My choice of video services (winter 2015-2016)

There’s been a lot of talk about “cord cutting,” or cancelling cable TV services. Less spoken about is “cord shaving,” or just cutting back on cable TV services to cheaper packages. For any cord cutters/shavers, streaming video becomes much more important.

I’ve made a few changes to my own cable TV and streaming video services recently. Here’s a look at what I’m currently using.

Cable TV (pared down)

On Christmas weekend a few weeks ago, I decided to pare back my cable TV/broadband package in order to save money. I went from an expanded version of Comcast’s “Double Play” package (most cable channels plus broadband, the latter boosted via their “Blast” option to 105Mbps) to a package called “Internet Plus 25.” It’s the over-the-air “lifeline”/”limited basic” channels all cable companies are required to offer (but don’t like to advertise) and 25Mbps “Performance 25” broadband; HBO is also thrown in with the package.

I don’t mind paying for limited basic, as it’s about the same price as broadband by itself, and I don’t want to mess with an antenna anyway. I also want to watch Canada’s CBC, which is carried by Comcast in the Seattle area. CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” and NBC’s winter/spring hockey telecasts will also let me watch hockey, including the playoffs and Stanley Cup. If I specifically want coverage of my favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks, I can stream their games’ radio broadcasts via TuneIn.

If  curious, Comcast dominates here in Seattle, despite the region’s tech-friendly nature. Unfortunately, the only other true competitor here is regional phone company/DSL provider CenturyLink. The speed CenturyLink’s DSL service offers is too slow to be feasible.

Roku

I’ve written about my Roku usage before. Since getting my Roku Streaming Stick a year ago, it’s held up pretty well.

Streaming video services

Streaming video services I’m currently using, both on my Roku and other devices, include:

Netflix

Still one of the dominant streaming video services. Related to animation, Netflix carries a sizable chunk of Disney programming (but not much from secondary channels Disney XD or Junior, such as “Gravity Falls” or “Doc McStuffins“) through an arrangement. Cartoon Network has shifted most of its current shows to Hulu, while Viacom shifted most of its animated fare (“SpongeBob SquarePants,” etc.) to Amazon Video a few years ago. Netflix has also made a long-term deal with Dreamworks to carry made-for-Netflix original programming, such as series based on “Turbo” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

PBS/PBS Kids

Most of PBS’ programming can be found through these two apps for Roku, Amazon, and other devices. This includes the newest episodes of its children’s programs, as well as some back episodes.

Watch ESPN

While a cable TV subscription level that offers ESPN is required to view ESPN through this app, ESPN 3 is available. It offers coverage of some smaller colleges’ sports, a few international sporting events such as cricket, and so forth.

HBO Go

I haven’t used this one much, as I don’t really watch HBO. However, I figured it’d be worth installing on my Roku anyway, since I get HBO with my cable/broadband package.

Nickelodeon

Nick’s app for Roku offers a few new episodes of shows like “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” More episodes are available if one subscribes to a qualifying cable TV package. Unfortunately, Comcast isn’t one of the cable companies available to use that part of the app with, despite being the country’s biggest cable company.

Disney Channel/Disney XD

A handful of new episodes of Disney’s shows, plus a few older made-for-TV movies, are available for free through these Roku apps.

Amazon Video

I’ve not renewed my Prime service in order to save money, but Prime subscribers may prefer using Amazon Prime Video instead of Netflix. Nickelodeon fans will definitely want to go with Amazon.

Google Play Movies & TV

I have a few free videos from Google Play from various promotions.

Comedy Central

The newest episodes of “The Daily Show” are available through Comedy Central’s website and Roku app, even for those without a cable TV package.

Plex

Plex is useful home media streaming software, especially for those with video files without digital rights management (DRM).

YouTube

YouTube offers plenty of videos created by its users. Here’s a list of some worth watching.

That about sums things up. Of course, renting DVDs is also an option for some. Most of my video viewing’s streamed these days, however.

Have you decided to cut or trim cable?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *