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View Full Version : Need advice: Stay with cable or try streaming


POWERBOMB
04-20-12, 07:23 PM
My situation: I have AT&T Uverse U300 + internet max and I love it. Except Iím paying $50 for the internet and $100 for everything else. I want to ďcut the cableĒ to save money but Iím new to streaming shows/movies online.

Iíve found that some websites offer their programs for viewing online. However, Iím also finding that some websites, like Discovery Channel, donít have the full episodes or require you to have a cable account, like Cartoon Network.

Iím looking at buying the Roku device and subscribing to Hulu+ and Netflix, but Iím concerned that Iíll miss out on a lot of my favorite shows (American Chopper, Deadliest Catch, Young Justice, Walking Dead, NFL/NBA/MLB sports, just to name a few).

Will Netflix and Hulu+ be the answer to my concerns, or should I just pay for the convenience of having it all in one nice, overpriced package? I would have thought that streaming online would be a lot farther along but right now it doesnít seem to be.

TheBigDave
04-20-12, 08:23 PM
In general, streaming is not going to give you the same content as cable. A Roku box with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu+ can provide you with an enormous amount of content that's worth watching. But it doesn't give you everything. You won't have local news or live sports. And the availability of current TV shows is fairly limited.

If you're willing to spend a little more, you can get more content. You can buy current TV shows at Amazon for around $1.99 per episode. Depending on your location, you might be able to use a TV antenna to get free local channels. And you can buy a subscription to MLB, NBA and NHL, but the Roku doesn't offer NFL.

Personally, I look at streaming as something that's used in addition to cable. But it's not a replacement.

POWERBOMB
04-20-12, 10:11 PM
Thanks for the info. I was able to find about 50 percent of the content I watch online, but really wanted the other 50 percent also. I appreciate your response.

The Bus
04-21-12, 08:24 AM
There's no contract with most of the big streaming services. Why not give Netflix and Hulu Plus a try for a month, and see how it works out for you?

POWERBOMB
04-21-12, 11:46 PM
I don't know what my hesitation with trying those two and taking them for a test drive. In my research of as many streaming sites as I can think of, those two were the most popular in terms of brand recognition. Yet at the same time they were also the two with as many complaints as praise. The problem a person like myself has is that most of the information written about streaming services is horribly outdated, many google searches are from 2010.

Speaking strictly about Hulu+, the search feature was at times deceiving or confusing. I would find the show I want to watch, but it was a last season or I had to go to another website to watch it. In the case of a show like the Walking Dead, I was instructed to sign up for an alert to let me know when it was available. I want these site to be more like CBS.com. I was able to have my show up and running in less than two minutes and it was the current season and most recent episode. It was so easy to use.

I want a lot of simplicity and right now I don't see it online. Not when I compare it to what I have now. I am really looking at saving money but I want to know what I'm getting into from people who have experience using these products. I know that sounds silly but it's the way I do things.

Lone Wolf
04-22-12, 12:10 PM
You may be able to get a better deal on your cable by cancelling. I decide to go the streaming route recently. I was looking to cut back on the amount of shows that I was watching, and my bill was constantly increasing. For cable and internet it had increased to $195 a month with time warner. This included hbo, cinemax, and showtime for the promotional price of $10. They had never removed the promotion so I had them for around 7 years for that price. I called and cancelled my cable and kept the internet serive for around $55 a month. The next day a csr called inquiring about my cancellation and what could be done to keep me as a customer. I told him to drop $100 off of my bill and I would stay. He did better, he dropped $120 from the bill bringing it to $75 for two years. I did lose my movie channels though.

I subscribed to hulu plus the day I originally cancelled my internet. I had access to the majority of the shows that I watch, but I never would have been happy with it. I just prefer to use the cable box. You can get a week of hulu+ free so I recommend at least checking it out. If you don't like it, cancel and it costs nothing.

