Alternatives to Cable
Recently Mrs. Mula wrote an article about the Mula household
cancelling cable. This seemingly simple task was something that I honestly struggled with for nearly a year. I knew we really weren’t watching cable much. In fact, we had a cable box in our bedroom that we paid for, but never used. Our DVR was usually at capacity – filled with recorded shows we never actually watched. Enough was enough – we finally canceled!
One of the questions our reader’s asked – what are we doing instead? I wish I could say that we’ve given up on TV completely and have developed some new found passion. But alas even we like to settle in and veg out for an hour or two before bed once in a while. I will note that we are both reading a bit more, but honestly that might be driven by starting this blog and wanting to be more educated about certain topics. Let’s just pretend we leveled up as people!
So what are we doing and what do we recommend as cable alternatives? Read on below in no particular order…
Movies & TV
We’ve had a streaming only Netflix subscription for some time now and do enjoy the movie selection and original content. Personally I think Netflix has done a nice of job of building out a collection of original content. Although, I must admit that Bird Box made me want to throw my TV out the window. Let’s just say if you want to recreate it at home – just tie on a blindfold and wander around outside for 90 minutes. They did redeem themselves with the 80’s throwback Stranger Things — a must watch if you love 80’s Science Fiction.
Netflix seems to rotate their third party licensed content frequently, which is nice because this means we can usually find something new to watch. Or something worth watching again.
Netflix pricing as of April 2019 is as follows:
|Plan||Price||Number of screens||Resolution|
|Premium (streaming)||$16||4||HD + Ultra HD|
Personally, we have the Standard Streaming package which sets us back $13 per month. We picked this because we want to be able to stream movies in high definition (HD). Also you can stream two TVs at a time, unnecessary for us, but a nice perk for a family. The total cost per year is $156 plus tax. So far, we get a reasonable value as long as the prices do not continue to climb faster then inflation.
As Mrs. Mula mentioned several times in other articles, we use Amazon quite a bit to save money on various everyday items so we are prime subscribers. Prime as you’re probably already aware gets you “Free” two day shipping. I put the free shipping in quotes because it’s not really free if you’re paying $119 a year for it now is it? Some may not realize you also get access to Amazon’s Video Service which does have a fairly sizable catalog of movies and original Amazon content. We’ve really enjoyed several of the originals including the Jack Ryan series. Amazon Prime also bundles in a light version of Amazon music.
Spotify, which now includes Hulu
I’ve been a long time subscriber to Spotify – I am a huge music fan. I always said I would give up on buying CD’s or digital albums if a service ever came out that let me have access to nearly everything. Spotify fits the bill and I’ve been a happy customer for several years now. Recently Spotify announced that as part of the premium no ads plan for $9.99 per month, you also get access to Hulu. One note, the bundled version of Hulu does include commercials but they do have an extensive collection of content including popular TV shows that were once only available on the large networks.
This one can be easy to solve or hard depending on where you live and what sports you’re interested in. The one issue you will run into with some of the Sports leagues is network blackouts. Often times if you are in a team’s hometown the streaming service might blackout the game so be sure to read the fine print before signing up.
Most of the major sports leagues have a streaming app:
- Major League Baseball (MLB)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- National Hockey League (NHL)
- National Football League (NFL) – The NFL got in bed with DirectTV years ago so if you live in the United States you can’t stream live games. You can watch the games after they finish and you can watch highlights using the Red Zone channel. This is unlikely to change because the NFL renewed their agreement with DirectTV until 2022.
There is hope! You should be able to watch football in your hometown by using an over-the-air HD antenna. Here are a couple I recommend:
What streaming device do you use?
This question has come up a few times as well. I am a big fan of the Amazon FireTV and have been using an older model for quite some time. It handles Netflix, Amazon and all of the sports streaming apps are available as well. Additionally there are a ton of other “channel” apps you can download that offer free (with ads) content.
Here are the links to a couple of our favorite streaming devices:
Some newer TVs also have Smart Apps built in so you may not need additional streaming devices. We just found a deal for a small TV we use in our home gym that includes Amazon FireTV, so no need to buy an additional streaming device. Depending on what applications you choose, you might already have what you need to get online!
If you’ve already cut the cable cord, what are you using to access your favorite content? Please comment below and as always please do share our articles on Facebook, Twitter and any of your other favorite social media sites!
Check out Mrs. Mula’s original article Cancelling Cable highlighting the financial impact our decision has had on our budget.