Hello to all our readers here at LA65. I would say good evening but depending on where you are you might be drinking something caffeinated rather than thinking about going to bed. As the world turns evening does come to us all and so we look to one of our favorite methods of entertainment, the TV. The title of this post might be a little misleading but if you stay with me I promise it will make sense in the end.
Thanks to technology we have come a long way since the golden age of television. I remember when I was a kid we had about 10 stations total if you counted PBS. Now we have more content than we can ever hope to watch. Because of all this variety, we as consumers have had to take different approaches to choose which content we want to watch. Some of us just click frantically until we run into something that appeals to whatever mood we are in at the time. While others take the advice of friends and try new shows based on their tastes. Either way, they both eventually get us to something we want to watch, or possibly a gender of shows that we lean on as favorites. Some people like police drama as a gender while others like science fiction. I have to ask the question, is this the best way to watch TV? In this post, I would like to take a step back and look at all the options we have and how we can watch all the TV we want in a cost-beneficial manner.
Stay with cable or go with the standard internet connection?
The big media companies out there are in one hell of a fight and the winner of that fight gets our time, which turns into subscriptions or advertising revenue. There are two main options the average consumer has to purchase TV content. They can purchase cable TV or they can purchase subscriptions and stream shows. Some people do both and if you like having all those options then who am I to argue. However, if you want to get the best bang for your buck on a monthly basis lets look at some options.
The first option I will talk about is cable TV. The appeal of this way to watch TV is you pay one bill for a certain number of channels depending on the package you purchase. You can also record TV shows or sporting events and watch them later. The cable company comes out and sets up your cable box and remote for all the TV’s in the household you want cable for. Most cable companies also have an app you can download and stream shows or bundle in a phone line and an internet connection. I also lump satellite services into this model as well due to their plans being relatively the same. After all cable and satellite compete directly with each other. Some of the pros for this kind of service are one bill instead of multiple bills, having a channel guide, and DVR programming. The biggest cons for cable service is renting all the hardware and having to bundle things you don’t want to get things you do want.
The second option I would like to mention is streaming services. The appeal of this way to watch TV is most of the shows roll their seasons all out at once. Instead of watching one episode and waiting for the next episode the following week the consumer can binge-watch their favorite shows and blow through a season in a weekend. Some of the pros for streaming would be the consumer can rewatch any content they want to without having to worry about filling up a DVR hard drive. The consumer doesn’t have to rent any equipment to acquire services either. Some of the major cons of streaming are you have multiple subscriptions per month instead of one bill and you have to manually search for shows or be at the mercy of a preferred algorithm instead of having a built-in programming guide.
In my opinion, there are a lot of drawbacks to consuming TV using a cable plan. For starters, even with multiple programming packages, I believe the prices are WAY too high. Renting all that extra equipment is a pain in the butt. Also, the average consumer will gravitate towards a small number of channels and ignore the others. Even with multiple people in the house, the number of channels watched will not go up that much. With a subscription-based service its easy for everyone in the household to set up their own profile so the streaming service can learn which shows they like to watch. At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking “how can streaming be so cheap with all the different services you have to subscribe to?” and I am here to say I have an answer for that.
The answer is subscription cycling
So what is subscription cycling? All it means is you rotate subscriptions by canceling some of them and turning other ones on. Let me give you a scenario. Let us say Netflix is about to release a movie I want to see and season 2 of a series I want to watch. I also know that Hulu has a new series coming out and Game of Thrones is about to pick back up on HBO. Instead of blowing money each month for all these subscriptions I stagger out the cost. So for the next month or so I will pay for Netflix and watch everything I want to see. The next couple months I will cancel Netflix and turn Hulu on to get caught up on things there. Once I am done with Hulu I cancel that and turn on HBO to watch Game of Thrones. I admit it does take some patience but I’ve effectively reduced my monthly expenses while picking and choosing which content I want to watch. If I wanted to I could throw in YouTube Red or Sling in my subscription cycle and watch all the regular TV that don’t appear on Hulu.
If I were to do a rough cost estimate on how much I save a month doing subscription cycling it would have to be around 30 dollars a month. The only constant bill I have is my internet connection. Everything else gets cycled depending on what my wife and I want to watch. I also like the fact that I am not locked into a contract of any kind. I can pick and choose my plan at will on a monthly basis. Hell if I want to splurge a little because I know my sister is coming from out of town I can turn as much on as I want and kill it all the next month. That kind of flexibility my friends to me is the best way to watch TV.