Eddie W
04-22-12, 12:43 PM
I tried this for a few months & it's a huge pain in the ass to have to search out the shows you want to watch. With cable they just show up on your DVR. Plus the quality ranges from awful to just ok. You're rarely going to find HD cable quality with 5.1 sound via streaming. Shows like Mad Men and Walking Dead are available in pretty good quality via Amazon, but you certainly can't find everything you would on cable. ESPECIALLY the premium channel series.

It kind of changed my perspective on cable/satellite though. I realized I'm paying as much for quality & convenience as programming.

POWERBOMB
04-23-12, 11:35 AM
It kind of changed my perspective on cable/satellite though. I realized I'm paying as much for quality & convenience as programming.

I've been looking at this switch for a few months, and your comment has been my frame of thought for the last two weeks. I'll try Hulu+ for free, this will play thru my PS3, won't it?

DJariya
04-23-12, 12:10 PM
Like Dave said, streaming is a good supplement, but by no means a good permanent replacement, especially if you watch alot of TV.

Hulu Plus doesn't have everything and not everything can be streamed in HD on your XBox or BD Player. Alot of it is Web only.

Amazon Instant Video has alot of current network and cable shows, but again if you watch alot of TV (say 20-30 shows on cable and network give or take) paying $3 per episode (HD Quality) or $35 per season (w/ a small discount) can get very expensive.

I know some in this forum go the less legitimate route and I won't go into details, but alot of those sites (from what I've seen) have Malware, Spyware and Viruses and you are putting your computer at risk. PLus, as Eddie W said, the quality can range from poor to just barely watchable.

Heat
04-23-12, 11:10 PM
I get along just fine without cable or satellite. I use a UHF antenna to pick up about 14 local stations, all in high-definition, and the Roku for Netflix as well as some other Roku channels.

My monthly bill is $8, for Netflix.

PhantomStranger
04-24-12, 12:37 AM
Still impossible if you care about sports at all.

Heat
04-24-12, 08:21 PM
You still get the sports that are on broadcast TV.

DJariya
04-24-12, 08:27 PM
You still get the sports that are on broadcast TV.

College Hoops, National NBA (TNT, ESPN), Regionalized MLB, NBA, NHL are all on cable buddy. Broadcast TV usually only show sports on weekends.

I'm guessing your not a sports fan.

Heat
04-25-12, 12:24 AM
Broadcast TV has more than enough sports for me to watch.

What the original poster is finding out is that cable really does have content not easily available through free sources. Yes, that is the downside to dropping cable, you lose cable TV shows. As you (DJariya) mentioned, you can buy TV shows on iTunes or through Amazon but the cost will be around $30 for a normal season of whatever. But the upside is that you then "own" it and can watch it multiple times, if you wanted to and if you are only buying a series once every month or two you will still be "ahead" by dropping cable.

My experience was that sure, losing the National Geographic / Discovery / History Channel shows was not good but there is plenty of good programming on network TV, and Netflix has a ton of stuff. Especially if he gets HuluTv and maybe Amazon Prime, he will have plenty of things to choose from and his monthly bill will drop to between $8 and $23 (Netflix = $8 / month, Hulu = $8 / month, Amazon Prime = $79 per year)

Plus Vudu.com is a new streaming video site from Wal-Mart. You rent TV shows / movies, starting at 99 cents. I haven't seen a Roku channel for it, nor for tumtiki, another video site.

POWERBOMB
04-27-12, 10:04 AM
Well after weighing the options and a lot of going back and forth, I've decided to switch "cable" companies. I'll be spending less than I am now and keeping all the comforts of having my shows and DVR technology. I can see that it won't be long before cable tv as we know it will go the way of landline phones.

I want to pose one more question though: (this is for those of you who are streaming) have you had to deal with the cap limit proposal some internet companies are (considering) imposing? I don't know who has done this yet, but this did cross my mind initially when I heard my internet provider (AT&T) was looking into it.

kefrank
04-27-12, 12:19 PM
College Hoops, National NBA (TNT, ESPN), Regionalized MLB, NBA, NHL are all on cable buddy. Broadcast TV usually only show sports on weekends.

