3 Inexpensive Ways to Watch Television and Movies Beyond Cable TV

by Gina Blitstein · 50 comments

Once upon a time, if you wanted to watch a show on television, you had to be in front of the TV at the time it aired. Maybe you could catch the rerun if you saw it listed in the TV Guide — otherwise, it was gone for good. If you wanted to watch a recent movie, you went to the theater. Then, if you waited a decade or so, that movie might show up on TV on the Late, Late Show. Those were the only means by which you could watch television and movies when the technology to create them was young.

In the 1970’s an amazing thing called Cable Television came about, delivering the ability to view not only ABC, NBC, CBS and a handful of local stations around the country but independent national networks that sprang up with original programming. It was a big adjustment for people to pay for the privilege of watching TV but the benefits of having all those choices proved worth the cost. Not long after that, HBO (Home Box Office), arrived on the scene bringing movies into our homes less than a year after they appeared in theaters! Since then it’s been a continuous stream through the years of more channels, more programming and more ways to watch entertainment.

Fast forward to today where we not only get TV and movies on our phones but there’s virtually no such thing as ‘appointment TV’ — we can watch what we want, when we want, wherever we want. While the choices are overwhelming, there’s a bright upside — the cost of entertainment is actually more affordable than ever. We’re a long way from bloated cable and satellite packages offering us more channels and choices than we can possibly watch at more than we need to pay.

While still present in most homes, cable and satellite companies aren’t the only game in town anymore for providing electronic entertainment. More and more customers are opting for basic service and filling out their options with the ‘a la carte’ options that abound, such as:

  1. Pay-per-view / On demand: If you don’t want to go to the expense of paying for premium channels 24/7, you can choose a pay-per view or on-demand selection through either your cable or satellite provider, computer, mobile device or gaming console, to watch specifically when you want. Pay-per-view usually costs less than $5 each; special events, such as boxing matches, are sometimes offered at a higher price. Subscription services, like Netflix, offer unlimited on-demand movies and television streaming over the Internet for under $10 per month.
  2. Internet: Miss an episode of your favorite show? Go to the network’s website and chances are you can watch the full episode online. Another way to access entertainment via the Internet is through a Roku box which enables you to watch Internet-based content on your TV. And Hulu.com provides access to TV shows and movies with free and paid plans.
  3. DVD Rental: They look more like vending machines than storefronts now but you can rent DVDs of movies or television shows for as little as $1 each per day from Redbox. Netflix will also deliver DVDs to your house instead of over the Internet if you prefer.

Compared to the price of expensive premium channel cable or satellite packages or going to a movie theater, these at-home or on-the-go solutions allow you to have top-quality entertainment delivered to you anytime, anywhere for very little outlay. Today’s technology has created the means for more entertainment to be more affordable.

How does technology cut your entertainment expenses?

And if you really can’t let go of your TV service, at least look at all the currently available broadband promotions to see if you can save some money every single month.

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that you can save money with Netflix? Even if you don't plan on using the service, you should at least sign up for the Netflix free trial here to get some free movies for a month.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer July 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Another way is by using online TV services like the TVDevo website, which streams live and offers shows on-demand

Emma E July 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I also use the TVDevo website and like the channel selection.

Dee Madison July 27, 2011 at 7:31 am

OMG my husband and Ijust had this converstion Sunday night. We said “when was TV taken over by the Dolan family (Cablevision)?” and why do we now have to pay over 200/month when TV was free. We don’t watch alot of movies or extras and don’t need them.. just basics.. wow.. how do we take back the networks?

cable tv companies July 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

I also just read about something called TVDevo, but don’t know much about it yet.

Robin September 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I use TVDevo and the streaming is pretty good. I thought the selection would be better, but it’s as good or better than Netflix’s.

Evita Luisa October 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Ummmmm, duh!!! What about Blockbuster??? They hasv even more videos and games, open in most locations 24/7 AND does the mailing, all of it better that Netflix!!

