There’s a revolution going on in the world of television. The best shows are no longer relegated to the four and a half broadcast networks. Instead, they’re moving to the basic and premium cable channels, streaming video sites like Netflix and Hulu, and even places like YouTube and DirectTV. In summary, there’s a whole lot of stuff being aired in many different places, which means consumers need to make a choice. Where the hardest decision to make was whether or not to pay for a channel like Showtime or HBO, now it comes down to whether or not you should keep your current service, switch to something else, or completely eliminate over-the-air channels.
More people these days are abandoning the way we watched television for over a half century to tune into websites to watch their shows, view them on their Smart TVs, or binge watch numerous episodes at once. What you decide depends on how much television you watch on a regular basis, when you watch it, and how much you’re willing to pay. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to the current three options — cable, satellite, or neither.
Advantages: These days most cable companies are comparable to their satellite cousins. They offer DVRs that can record four shows at one time, On Demand movies and television programs, and a wide variety of channels. With most cable companies you can combine television service with land-line service and Internet. Some cell phone companies, Verizon is an example, also provide packages connected with cable companies.
Disadvantages: Just because there is a wide variety of channels doesn’t mean there’s a wide variety of programming, which you discover when flipping through all the channels. And then there’s the cost. With a premium package including sports, high-speed Internet, and no-fee long distance the cost for cable can be well over $200 a month. The decision to pay this depends if your watch an hour of TV a day or grow roots in your sofa cushions watching several hours of programs.
Advantages: Low, if not free, price for installation of products, free DVR, low initial cost for channels, and exclusive programs only seen on the satellite services — these are some of the advantages of choosing satellite over cable. In addition, satellite services offer channels not seen on most major cable outlets. The retro cartoon network Boomerang is one example of this.
Disadvantages: The initial costs may be minimal, but what happens once the contract is renewed could put an extreme dent in your budget as you come to see what the actual costs turn out to be. Face it, satellite services are businesses and have to make their money back at some point. Another disadvantage to satellite over cable is loss of signal during various weather conditions. Of course, an improperly attached satellite dish can cost more than just a monthly fee if it breaks off and causes structural damage to your property.
Advantages: Cost is one of them. At around $8 a month for Netflix and Hulu and an annual fee of $70 for Amazon Prime, you are given the choice of thousands of titles to choose from. With Hulu you can get next day airings of shows from NBC, FOX, and ABC, as well as various cable channels. To top it off, Smart TVs that feature these streaming video sites, Internet access, and other computer features are now getting down to price points of standard flatscreens.
Disadvantages: Not all networks or cable channels provide next day viewing of their programs on Hulu or their own websites. For example, Bravo, the home to the Real Housewives, rarely airs any episodes from the current season until all the reunions are done. This means waiting for weeks or months to see your favorite programs.