Early on it became apparent that it would be nice to have basic television available.
Since June 12, 2009, full-power television stations nationwide have been broadcasting in a digital format. (DTV.gov)Meaning that basic television from ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. is available in High Definition. To receive these stations we purchased a digital antenna. After some research including checking the DTV Reception Maps I determined the Terk HDTV Indoor Amplified HD Antenna to be sufficient for our needs.
In our home this antenna gets great reception. The antenna is primarily used to watch news broadcasts and the Today Show. It has also come in handy for the occasional sports broadcast. The quality is as clear if not clearer than the basic stations provided on cable and renders at 1080i.
Between Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Amazon Instant Video, Redbox and Apple TV we have access to plenty of content. We pay subscription fees for Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora, but at $8.55, $7.99 and $3.00 the total cost of $19.54 is nominal. Amazon Instant Video, Redbox and Apple TV gives us access to current run television and movies we cannot access via our streaming services. How much each costs depends on how many movies or shows we rent/buy in a given month.
|Service||How we use it|
|Netflix||Movies, documentaries and previous season TV shows|
|Hulu Plus||Current run TV shows|
|Pandora||Streaming a huge selection of music|
|Amazon||Purchase current run TV shows and rent the occasional movie|
|Redbox||Rent new release movies|
|Apple TV (iTunes)||Rent movies|
Many shows which are not available via a dedicated app are available from the web. Via Apple AirPlay we can easily stream content from our iPads to our Apple TV. Meaning that anything we can watch on our iPads we can watch on our televisions. With AirPlay being added to the latest Mac OS X revision we will be able to watch anything on the internet on our Apple TV.
There are a few shows that are only available to us via purchase. Right now we are buying content from Amazon Instant Video. We pay for How I Met Your Mother, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, In Plain Sight (for obvious reasons) and Mad Men. That said all of the past seasons for these shows were recently added to Netflix so we may reevaluate how imperative it is for us to watch the current season.
Aside from what we can purchase, Amazon Instant Video continues to increase in value. The service is quickly adding many free options for Amazon Prime subscribers. If you are not familiar, Amazon Prime is a subscription service which allows you to receive Amazon orders in two days, borrow one free Kindle book a month, and stream an ever increasing library of free media content. Since the question of price is already in your mind Amazon Prime only costs $6.67 a month, but you pay for it via an upfront fee of $79.99.
Without the ease of cable stations sports are still difficult to consume, but if I really cared I could purchase streaming passes for all of the professional sports leagues. College sports are still the most difficult to watch with via streaming. However, I still maintain an Xbox Live subscription (got a great deal for a year's subscription at Christmas time) and use it to watch some college basketball. In fact, a few non-conference Lobo basketball games were streamable via ESPN3 on the Xbox. Even better in two instances the games were shown in HD whereas the local Comcast feed was not. When we cannot stream a Lobo game we listen to it on the radio, go to a friends house, sports bar or skip it. Outside of Lobo basketball sports are not a huge deal to us so our inability to easily consume sports content is inconsequential.
Even with all of that said slowly but surely it seems that sports are becoming more convenient to stream: the 2012 Super Bowl was streamed live for the first time and we are watching the 2012 Tour De France via the NBC iPad app. The app provides all kinds of statistics and information about the riders. While not perfect at $14.99 it's still a pittance to pay when compared to a full blown cable subscription.
While reading this you may not have picked up on the number of devices that we use to consume streaming content: That number stands at seven devices:
- Apple TV
- iPad / iPhone
- Blu-ray Player
The way we consume content varies between devices and is not always the same even on the same device. To Microsoft's credit they continue to add apps and services to the Xbox which make it our go to device for streaming. The variety of ways to watch TV is not a huge deal but does require consideration each time you want to watch a program. With cutting the cord there is no "turn on, tune in, drop out." Even with the minor inconveniences we are still incredibly satisfied with our decision.