I just opened up my cable bill for last month, and the damages come to a little over $250. Yeah, I have too many TVs in too many rooms, and too many of them with the cable company's DVRs. But still, I'm paying a lot of money to the cable company -- especially when you consider I could get most of the shows I like for a lot cheaper over the Internet.
Cutting the cable company cord is an appealing proposition. All I need to do is connect a computer or network media player (like the Apple TV box) to each of my TVs, and then I can stream television programming (and movies, of course) over the Internet. But where do I find my favorite shows online?
The best site for finding TV shows on the Web is Hulu. The basic Hulu service is free, and you'll find a lot of current and classic programs there. You may need to subscribe to Hulu Plus, however, to find all the programs you want. You'll pay $7.99/month for Hulu Plus, but then you watch all the shows you want, on as many devices as you want. It's a pretty good deal.
You can find more TV programs on Netflix, which also costs $7.99/month. Although, to be honest, Netflix is more about movies; see if it has any of your favorite shows before you sign up.
Finally, you can watch a lot of shows for free from the networks' own websites. Whether you're talking NBC and CBS or The Food Network and The Hub, just about every major broadcast and cable network has a variety of programming available for your streaming pleasure. These are my go-to sites, but you'll find more streaming on Amazon and other sites.
The availability of all this online programming doesn't mean that everyone needs to ditch their cable company, though. Personally, we're still a cable household -- even though we supplement our cable with a lot of Web-based programming. We stick with cable primarily for our kids, who are addicted to Nickelodeon, Sprout, and Disney Jr. While some of this programming is available online, a lot of it isn't. Right now, it's an easy thing to switch on the TV and punch up one of the kids network on the cable box. Instant babysitting!
We also like cable's on-demand programming (the free stuff especially), and the ease of recording shows with our combo cable box/DVR. We tend to view Internet-based programming as giving us more stuff to watch, not just replacing our cable programming.
And here's another thing. If you think your cable bill is too high, explore your options with other cable providers -- or give your cable company a call and threaten to disconnect. You'd be surprised how many different packages they have available that you may not have heard of. Some cable companies will even cut a deal for long-time customers, especially if you are indicating you might soon become an ex-customer. If you can knock a few dollars off your monthly bill, it may be worth it to stay.
As for us, we'll continue to be active customers and ensure we're getting the best deal available. But even at $250 a month, cable is worth keeping in our household.