accessing FREE or really cheap shows and movies. Just keep an open mind and a closed wallet.
You can think of websites like Sidereel and SurfTheChannel as speed dating venues; they offer a vast selection of potential leads, but you have to sort through the bullshit. Both sites provide links to other video-hosting sites, like Hulu or Megavideo, where you can stream or download your program of choice for FREE. And in Sidereel’s case, you can even watch some of the more popular shows on their site without having to be redirected. Convenient! However, the sites they do redirect you to don’t always work, and if they do, the quality of the video usually sucks (just like your potential mates). And if Sidereel and SurfTheChannel were humans themselves, they would be the “bad boy/girl” archetype, because you’re never quite sure if they’re completely legal. Man, living on the edge is hot.
Then there’s the ever-dependable Roku or Boxee Box. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these guys, they stream HD shows, movies, sports, and music on your TV using your wireless network. Basically, they can do it all. Isn’t that the kind of man/woman you need in your life? Now, these gadgets seem pretty expensive outright (it’s $60 for the most basic Roku), but when you consider that you’d be spending one month’s cable bill for a product that will provide years of entertainment, it’s really worth it. The Roku offers hundreds of channels, like MLB TV, The Onion News Network, and Netflix. Some of them are completely FREE, but others require a small monthly fee for unlimited access. And the quality is pretty damn awesome if you have a fancy TV. The only downside is that some of the channels can’t stream all of the shows you want to see (cough, Millionaire Matchmaker, cough) because of copyright or whatever. Yeah, it’s lame, but if you can overlook its minute flaws, the Roku really is quite beautiful.
Finally, we mustn’t forget Netflix, the old school Blockbuster nut buster. For just $8 each month, “you get unlimited movies and TV episodes instantly over the internet to your TV or computer,” according to their website. And let me tell you, they really stepped up their “watch instantly” game. Everything I ever wanted to see is included in their watch instantly list, whether it be Ren and Stimpy or a documentary about the Mothman. You can also maximize your viewing experience by buying a $7 HDMI cable to connect your computer to your TV. That way, you can delude yourself into thinking you’ve got the real thing.
Now put the box of tissues down and lift your head. There IS life after cable TV. And I really do think you’re strong enough.
Thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald for the pic.