The Need to Plan Part 2 – What Service Do You Need

Now that you know what shows you want to watch, now it is time to figure out how you are going to watch them. From the spreadsheet you filled out from the previous post, you know what services you have to subscribe to.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the better services out there:

Netflix ($7.99 / month) – Netflix has become the gold standard for how to do streaming video. They have a massive library of content available to stream and the price is low. A lot of people complain that they cannot find what they want to watch on Nexflix streaming. These people tend to expect that they have every movie available. While they do have a lot of movies available, the movie studios have been apprehensive to allow their full catalog to be streamed. TV shows is really where the service shines. The TV shows tend to come out the same time as their DVD counterparts so you’ll have to understand that if this is going to be your sole source of TV shows, you will are going to have to wait. Another noteworthy thing about Netflix is that there are no advertisements in their videos.

Hulu / Hulu Plus (Free and $7.99 / month respectively) – Hulu was the brain child of the major networks getting together to combat other streaming services. The biggest advantage of Hulu is that most content is available the day after it’s original air date. The differences between Hulu and Hulu Plus are pretty vast. Hulu is available in the web browser only and usually only has a few of the latest episodes available. This means that you cannot watch Hulu content on your tablet, smart phone, or game console without subscribing to Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus also makes most shows back catalog available for watching which makes it a nice alternative to Netflix if you only are watching network television.
Amazon Instant Video (Pay Per Episode) – Amazon’s Instant Video service is a great way to fill the gaps that is left between Netflix and Hulu Plus. You can buy each episode of a TV series for between $2 and $3. You can download and stream the video from a number of devices and your PC so it is also flexible.

Amazon Prime ($75 / year) – Amazon Prime gives you a lot for $75 a year. Not only do you get free 2 day shipping, access to the Amazon Lending Library, but you also get access to their video streaming service. Their video streaming service works a lot like Netflix. Their catalog is not as large as Netflix, but it is growing constantly. Probably not worth subscribing on it’s own, but if you order from Amazon a lot, the 2 day shipping is great.

I have found that between all these services, I am able to watch pretty much whatever I want. The next thing to plan is what hardware you are going to need to be able to watch this content.

The Need to Plan Part 1 – What Do You Want To Watch

If you are anything like me, you watch TV. A lot of TV. More than you care to admit to sometimes.

Because of all the shows that I watch, you tend to think “I can’t cut the cord! I’ll have nothing to watch!”. Well unless you are watching network that don’t know that the future is coming, you should be able to find most of your shows one way or another. This however does not mean that all your programs will jump up and say ”I’m here! Come and watch me!”. You’ll have to look around a little.
This is where it helps to have a spreadsheet. I put mine up in the cloud so that you can see exactly what I did. You can view it here. This spreadsheet is a little dated now, but you will get the idea. I took all the TV shows that my wife and I watch and I listed them out. I then looked around at 5 different internet services to see if they were available on there. The Yes/No column has a little bit of code behind it to show what was and was not available. This will let you know if you are even close to being able to cut the cord (legally).

This begs the question “Why not just bittorrent everything?”. Well first of all, it is illegal. These shows cost money to produce and they make money from the revenue from advertising to you while you watch the show or through licensing deals with services like Netflix or Hulu or when you purchase the show. Paying for the content you consume is important. If nobody makes money on TV shows, there will be no more TV shows (you can decide if that is a good or bad thing).

Okay, now that you know what you want to watch and where this content is available, we can figure out how you are going to watch your content. We’ll cover that in the new post.

Why Am I Cutting The Cord

I find that I ask myself this question quite often. Why should I cut the cord?

This transition is turning out to be a lot of work on my part. In the end I will probably confuse my wife as I will have to teach her to watch TV again now that the convenient grid is gone. A lot of time has been invested in making plans and trying to find the perfect combination of software that will work. Why would I put myself through this? My primary motivating factor here is money. Watching my TV bill go up over the years has been tough. I don’t want to imply that I cannot afford TV. Rather that I do not see the money I spend on TV as being a good value.

The money I am currently spending on TV does not go toward the content that I want to watch. You may not know this, but roughly half of the money you pay toward your cable or satellite company goes towards sports programming (source). Half? I am not what you would call a sports fan. In fact, I watch exactly one sports event a year (Super Bowl). This really plays into how I do not perceive cable as a good value. If $600 of the $1200 I spend a year on TV goes toward something I don’t watch, then why should I pay for it? I don’t even want to think about how much of the remaining $600 goes to other channels that I could care less about.

The other motivating factor I have is flexibility. In 2013, does it not feel a little archaic that can only watch a show on it’s specified day and time? If I miss it, I will get exactly one chance to watch it, if I can remember to watch it in the summer? DVR’s solved this to a certain extent, but it is still not quite where it needs to be. I should be able to watch the show, at the time and place of my choosing after it has been released.

The final reason is that I really needed a hobby 🙂 and this is the future of entertainment. Eventually your internet service will just be a dumb pipe for all your video needs.