Once upon a time, when our parents and grandparents were young, TV shows were in black and white. You only got five channels, and you had to use rabbit ears to improve reception. And of course, viewers could only watch what was on at the moment — there was no recording anything to play back later — and you changed the channel by (gasp) getting up and moving the dial.
Obviously, times have changed. Now we can choose from dozens of channels, numerous customized packages for cable and satellite TV and a variety of shows streaming on a computer or mobile device. With all of these options, it can be hard to choose between ordering a customized package or paying to stream your TV programming. This guide focuses on three genres of content to help you decide:
Sports fans may wish to switch to a satellite service and order custom sports packages. For example, Dish offers a multi-sport package that includes the Pac-12 and Big Ten Networks, NFL RedZone and NFL Network, NBA TV, NFL and MLB Network and more. Rates vary depending on whether you are a new customer and what other packages you are ordering, so it’s worth calling Dish directly to check on prices. Sports fans can also purchase individual sports packages; for example, the NBA League Pass offers 900 games.
For streaming sports, your options include:
- LiveTV offers live sports streams including English Premier League and other soccer league games, hockey and basketball games
- Stream2Watch also features live feeds and streams for a variety of sports, so you can watch anything from boxing to cricket on your smartphone or mobile device.
While you can find plenty of games on streaming sites, there’s not always a guarantee that the game you want to see will be available on the site or in your area. While paying for a satellite sports package does involve an extra fee, it typically guarantees that you won’t miss any of the important games.
Most cable and satellite TV companies offer basic packages that include plenty of sitcoms on major networks. You can also use the DVR feature that is included in many packages to record an entire season; this will allow you to get your Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Wolowitz fix whenever you want. On-demand services may also be available from your cable or satellite network, which lets you watch what you want, when you want.
If you are considering giving up traditional TV, you probably won’t have to miss out on many of your favorite sitcoms; you can watch a lot of network programs by streaming them directly from the networks’ websites. Hulu also offers the five most recent episodes of many of the top programs on TV. As a bonus, Hulu Plus is available on many types of gaming consoles and mobile phones, so chances are good you won’t have to pay extra for a special device. Hulu charges $7.99 a month, and offers a free week to see if the streaming service is for you. Except for its original programming, most shows on Netflix show up at least a season late. Check out this Complex article for the 50 best shows streaming on Netflix right now.
Most cable and satellite companies offer plenty of movie channel packages; it’s definitely worth calling to see what channels, specials and upgrades they are offering. For example, Optimum Cable has a package that includes 86 channels devoted to movies, and satellite companies feature pay-per-view for current titles. For many, using one of these services combined with a DVR or TiVo means they can record and watch top movies whenever they want, and have access to hundreds of titles. You can stream Amazon Prime for $99 a year and get access to over 41,000 movies and TV programs. The movie selection may not be as complete as you would like, so if you are considering switching over, give the free trial a try.