Cutting Costs on Home Entertainment

(This is for Jeff…)

Here’s the deal: Cable and satellite TV are becoming too expensive. Prices are going up and that monthly charge is becoming a rediculously huge chunk of the bills. When my TV bill was increased a while ago, I realized that it was twice my electric bill and four times my phone bill. That’s entirely too much for something that is not necessary, unlike heat, food, or rent.

Now that video rental stores around the country have closed and rural movie theaters are being forced by the industry to either upgrade to digital equipment (a $60,000 requirement) or close, home entertainment is becoming more popular. For rural folks, the traditional satellite or cable televisions systems are disproportionately expensive, especially after those teaser rates have expired. And you’re stuck with a two year contract.

If you have broadband internet, however, you have new ways to get your daily dose of movies, TV shows, and other fun video entertainment. You can stream them. There are a number of devices that will capture online channels and play them on your television. Many, if not most of these channels are free and there aren’t any contracts.

Here’s what I did: I lowered my satellite TV subscription to the lowest level, just local channels and basic cable. Then I purchased a Roku box from Amazon. (The Roku 2XS. I wouldn’t go any cheaper than that one.) I plugged it into my television, signed onto the Roku program, and I suddenly had access to 500 channels. I decided to pay for Netflix ($8) and Hulu ($7.99) but everything else was free. Most content is also free of commercials, which is a welcome relief. Eventually, I may eliminate the satellite altogether as more content is streamed online.

Other devices also stream online content, including Apple TV and almost all blue ray players. They don’t have as many channels as the Roku does, however. Also, there are some disadvantages to streaming TV online, namely, the channels are not the same as what is on cable. If you must watch a certain show as soon as it’s broadcast, say, sports, for instance, you may not be able to do that. The flip side is that certain shows are only available online.

Now, go save yourself some money!