Or: How to save money and stop seeing so many ads.
I’m going to open this post with the disclaimer that I am not sponsored by any of the products I mention in it. I’m not getting paid to tell you these things; I either really admire or dislike the products that I talk about for what they are.
That said; let’s talk about how you are the product. There are a plethora of free services online. All of these services have a caveat: advertisements. They are a necessary evil for all of the free sites with a lot of traffic to make money for the website so that the website can continue to provide the services for free and keep their servers online, updated, and expand. Some of these websites offer to get rid of the ads if you upgrade to a premium account. A lot of the time it’s worth the extra cost.
Even if ads are a necessary evil, we still hate them. The best worst-kept secret on the Internet is a little add-on for Google Chrome and Firefox called Adblock Plus. With it you never have to deal with ads online again. It blocks ads on Facebook, news sites, email, even Youtube’s video ads and Pandora (Pandora is hit and miss for me sometimes). Since I installed it two years ago I’ve rarely dealt with ads. When one manages to slip through it’s okay because I’m not completely and constantly bombarded by them on a daily basis. I get all my content for free by skirting the system.
I did away with Cable TV a long time ago. The only money Time Warner receives from me is for my internet connection ($35/mo). A typical bill for Cable TV and Internet can be well over $100 no matter what company you go with after you factor in service charges, fees, and various taxes (Even with the ‘For the first 12 months’ disclaimers they slap on to promotions that offer $50/mo prices). Oh, and it can be twice as much if you want to include a landline. So I kicked cable TV to the curb. If I’m paying for something then I don’t want to see as many ads as they are showing me, I don’t want to have to pay extra for a DVR with a limited storage capacity, I don’t want to give money to shitty reality TV and people like Honey Boo Boo, and I don’t want to pay more on top of that when I only watch MAYBE ten of the one thousand plus they claim to offer.
No. Fuck that and fuck them.
Here’s what I did:
Pandora One is the premium version of Pandora which kills the ads for around $36 a year. A year. That’s $3 a month. Couple that amazing price with customizable genre stations, the ability to block songs you hate (Friday & Call Me Maybe, anyone?), and portability of the Pandora App and you never have to listen to another shitty used car ad again in your life. I have an adapter in my car for my phone ($20) so I just hook it up, launch the Pandora app, pick my station, and go.
Netflix Streaming is $8 per month and has been everybody’s go-to for their favorite series and movies. Their Instant selection may be spotty at times, but it’s still full of quality shows and movies. They have even started their own series, House of Cards, which has received great reviews.
Amazon Prime Instant Streaming is $78 per year. $6.50 a month. I’m currently on their one-month free trial and am digging the hell out of it. They are beginning to accumulate more content, as well. The only cringe-worthy note about it is while they offer one season of something, sometimes the second, third, and so on seasons are not offered for free with the Amazon Prime package. You have to purchase the season or episodes individually. Even for $2 a pop, I’m not so sure I want to spend that money on a show I might watch only once or twice and can never have a physical copy of.
Redbox just launched their beta for streaming services. It’s going to go for around the same price as Netflix once the free month trial is over at $8 per month. They offer a lot of the same titles as Netflix with the perk of reserving up to 4 movies at your local RedBox for free with the streaming service.
Hulu is also $8 per month. The thing I hate about Hulu is, you guessed it, Ads. I dropped Hulu a while back because I hated that the ads existed despite my paying for the service. I may eventually pick them up again, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind ads as long as they aren’t every five minutes then Hulu is your friend. The other positive note about Hulu is its ability to bring you more recent episodes of your favorite shows. Netflix is often at least a season behind.
Many of these streaming services also offer HBO and Showtime series and movies which are premium channels for cable packages..
Who wants to just sit at their computers to watch TV though? Well, that’s where gaming systems like the Xbox 360 come into play. If you aren’t a gamer and can’t justify spending that kind of money just for the video apps, I present you with the Roku. The Roku is under $100 and well worth the investment. These systems can support all of the streaming services I mentioned and more, so you have no reason to spend money on cable or satellite TV ever again.
If you were to sign up for ALL of these services you would wind up paying about $34 each month for most of the exact same programming you get for over $100 with cable. There are plenty of children’s programs on these sites for the little ones, too.
What about the news?
…. Are you fucking serious?
Walter Cronkite would be ASHAMED!
Again I say: Kill your TV.
Still not enough? In an upcoming blog I’ll talk about Youtube and some of the best, most educational, and most entertaining channels I’ve found (That don’t suck).
My question to you: Are there any streaming services you use? What are their best qualities and their worst?
Leave a comment and join the conversation!