Mark November 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

Save your money. TVDEVO offers what is already free if you look. Hulu is free. Hulu Plus has a fee. Also check out Crackle.com (run by Sony), and Veetle.com, both free.

guest2011 December 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

UNFORTUNATELY, if you miss an episode of a show on TV, i.e., Harry’s Law or Leverage, or Burn Notice, and numerous others, you can NO longer go to the webpage and watch the missed episode. I’ve tried on NUMEROUS occasions to watch the latest episode of a series and when I go to the actual webpage, whether it’s a cable network like TNT or USA, etc., the webpage states that “this episode is not available for viewing.” Which REALLY sucks!

thefrumpeter January 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Apple TV with a Netflix subscription and a cable TV modem, couple this with a computer or laptop and you have instant access to anything in the world you could possible want to watch. Sporting Events, all free on firstrowsports, even soccer matches in Germany. TV shows and New Release movies all free at cuevana.com Pay $50 (over priced if you ask me) for a cable modem subscription and then never pay the networks, movie houses, advertisers ever again.

gmg January 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm

the author and the commentors on this article completely left out the Slingbox! Although it requires at least one cable connection, its likely that someone you know has access to free cable (think college students in apartment setting) or someone who refuses to gives up cable. In this situation, you could offer some other service in return or simply pay a fee agreed upon in advanced. The cost (not including the fixed cost of the box) would be a fraction of the current cost of .cable

John Smith January 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

There’s this newfangled thing called a ROOF ANTENNA and you can get from a dozen up to 100 free channels, many of them in 1080i High Definition at no charge. Often you can get away with putting the antenna in the attic. The best antenna companies are Antennacraft, Winegard, Antennas Direct, and Channelmaster. Stay away from the Chinese junk antennas sold on eBay.

If you are technically inclined you can also get an FTA (Free To Air) satellite system with either a 6-foot C/Ku band or a 3 foot Ku dish. It will run about $300 minus installation, and you get a lot of international programming mostly, plus PBS and newsfeeds and government channels, all for free.

Nightrider February 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Ok, from all the comments, one thing is clear: You STILL do not have a clear alternative to cut the damn cable.

We just have to swallow our pride, sulk, sit back and complain – fart – whine and still pay through your nose to the cable thieves. Once a company comes up with an alternate, wake me up. I am going to sleep for a long long time.

wcj February 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm

get movies and TV series for free from your public library!!

Dens TEEL February 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

fast and easy to steal dvd’s from walmart’s 5 dollar bin

jason February 29, 2012 at 1:08 am

Or you can go on the many many chinese “youtubes” look alike and watch full blown movies/tv shows..fantastic!!

Jess March 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

My boyfriend and I just ditched our WAY over priced TV service and bought a Roku. We love this little thing. It lets you stream videos and music and all sorts of channels through your wireless or internet service. One payment to purchase it and if you have a hulu or netflix account it manages those, as well as pandora, Ted talks, workout channels, All recipes. Tons of things. Great alternative in my opinion.

Bill N March 2, 2012 at 7:38 am

Who are all the TVDEVO “plants” putting their “advertisements” on here?

marcus March 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

John Smith Said
There’s this newfangled thing called a ROOF ANTENNA.
lol that’s grate if you live anywhere other than the UK, here you have to pay the BBC £150.00 pounds a year before you can access the freeview channels or any thing else. Its time the BBC went Pay per view and set the British free.

Martin May 20, 2012 at 5:51 am

Re Marcus, its a case of you get what you pay for,in the case of the BBC, superb TV and Radio all free of inane, loud adverts . Do you really think commercial TV is free? all goods and services recoup their enormous TV advertising budgets from all yoy viewers..think about it

Annie June 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

You forgot one – an antenna. I paid $40 for one at CompUSA, and now get 25 local stations for free. Of course this will only be worth it in a larger city. I still get “most” of my favorite shows (LOST, Bones, Breaking Bad etc).

viiilx June 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Re Martin, I use the commercials to fetch the new beer and/or discharge the previous one. So, it is better than free!

Sharon Thomas June 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm

You are right. These three options can be widely used to watch movies. There are also other options like hulu and many more through which TV can be viewed. Annie’s idea is great and I love it.

tonya July 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Annie and I think alike. Great minds and all that. I haven’t paid a cable bill in about 6 months!

Dennis McDonald July 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm

My advice is to buy a Roku to use with your broadband internet connection.

Alan July 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

Hulu? No bloated cable packages? Not here in the Banana Republic of Canada…

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: