How to save money on cable TV, Part II

bill_coins_186671In our last edition, I talked about the three largest streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Though similar, they each had unique advantages. Netflix was great for original content and movies, Amazon Prime Video was included with the retailers free two day shipping plan and Hulu was offering a free limited option, keeping most shows to the five most recent episodes.

This time, we’re going to talk about some of the other streaming options as well as the hardware that can make the transition from paid cable to far less expensive streaming services much easier.

First up is CBS All Access at a cost of $5.99 per month. CBS has gone a different route and instead of staying teamed with one of the already established and stable streaming services, they are trying to do it on their own. At first, they offered their current shows the day after they aired on Hulu and their back catalog of older series on Netflix. With some small exceptions, these contracts expired at the end of 2015. Both streaming services are in negotiations with CBS to continue the mutually beneficial relationship, but it appears CBS has other ideas. They, along with CW co-owner Warner Brothers, seem determined to set up shop on their own. CBS also owns Showtime and offers that service for $11 monthly. My suggestion would be to wait on any of these offerings until they have matured beyond the frequent crashes, lockups and buffering issues experienced by this writer. It could be a great service, but it’s just not there yet.

Time Warner offers HBO as a standalone subscription for $15 per month, no cable subscription required. They also offer Cinemax as an add-on to Dish’s streaming service, Sling.TV. Additionally, the cable giant is currently testing streaming services in New York City as well as New Jersey. The service, starting at $10 a month, is only available to TW customers. Like any other cable company, you really need to read the fine print: the $10 starting price is only a one year special and on their site it states additional charges apply for “equipment, broadcast, sports programming, and other surcharges, taxes & fees.”  Is anyone else tired of being bullied by these nickel and dime tactics?

Finally, I’d like to give an honorable mention to Sling.TV. I’m sure you’ve seen their Take Back TV mailers offering a lineup of over 20 popular cable channels for $20 and, surprise, no hidden fees. This has got to be the best potential offering for future Cord-Cutters. I say “potential” because they suffer from some of the same problems as CBS All Access. Full disclosure, I’m a Sling.TV subscriber and even with the aforementioned issues I like it.

I can now say with confidence this will become a continuing series. I said in the last issue we were going to review some of the devices that made streaming easier and well, I ran out of room. Tune in next issue for the beginning of our hardware reviews as well as some tips for getting discounted or even free devices.
By Eric J. Worton for Pennsylvania Bridges