Let’s Figure Out Your New Content Solution
It’s time to build out your content attack plan. What TV shows do you want to watch and how do you most cost effectively gain access to them?
Below, we’ve laid out the different options available to solve your content needs. Everyone’s specific needs will be unique, so the package that works best for me may not be the best package for you.
By the end of this page you should be able to:
- Identify a content solution that will solve for over 80% of your content needs. The goal is to find the most cost effective way to meet 80% of what you watch on TV every month. Maybe you want to go for 90%, or even 95%, but you may have to make few small sacrifices to really decrease your monthly content costs.
- Determine the cost of your new monthly content plan. If your willing to sacrifice just a bit on your end, there is a high probability that you’ll save at least $50 per month compared to a full-service cable or satellite bill. If you’re even more flexible, with your content needs, you can probably save even more than that!
Let’s walk through each of the content types below steps and add up what your new TV package will cost!
Local Broadcast Channels
Monthly recurring cost = $0.00
Includes: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS
Yes, that’s right, this one is free. Or almost free. You will have a one-time cost, as you’ll have to purchase a HD antenna to get access to the broadcast channels, but after that there is no recurring cost.
There are several different HD antenna options for any budget and living situation. Just keep reading, and we’ll take you to our HD Antenna Resource Guide.
So repeat after me, “I will no longer pay cable or satellite companies to get access to FREE, local HD broadcast channels.”
Basic Cable Channels
Monthly Recurring Cost = $20 (for Sling TV package)
Includes: ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, Food Network, TBS, CNN
Here is where you may need to make some sacrifices, but hear me out. The newest content package on the market is the $20 per month Sling TV package. This is a first of its kind package that gives you access to about a dozen popular cable channels with a low monthly subscription of $20. Sports heavyweight ESPN and ESPN2 are the headline of the package, but it also includes a handful of other popular channels such as CNN, HGTV, Food Network, TBS, TNT and about a half dozen other channels.
For some folks, this takes care of your basic cable pleasures. ESPN, HGTV, Food Network, and CNN should solve for almost 50% of the average American’s cable viewing. Yes, a few networks are NOT currently part of the Sling TV package, (CNBC, A&E, E!), but this goes a long way towards satisfying a fair amount of your basic cable needs for a fraction of the price.
Sling TV is something that I have been using for several months and I’m very satisfied with the product. They’re continuing to add new channels and also have additional add-on packages you can purchase for an extra $5 per month. There are also no contracts with Sling TV so you can cancel at any time.
If you don’t watch much LIVE basic cable then you can probably actually skip this step. Most movies and/or TV series on these channels can be had via other streaming options listed below.
Premium Cable Channels
Monthly Recurring Cost = $15 for HBO Now (only on Apple TV), TBD for Showtime Anytime (2015 launch), TBD for other networks/channels
Currently, one of the largest drawbacks from pulling the plug on cable, is losing access to the premium movie channels. Most premium providers (Showtime, Cinemax, The Movie Channel) do NOT currently offer stand alone access to their content. This means that without cable or satellite package, you can’t access their networks. You are out of luck, Chuck!
However, HBO is in the process of completely flipping this dynamic on it’s head! HBO recently signed an exclusive deal with Apple TV, to offer streaming access to HBO Now directly through an Apple TV device. This is a ground breaking deal in the premium movie network space and in all likelihood means that others will soon follow HBO’s footsteps.
While HBO is the only premium network offering stand alone access today, Showtime plans to announce a similar package sometime in 2015 and we expect all the other premium providers to quickly follow suit.
Another option in this space is to skip purcashing any stand alone premium subscriptions and just wait a bit until your favorite program on HBO or Showtime is available on larger streaming content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, etc… This is the solution that we use today. We’re huge Homeland fans, but have never had a Showtime subscription. We just wait until Homeland is released on Netflix and watch it there!
Monthly Recurring Cost = $0 (part of Sling TV package)
So this was the biggest reason it took me so long to pull the plug from cable. This category is 90% ESPN/ESPN2 and 10% all the other various sports networks (ESPNU, Fox Sports, NBC Sports). If you don’t dig the sports scene then feel free to move on to the next section. If you’ve thought you could never pull the plug from cable and still have access to ESPN, then keep reading.
There are two ways to gain access to ESPN:
- If you have your internet (or TV) through certain providers, you actually have access to ESPN through your basic web browser or though the ESPN app on a tablet or smartphone (check their website for latest list of providers). This option may not help you cut the cord.
- The other option is by subscribing to Sling TV. The great thing about this, is if you signed up for Sling TV above, this option is already covered! And, for $5 more dollars a month you can obtain access to ESPNU, SEC Network and few other sports channels.
Having an option to access ESPN without having a traditional cable/satellite subscription is a game changer. ESPN’s announcement to partner with Sling TV in early 2015, may just be the first domino falling in the demise of Big Cable.
Monthly Recurring Cost = $9 (for Netflix), $8 for (Hulu Plus), $0 (for Amazon Instant Video – if Amazon Prime Member)
Streaming access to movies or television series over the internet has quickly become the most important piece of a new content strategy. You have several different options at this step and you can get away with as little as one provider, though some may chose two or more. It really depends on your specific needs.
- Netflix – Without a doubt, Netflix’ distribution platform is more advanced and mature than any other provider, and they flat out have the best selection of content. For $9 a month you have access to it all, and just need some type of internet ready device (internet ready TV, gaming console, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV) to stream the content.
- Amazon Instant Video – At FreeTvReview.com we’re Amazon PRIME members. We have the membership because we use Amazon to buy almost everything, but the cool part of that subscription is we get free access to Amazon Instant Video. While their content library isn’t as diverse as Netflix, they have a ton of great blockbuster movies, syndicated TV shows and Amazon original content. Knowing this option is free for people already signed up for Amazon Prime, it’s a great addition to your streaming content porfolio
- Hulu Plus – if you want almost instant access to your favorite tv shows on broadcast television (or basic cable), Hulu Plus is the place to go. For $8 a month you have access to stream many current season episdoes for your favorite television series’. While this is an advantage over Netflix and Amazon Intant video, Hulu Plus does come with some annoying commericals, which we aren’t huge fans of.
There are several other streaming content providers, but the top three are without a doubt Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The great news is, in today’s wired world, most good television shows are available to stream from one of these content providers. If you don’t have a dying need to watch a show as soon as it premieres, any mix of these subscription content providers is a much more cost effective way to still watch “your shows,” without sticking you with a big monthly cable bill.
All in you could spend less than $10 per month or you could spend upwards of $40-$50 per month on this category. For me, I’m currently utilizing Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (because I’m already signed up for Amazon Prime). If I didn’t have Amazon Prime, I would probably also sign up for Hulu.
Either way, these streaming programs allow you access to almost any content you need, for peanuts per month, compared to what you once paid your cable or satellite company.
Other Free Online Video Content
Monthly Recurring Cost = $0
What most folks don’t realize, is every day more and more content from content providers is available for free online. Maybe you have an internet ready TV or maybe you have a tablet or smartphone. Either way, you may be able to your favorite website and actually watch their channel online for free.
Bloomberg TV is a great example of this. If you have a streaming device, you can download the Bloomberg TV app for free and immediately stream the Bloomberg TV channel (you can also access directly on their website).
While the majority of networks/channels don’t offer free LIVE streaming access for free, this is a growing trend in the industry and something we expect to increase over time. This is another factor that will allow people like you and me to cut the cable cord once and for all!
What Does Your New Content Package Cost?
Ok. It’s time to determine the cost of your new content package. We’ve gone through a ton of different content options, and hopefully you’ve identified the specific pieces you need to access your favorite shows at a fraction of your current monthly costs.
In today’s world you’re probably paying at least $100 per month for access to all this content (and an additional few hundred channels that you’ve never watched before).
In the future you’ll be paying a fraction of that price and only paying for content you actually watch!
My new monthly content costs? $29. $20 for Sling TV and $9 for Netflix. That’s it!
Hey Cable Company. Do you like apples? We cut the cable cord and our content costs are now $29 per month. How do you like them apples?
On to the HD Antenna
Ok. Now we have our content picked out and we know how much its going to cost per month. There are really two main steps left. The next step is to find a HD antenna for our local channels. Then we just need to find out what type of device we’re going to use to stream this content. And then we’re done.
So let’s keep going. We’re almost there!