How to watch TV on the Internet

In this installment of our “Cut the Cord” blog we will talk about how you can view all the shows you want over the Internet and save up to $500/year.

All of us are dealing with the cost of everything going up and trying to get more out of the services that we already have. One bill that annoys a lot of people is their cable bill. It does not seem to be a good value to pay for lots of channels that you do not use. And the price keeps going up.

Before we get into online video streaming you should look at what is available for free over the air. If you are a casual viewer or on a tight budget the best option may be a HDTV antenna. The new digital TV broadcasts are actually better quality than cable and it is hard to beat the price since it is free. Check out http://antennaweb.org to see what is available in your area and then go to http://wonderwave.net/how-choose-hdtv-antenna for more info.

Cable companies are out of touch dinosaurs. They act like you have no other choice but really you do. Many people are figuring this out and leaving the cable companies in droves. In the last 2 years US cable companies have lost about 3 million subscribers and their stock has taken a beating. During the same period the biggest Internet TV provider, Netflix has added about 32 million subscribers.

To take advantage of this new technology you will need a streaming device. You may already have a smart TV, Xbox or Playstation. Of course you can also use your phone, tablet or computer. There are other stand alone devices like the excellent Roku, which has been around the longest and the Apple TV. Typically you will spend between $60-$100. All you have to do is plug the device into power and connect a HDMI cable to your TV. You can attach it to your wireless network but it is preferable to connect with an Ethernet cable.

You can see all the same programs on Internet TV and save money too. Instead of cable channels you will use one or more apps on your streaming device. To determine which apps you need check out the online TV guide at http://tv.com

In the search bar at the top, type in each of the shows that you watch. Then click the one you want from the search results. Click “Watch Online” and hover over an episode to see which services have that show.

The big daddy of streaming services is Netflix. About half of all Americans have Netflix hooked up to their TV. They have probably four times as much content as the next biggest competitor for $9/mo. Another good streaming service is Hulu. They have a great selection of TV programs for $8/mo. You should also consider Amazon Video, where you can buy individual episodes and series or subscribe to Amazon Prime for $99/year. Amazon Prime also includes music and free shipping for Amazon orders.

Another service that we recommend is SlingTV for $20/mo. It provides a similar experience to cable TV since it has live TV channels including AMC, A&E, TNT, IFC, TBS and CNN. For kids there is Disney, Cartoon Network and ABC Family. They also have ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 which is great for football and basketball and some baseball games. For serious basketball fans you may want to consider NBA League Pass for $69/year. mlb.tv streams all out-of-market baseball games for $24.99/mo. or $129.99/yr.

A good package of channels to consider is Netflix, Hulu and SlingTV. For $37/mo. that will be more than enough variety to satisfy most users. That will save you $30-40/mo. compared to cable. Depending on your viewing habits you may want to add or substitute Amazon Video but either way you will save money. All of these services allow you to stream to multiple devices but you may need to upgrade your Internet for about $10/mo. For a limited time, SlingTV is offering a free Roku2 with 3 months of paid service.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s show the cable companies that they can’t take our business for granted. If and until they provide a better value let’s get our TV over the Internet. I switched from satellite TV 5 years ago and have never looked back. I don’t miss anything and get to watch the shows I want when it is convenient for me.

The only thing stopping most people from “cutting the cord” is fear of the unknown. But Wonderwave is here to help and you can safely try all of these services before you switch. None of them require a long-term contract. Then once you are satisfied, you can be the resident expert in your family and help them save money too. Email us to share your experiences and let us know how we can help.

Use the "The Cord Cutter" to calculate what it would cost to replace your current subscription with Online TV.