I remember the late 1990’s well, when I ordered cable TV for the first time. It was one of those deals where they said they would be there “between 8.00am and 1.00pm”. By 6.00pm, they still hadn’t arrived, and when they finally turned up 2 days later, they screwed everything up.
Back then, the cable TV companies had us by the short and curlies because they knew there was nowhere else for people to go for their TV entertainment. They would package up the good channels with 50 other totally crap ones (the “Watching Paint Dry!” channel), and then charge a fortune.
But now in 2015, it is all changing, and not in a good way for the cable TV companies. The Internet is bringing in cheap entertainment by the barrow-load, with Netflix and Amazon leading the charge. Personally I’m laughing my butt off. Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?
Requiring a VPN set to a British IP address, BBC iPlayer has some great quality programming on it. Whether it’s dramas, thrillers, documentaries, comedies, current affairs, movies, music, and many others, you are likely to find something worthwhile – iPlayer currently has ten channels.
If you’re a news junkie, then you can take your pick from the Internet.
The best by far, but with a heavy UK bias, is BBC News 24. You need to have a VPN set to a British IP address (Tunnelbear works wonders for me), and as the name implies, you get rolling 24 hour uninterrupted coverage. Another UK site is Sky News, and again, a VPN is required. This really isn’t an issue, as you can get an unlimited VPN service for as low as $5 per month.
Netflix is probably the most well-known of the movie and TV show streaming sites. From $7.99 a month, you can watch an unlimited number of movies and shows from Netflix’s extensive library. The latest releases can only be obtained on the slightly more expensive DVD delivery service, but there is still plenty to choose from in the streaming section.
TV show-wise, you have all the old favorites such as Star Trek, Law & Order, and NCIS. But Netflix also has many other categories such as cartoons, comedies, documentaries, and music.
At the rate at which new stuff is added, you could spend your entire lifetime watching everything that Netflix has to offer. And what’s even better is that Netflix is available widely outside the US, so no VPN is required.
Amazon Instant Video / Amazon Prime Video
There are two separate offerings when it comes to streaming video – a service for Prime members, and a service for non-Prime members. The Prime service costs $99 a year, and one of the perks of Prime is unlimited free watching of “thousands of movies and TV shows”. This means that not every movie and TV show is free, but you have a very large selection to choose from.
If you look at the screenshot above, you will see that each episode for the ordinary working-class Amazon viewers costs a couple of bucks. But for the Prime One-Percenters? Seasons 1-3 free of charge. Yep. Free.
Hulu is one of the most popular options when it comes to streaming movies and TV shows, but non-US residents can’t crack it with a VPN. Hulu automatically detects when you are using a proxy to access the site, and assumes that if you are doing so, then it must be for nefarious purposes.
Hulu has loads of good stuff available, such as Family Guy, South Park, Law & Order, Homeland…hell, they even have Seinfeld for all you oldies out there, nostalgic for the 1990’s!
After a week’s free trial, Hulu will cost you $7.99 a month.
I love HBO, as it makes some high quality kick-ass programming. I am a regular viewer of “Real Time with Bill Maher” every Friday night, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” every Sunday night, and in the past I have watched stuff such as True Detective, John Adams, The Sopranos, and yes, Game of Thrones. In fact, most people probably sign up for HBO just for Game of Thrones.
After a 30 day free trial, HBO Now will cost you $14.99 a month. So, one of the priciest options. But it’s the Game of Thrones channel, people! What are you hesitating for? Are you not entertained? Oh wait, that’s a quote from “Gladiator”.
Showtime is another channel which is gaining esteem in my eyes, after it started the excellent and unbeatable “Homeland”, “The Tudors”, and “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States”. You can see the shows they produce here, and there are a wide selection to choose from. And don’t forget the movies, sports, and much more on offer.
After a 30 day free trial, Showtime will cost you $10.99 a month. However, after a 7 day free trial, you can bundle Showtime with Hulu and get both for a total of $16.98 a month.
CBS is an absolute beast. Think of all your favorite TV shows and you can be guaranteed that it is probably on CBS. The Big Bang Theory, CSI, Criminal Minds, The Good Wife….and for all you 1990’ers watching Seinfeld, you can also sign up for CBS and get Cheers, and Frasier!
This is a channel which will become even more popular when the highly anticipated “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” premieres soon. As it is, if you subscribe to CBS, you are going to get access to a lot of very popular mainstream shows (6,500 episodes, according to the site).
And get this, after one week’s free trial, CBS only costs $5.99 a month! A bargain!
I’ve left one of the best ones for last. For $20 a month (the basic package), it is the most expensive of all the options, but when you see what you get, you will see that it would be the best $20 a month you ever spent, if TV is your thing. Then you can add on extras for more money (or not, if it doesn’t interest you). Did you ever get this freedom of choice from the cable companies? When hell freezes over, most likely.
Here is the basic $20 package :
So, definitely a channel for the news and sports junkies. AMC is the Breaking Bad channel. Adult Swim isn’t what it sounds like – it has Family Guy, and Robot Chicken. Oh and it has the History Channel, or as I like to call it, the Hitler Channel.
Then you can add on extras, such as HBO, more sports channels, or Spanish language channels.
So, Do You Still Want Cable?
So, after seeing all of the above, give me one good reason why you should sign up for traditional old-fashioned cable TV. Come on, just one reason….the comments below await you.
Image Credits: Movie Night At Home by Sean Locke Photography via Shutterstock