I'm guessing your not a sports fan.
+1

In the vast majority of cases, if you follow local sports teams, streaming offers nothing because of the absurd blackout restrictions of each league's streaming service. Cable/sat is literally the only option if you want to see a reasonable number of local games.

If you're just a casual fan of sports who really doesn't care about watching any one particular team on TV, then sure, OTA channels are just fine.

DJariya
04-27-12, 12:28 PM
+1

In the vast majority of cases, if you follow local sports teams, streaming offers nothing because of the absurd blackout restrictions of each league's streaming service. Cable/sat is literally the only option if you want to see a reasonable number of local games.

If you're just a casual fan of sports who really doesn't care about watching any one particular team on TV, then sure, OTA channels are just fine.

I'm a fan of the LA Lakers and LA Angels.

Angels have no OTA carrier this season. I believe 150 of their games will be cable only on FOX Sports West. The remaining 12 will be national games on ESPN or FOX.

Granted, I don't watch 150 Angel games a season, but I like to have that option to watch them on my TV when I turn it on and I'm not busy.

This past season was the Lakers last on KCAL 9 (OTA) and FOX Sports West. They are moving to cable only next season with Time Warner Sports (all road and away games not broadcasted OTA on ABC)

If you follow local teams, there is no way you can keep up with them via streaming or OTA. Not enough games are broadcasted via OTA.

TheBigDave
04-27-12, 06:26 PM
I want to pose one more question though: (this is for those of you who are streaming) have you had to deal with the cap limit proposal some internet companies are (considering) imposing? I don't know who has done this yet, but this did cross my mind initially when I heard my internet provider (AT&T) was looking into it.

I have Comcast and they have a 250GB cap. On the online account there's a usage meter that allows you to see your bandwidth. Usually I don't go anywhere near 250GB. This is the first month I'm going over, because I had to transfer a lot of huge files.

According to Comcast policy, they'll send you a warning each month you go over. If you get 3 warnings in a 6 month period, they close your account for 1 year. But you should look into what your internet provider's limit is, and what they'll do when you go over.

Anyways, whether you need to worry about a cap is going to depend on how much bandwidth they allow, and how much you're streaming. I've heard some caps could be as low as 50GB, others are around 150GB. If you're streaming 7-10 hours of HD content every day, that could be a problem.

I don't have any actual facts to back this up, so take it with a grain of salt. But I think the average 720p movie is around 2-4GB and the average 1080p video is 4-8GB. I think most streaming sites are using 720p for HD. I'm pretty sure both Hulu and Amazon use 720p. Netflix is capable of 1080p, but I think some stuff is still 720p. Other sites like Crunchyroll max out at 480p.

If it's a problem, I think you can limit Roku to 720p streams. And you can limit your streams in your Netflix account. But unless you have a really low cap, you should be able to stream a couple hours of HD every day without any problems.

The Bus
04-29-12, 06:45 AM
When I cut cable, I would either hear the game on radio, or go to a bar and see it.

I'm not really a "sports" guy though.

DJariya
04-29-12, 12:23 PM
When I cut cable, I would either hear the game on radio, or go to a bar and see it.


So your saying the frugal sports fan should drive up to their local sports bar everytime their is a game they want to watch and get shit faced as well? ;)

Imagine watching 82 Laker games and 150 Angel games, 150 Dodger games, I would become an alcoholic or really fat from eating all the greasy bar food.

Okay, my example is a little exagerrated, but being a Lakers fan and all their games are on cable next season, It would find it extremely incovenient to always have to drive to a sports bar to watch their games if I had financial issues and couldn't afford cable. I wouldn't be able to spend the $170 to watch it streaming live on NBA.com either since local games are blacked out.

dtcarson
04-29-12, 12:59 PM
I've had good luck when I've contacted the cable and either just asked for a deal, or told them I was considering cancelling.
That said, between an OTA antenna, Netflix and network websites, I am doing fine without cable. But even when I had it i didn't watch a lot of current shows, and I don't ever watch sports.
I will definitely admit that the convenience of cable/sat, esp with a DVR, does have a lot of value in itself.

