By: Damon Gonzalez
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Switching to Internet Television
Virtually nobody likes their cable TV provider. Every year they keep raising prices hoping that you won’t switch and offering great prices for new customers only. They make you rent a box for every TV you own for an extra $10 per month even though you have paid more than the boxes are worth over time. And just when you sit down to watch the big game, you realize that it is only on Fox Sports 1 and you have to find a sports bar ASAP.
Fortunately there are now three awesome solutions that will allow you to turn in your cable box(es), save you money, and love TV again. I have been showing my clients the benefits of Sling.tv, Direct TV Now, and Sony PlayStation Vue for a few months and have helped them save $50 to $200 per month off of their cable bills. Internet TV is fabulousand let me show you how to move to the TV of the future.
Go Buy an Amazon Fire Stick Now
When I first started looking into getting cable through the internet I was disappointed to learn that both Sling TV and Direct TV Now would not work on my smart TV or through my Sony Playstation 3. Although I didn’t want an extra remote to keep up with, I am very happy I spent the $40 for an Fire TV stick. It is a small dongle that fits into one of the HDMI ports on the back of your TV and needs to be plugged into an electric outlet or a USB port for power. I thought I would only use the remote for internet cable, but I have found it offers so much more.
The Fire TV stick has an enormous selection of apps all in one place and has become the default portal to my entertainment on my TV. I use it to access Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, HBO Now, Youtube, and my new DirecTV Now subscription. You can also subscribe to individual stations like STARZ or Acorn TV to get your British TV fix.
The last great thing about a Fire TV Stick is that it is equipped with an Alexa Voice remote. It turns your TV into an Amazon Echo without you having to shell out an additional $180. You can ask it to play music, search for content, fast forward, and even order a Domino’s pizza. I recommend that you go to Settings -> Alexa -> Things to Try on your Fire Stick to learn all of the great things it can do. Expect Alexa to do even more as this technology improves in the future.
The search feature isn’t perfect yet, but it is pretty good. I just tried saying “play Deadpool” and the app realized that show is currently available on my HBO GO app. It also showed me that I could purchase it through Amazon. I then tried saying “play Scandal.” It instantly found that I could watch it for free through my Netflix subscription. Lastly, I tried “Captain America: Civil War” and it did not recognize that movie was in the Netflix catalog and only gave me the option to rent it or buy it through Amazon. With the arms race between Alexa, OK Google, Siri, and Cortana I expect this technology to be really good in three years.
Choose Your New Cable Provider
Hopefully you just ordered your Fire TV Stick. Now you need to determine which internet TV provider to go with. I suggest that you click on the following links to compare the channel line ups:
When I help clients sign up for these services, I find that different people value different programming. If your kids really like Nickelodeon, you may want to go with DirecTV Now or pay $5 with Sling to get the Kids Extra Package and not go with PlayStation VUE. I had one client that chose providers based on who had the Hallmark Channel (it is currently not on PlayStation VUE). You will also want to evaluate which service offers which local channels live in your local market. Some packages don’t have any local TV and other packages only offer local channels on demand (about 24 hours after a show has aired). I expect most services to offer most of the local channels live soon, but this can be a deal breaker for some people. I get pretty good reception with my HD antennae so local channels weren’t an issue for me.
After you have compared the channel line ups and packages there are a couple of things to consider. If having a DVR is really important to you, then PlayStation VUE has the only true DVR that is based in the cloud. I expect Sling and DirecTV Now to have one by the end of 2017. If you travel a lot and have AT&T as your cell phone carrier, you may favor DirecTV Now since you can stream TV to your phone without using your data. If you really love sports and want a good price, Sling TV’s $20 per month Orange package is really attractive.
I signed up with DirecTV Now because they had a limited time offer to get their 100 channel offering for only $30 per month (it is now $60). My wife and I absolutely love it. We have more channels than we could possibly watch. I can finally watch most sporting events that I want to. Even though it currently doesn’t have a DVR, you can save certain shows to your watch list and it will automatically add them after they have aired. The first season of Mr. Robot is available for free on Amazon Prime as is the first five seasons of Suits. After I have watched past episodes on Amazon, I can then watch the current seasons in my watch list.
All three services offer free trials and will offer free or reduced pricing for streaming devices (Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, Apple TV) if you prepay for one to three months. Unfortunately your streaming device will come in the mail deep into your free trial, so you may want to buy your device before you start the trial. If you like internet TV, then you will want to have a streaming device for each TV. You should also expect some frustrations as you learn how to use a new device, save shows, and navigate the new world of internet TV. It took me a frustrating half hour to figure out that I had to log into my Amazon.com account on my computer to download some of the apps to my Fire TV Stick. You probably have forgotten how hard it was at first to use you current cable provider.
Now go sign up for a free trial and you can thank me later.