Do you rememer when TV used to be free? When I was a child, we never paid for TV service. I think we first got cable TV when I was a teen and suddenly we had something like 40 channels. Now...well...let's just say our entertainment is limitless.
Are you still paying for TV? According to CNN, the average person is paying over $75 a month for cable/satellite TV with increases expected to be 5% each year. Why? Because so many people have found out about free Internet TV.
Two years ago we finished out our $100 a month contract with DirecTV and canceled the service. We now watch some shows on our TV using a laptop. All we need is high-speed Internet which costs us less than $40 a month (our phone is also through our Internet, see Telephone Services).
How do you watch Internet on your TV?
We have hooked up our laptop to our TV using an S-Video cable and a pair of speakers. Some newer laptops can handle multiple screens. Check your Help files on your version of Windows. We have Windows Vista currently and it automatically detects the TV when it is plugged into the laptop.
Check the back of your TV to see what plug-ins you have. With a little online research, most people can find a quick solution. If you have a new flatscreen TV with a USB port, you may be up and running very quickly.
Once our laptop and TV are hooked up together, we simply go to Hulu.com and watch for free. CBS is one network that will not allow Hulu to broadcast their shows, but the shows are available for a couple weeks on CBS.com directly. Hulu even allows you to subscribe to shows you want to watch and they send an email letting you know when it is ready.
The beauty of it is, you don't need to be home at the time it is broadcast. It is almost like having a free DVR. We watch it any time we want. The drawback...the shows expire after a few days to a few weeks depending on the show. There are less commercials, making it faster than a regular show.
Netflix Instant Play
Another option for very low cost is Netflix Instant Play. There are several plan levels from unlimited Instant play for $ 7.99 a month, to 4 DVDs at a time and unlimited Instant Play for $ 27.99 a month. Our family has done very well with the 1 DVD + unlimited Instant Play for $ 9.99 per month. The only drawback of this service is that the brand new shows are not available on Instant Play. Depending on the number of new movies you watch each month, this may or may not be a savings for your family. Redbox may be cheaper if you do not watch many movies a month.
One major benefit we have found is that Netflix will play directly to a Wii or Playstation without any extra devices. Easy set-up instructions are found on the Netflix website. We have always had Netflix, so our only change was to downgrade the plan from 3 DVDs to 1 DVD at a time.
Hulu is now looking to make money for it's service. It is unclear how long they will continue to be for free. Right now, the cost for premium service is $ 7.99 a month, still considerably cheaper than the $100 we used to pay. However, for a famliy wanting to save money, Hulu is still a great option for now.
What's the savings?
For us, we used to pay over $100 a month for a bundled TV, phone, and internet service. The only service available to us where we live would be about $120 a month now for all three services.
Now we pay $40 for all three.
U-verse bundle package (TV, phone, Internet) $ 120 per month - $ 40 Internet only per month = $ 80 per month savings or $ 960 per year!
NOTE: You may have more options where you live. We have only one option for Internet, Phone, and TV service, thus only one option for savings.