The Bus
05-01-12, 06:40 AM
DJariya, you must have like sixteen pairs of eyes to see all this content. Bless you. :lol:

kefrank
05-01-12, 10:30 AM
When I cut cable, I would either hear the game on radio, or go to a bar and see it.

I'm not really a "sports" guy though.
Baseball is fine on the radio and football to a slightly lesser extent. But radio just doesn't do it for fast-moving sports like basketball and hockey.

The bottom line is, unless the leagues lift their streaming blackout restrictions, there are no alternatives to cable/sat for the heavy sports fan who want to regularly see their local teams.

gmerreighnjr
05-01-12, 06:37 PM
so i'm guessing P.L.A.Y.O.N. is frowned upon in these parts? i am a subscriber and have multiple channels that work like a DVR and discovering unusual shows at the same time and the quality isn't to bad....only problem is buffering issues but even that isn't horrible

DJariya
05-01-12, 06:48 PM
so i'm guessing P.L.A.Y.O.N. is frowned upon in these parts? i am a subscriber and have multiple channels that work like a DVR and discovering unusual shows at the same time and the quality isn't to bad....only problem is buffering issues but even that isn't horrible

I have a Lifetime license for Playon, but honestly IMO the streaming quality is spotty at best. Sometimes decent and most of the time horrible.

The material on Hulu that can't be streamed on Hulu Plus through your TV looks average at best through Playon. It's like watching an SD channel on your HDTV.

POWERBOMB
05-09-12, 10:40 AM
So here is where I stand: I called Directv but was turned off by their DVR capacity to only be able to record two shows at the same time. It doesn't matter if they are two HD shows, two SD shows or a mix, two was the most that can be recorded at the same time. This was a huge no-no as I have the capabilities to record 4 shows with my U-verse dvr at the same time (and that happens three times every week).
I was looking into Dish which has a DVR that can "record" up to six shows at one time plus their DVR has a 2tb hard drive so plenty of room for recordings. The hangup here is they just dropped AMC which has my favorite show "The Walking Dead" and it doesn't appear they will bring that back. I might change to Dish but it's 50-50 right now.
I'm going to stream some shows in the next few days to get a feel for it. It will be a hassle because my main TV doesn't have wifi capabilities so i'll have to look at something that can easily plug in and play.
Plus I can't "listen" to a game on the radio. It isn't the same. I would rather watch a game without sound than hear a game without visuals.

TheBigDave
05-09-12, 07:08 PM
I have a Lifetime license for Playon, but honestly IMO the streaming quality is spotty at best. Sometimes decent and most of the time horrible.

I agree. I've got the lifetime Playon too. But I don't use it much. Video quality isn't that good. The buffering can be annoying. And if you're watching anything with ads, it can be really glitchy. I like the service. Just wish the quality was better.

TheBigDave
05-10-12, 04:24 AM
There's a great article in the San Jose Mercury News about dropping cable TV for streaming services.

How my family cut cable TV service and lived to tell the tale (http://www.mercurynews.com/chris-obrien/ci_20522401/obrien-how-my-family-cut-cable-tv-service-streaming-comcast)

And there's a follow-up article with tips sent in by readers:

Cutting the cord: Readers bring flood of tips, questions and high-fives (http://www.siliconbeat.com/2012/05/08/cutting-the-cord-readers-bring-flood-of-tips-questions-and-high-fives/)

POWERBOMB
05-10-12, 10:51 AM
There's a great article in the San Jose Mercury News about dropping cable TV for streaming services.

How my family cut cable TV service and lived to tell the tale (http://www.mercurynews.com/chris-obrien/ci_20522401/obrien-how-my-family-cut-cable-tv-service-streaming-comcast)

And there's a follow-up article with tips sent in by readers:

Cutting the cord: Readers bring flood of tips, questions and high-fives (http://www.siliconbeat.com/2012/05/08/cutting-the-cord-readers-bring-flood-of-tips-questions-and-high-fives/)

Wow, that was a lot of good info. I'm interested in finding out more about TIVO. I thought that TIVO had to be connected to a satellite or cable provider and "acted" as a supercharged DVR. Play on TV sound intresting also. Thanks for the links.

POWERBOMB
05-18-12, 01:30 PM
So I've spent some time with various streaming sites and well, it's really disappointing. First, most sites do not transmit in HD. Second, the quality from sites like PlayOn was terrible. Netflix was interesting but lack of parental controls made it a no-go in my household. I never quite grasped any sense of the difference between Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant. I mean, if I pay $80 for an annual membership, shouldn't I have access to everything on Instant and not have to pay for certain tv episodes?

This is really disappointing because my cable bill just increased by $11 in one month but streaming seems light years away from being competitive to cable. I had high hopes but all in all this venture stunk.

DJariya
05-18-12, 01:39 PM
I never quite grasped any sense of the difference between Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant. I mean, if I pay $80 for an annual membership, shouldn't I have access to everything on Instant and not have to pay for certain tv episodes?


RE: Amazon Prime

Your paying $79 per year to have free 2-day shipping or $3.99 overnight. The programming is just a bonus and it's pretty much older catalogue stuff.

You still have to pay for Amazon Instant programming that covers currently airing network and cable programming. So say you watch 10 shows on TNT and 10 on USA, that will run you $3 per episode in HD or $30-35 per season if they offer a discount.

TheBigDave
05-18-12, 03:49 PM
Netflix was interesting but lack of parental controls made it a no-go in my household. I never quite grasped any sense of the difference between Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant. I mean, if I pay $80 for an annual membership, shouldn't I have access to everything on Instant and not have to pay for certain tv episodes?


Netflix has parental controls. But there's only one profile for streaming accounts. I've heard a couple people say they have two accounts, one for parents and one for the kids. Apparently, they're working on adding individual profiles for streaming. But I haven't heard anything in the past couple months.

Amazon Instant Video offers new release movies and current TV shows. How can they give that away for $80 a year? Like DJariya said, Amazon Prime is about free shipping. The Prime Streaming is just a bonus. It's a loss-leader to get customers to rent new release videos and buy a Kindle Fire to watch them on.

orangecrush
05-21-12, 04:10 PM
We haven't had cable for nearly 9 years now. Until Hulu came along, we mostly just torrented the shows we wanted to watch. Now, we just watch hulu, Netflix and will buy seasons of shows that we have to watch right away or aren’t on those services (Doctor Who and Justified mainly) on Itunes. I would just test out how well you can get along with hulu and netflix. If you are going to stay completely legal, and are currently spending $50/mo for cable, you can get hulu + neflix and still have ~$34/mo to buy any other shows that aren't on those two that you want to watch. If you are a big sports fan, you are going to have a harder time. I think that the NFL and MLB both charge hundreds of dollars for their online season passes.

kefrank
05-23-12, 11:48 AM
I think that the NFL and MLB both charge hundreds of dollars for their online season passes.
The cost aside, these services are useless for many people as an alternative to the broadcasts for local sports teams due to the absurd blackout restrictions.

orangecrush
05-24-12, 12:50 PM
The cost aside, these services are useless for many people as an alternative to the broadcasts for local sports teams due to the absurd blackout restrictions.They have blackout rules for their own paid services? You have got to be kidding. How many regular season MLB games that aren't NY or Boston normally sellout?

DJariya
05-24-12, 12:56 PM
They have blackout rules for their own paid services? You have got to be kidding. How many regular season MLB games that aren't NY or Boston normally sellout?

If the game is already broadcasted locally (OTA or cable) it's blacked out on MLB, NBA or NHL subscription service.

The whole point of the subscription service is to be able to watch out of market games.