How to get programming after you cut the cord on cable and save money (Part 2)


In the first part of this series on getting rid of cable, “How to Dump Cable or Pay TV and Get TV Programming to Save Money (Part 1)” I covered how to get your transition going and get all the basic TV stations without CableTV.  I talked about making the transition to an over-the-air antenna (OTA).  I talked about the different options available to you, how to determine the type of antenna you’ll need, determine the channels you’ll get, and more.  If you’re skeptical about transitioning, just remember that with an antenna you are getting better video and audio than you do with Cable or Satellite services.  Those services often compress (reduce data quality) of the audio and video for channels to be able to deliver it through their services.

In the second part of this series, I’m going to talk about supplementing your digital antenna service with additional programming and on-demand movies and TV shows.  Today, there are lots of options available to cord cutters so that you can save money and still keep up-to-date on your favorite shows and programming.
Let’s assume that you followed our advice in the first article and you are now getting the standard channels such as ABC, CBS,  CW, FOX, ION, PBS, and more.  The next step would be to add an Internet-based service that would deliver additional TV programming and movies right to your home.  Some of these services have either a monthly fee or a per-program purchase fee associated with them. 
The services you would consider include the following:
  1. Your Local Library: I’ll bet you’re surprised to see your local library listed.  However it’s probably one of the best and simplest choices for helping you cut the cord.  The overwhelming majority of people don’t realize that their local library is a huge source of entertainment, TV, and movie content.  You and check out some of the latest movies on DVD or Blu-ray and check out entire seasons of TV shows.  You also have available to you kids programming, documentaries, classic movies, musicals, operas, concerts, and more.  When dealing with the library you can check out selections in person, online, or request inter-library loans for content your neighborhood library doesn’t have immediately in stock. The Bottom Line: Price: Free.  Selection: Limited
  2. Network’s Web Site: All of the major TV networks now make their programs available on their web sites for a limited time.  Programs are posted somewhere between the following day to eight days after they air on TV.  The full TV shows (plus a few commercials) are available for several weeks before they are normally taken down.  For example, if you want to watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D you can do so from the ABC web site here:  The Bottom Line: Price: Free.  Selection: Limited
  3. Netflix: Netflix is the king of streaming television programs and movies.  Netflix arguably has the largest and most expansive selection of content available.  There are thousands and thousands of programs to chose from and it’s one of the few services available that will give you the option of streaming your programming and also getting DVD or Blu-ray discs delivered to your door.  Netflix charges a monthly fee for their streaming service.  Adding DVD and Blu-ray delivery adds a few more dollars to the monthly service. The Bottom Line: PriceVaries.  SelectionHuge
  4. iTunes: iTunes is a free software download for your Mac or Windows computer and is available on all Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).  Unlike Netflix, iTunes has a pay-as-you-go model.  There’s no monthly fee and you only pay for the content you want. If you’re one of those people who wants movies and TV shows as soon as possible then you’ll love iTunes.  iTunes will have TV shows available the day after they air. iTunes will also have tough-to-get or exclusive cable-only hit shows and programming like Game of Thrones.  Programs are normally available at FullHD (1080p) and surround sound audio.  Movies likewise are usually available on iTunes the day of their release. A benefit of using iTunes is that once you purchase content, it’s available to you from any compatible device.   Price: $1.99-$19.99 per show/movie depending on rent vs. purchase.  Selection: Huge
  5. Hulu: Hulu is a service similar to Netflix in that it is a streaming service.  Hulu has a heavy focus on TV shows and programming and provides those TV shows shortly after they air.  It’s perfect for a person who watches a ton of TV and wants full access to lots of shows as.  There’s a free (Hulu) and paid version (Hulu Plus).  Neftlix, on the other hand, will normally get TV shows only after they hit DVD or Blu-ray.  As you might expect, the free version has limited access to certain programming and the paid version gives you access to everything.  Price: free for limited selection and monthly fee for full access.  Selection: Large
  6. Vudu: Vudu is a pay-as-you-go like iTunes.  Vudu offers a huge selection of movies and TV shows that you can purchase or rent.  Vudu has a neat feature enabling you to convert physical-copy DVDs or Blu-Rays you already own into authorized digital copies that you’ll be able to access via Vudu.  Conversion prices are $1.00/disc for standard definition and $2.00/disc for HD conversion.  If you convert 10 or more discs you get a 50% discount.  Vudu also has some of the best-quality streaming available with their HDX format.  Vudu’s HDX is the closest you’ll get to Blu-ray quality in the streaming services. Price: pay as you go.  Selection: Large
  7. Amazon Instant Video: If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you have instant access to a fairly large catalog of movies and TV shows.  Amazon has developed a hybrid pricing model that tries to provide greater value to Amazon Prime subscribers.  Instead of charging a monthly fee like Netflix or an exclusively pay-per-download-model like iTunes, Amazon unlocks a selection of its library for free to Prime subscribers.  The remaining content in the digital library is then available for rent or purchase.  This is an extremely appealing service to people who are already taking advantage of Amazon’s Prime services.  You can also use the service if you are not a Prime subscriber, but you’ll need to pay for content available to Prime subscribers.  Comparing Amazon to Netflix, while there is overlap between the content, I find Netflix to have a much large catalog of content.  In addition, I find the quality of Netflix’s content to be better.  Amazon advertises having tens of thousands of titles available, but I’ve found many titles to be irrelevant.  Amazon Streaming is available on any mobile device via the Amazon streaming app as well as computers. Price: Included with Amazon Prime and pay as you go.  Selection: Huge
  8. Other Services: A number of other services are popping up that cater to a specific or niche group of users or content.  Some of those services you may want to keep on your radar include Crackle and UltraViolet.
As you can see, there are lots of options available for accessing a vast library of content once you cut the cord on cable.  If you purchase content through iTunes, you can even get access to premium cable-only content without paying the high monthly cable bill.  In part three of this series, I’ll cover the different device options available to you that