It always amazes me how many people out there still aren’t on board with the Netflix/Hulu/stream-your-content online TV train. People who are will get everything that I’m about to write, but for the guys who aren’t: here’s an excellent list of reasons why turning to streaming media will widen your horizons without stretching your wallet. And yes- I realize fully that you can pirate, pirate, pirate-face more than you could probably watch and everything you can possibly think of, but in some ways you’re still going to miss out, so bear with me and considering upping the entertainment in your man-cave the easy way.
But Gina, Those Online TV Services Cost Money and I Am So Poor and I Can Totally Get Everything for Free!
You sure can! I’ve
never pirated (m)any things off of the intarwebs, so I only know this from hearsay and gossip, but as someone who also has money and also likes to keep it to look at and talk to on lonely nights, I feel qualified to speak on the topic.
Think back, eight long years or more, to the days where we rubes still went to a physical location to get our movie and TV fix. Buying box sets was relegated to only our most favorite and holy television programs, because the cost of a six disk set was the equivalent of a precious new smart phone. You’d spend time meandering around, hoping that somehow, something would fall off the shelf at your feet and you’d pick it up and a beam of light would cascade through the front window and it would be a sign that your days of wandering lost in the rental desert were over; you held the key to the promised land of old Seinfeld episodes in your hands and would bear it home to your friends like the avenging messiah of “What do you want to do tonight?” Perhaps I exaggerate. (BUT I USUALLY DON’T.) The point remains that pirating everything still doesn’t offer all that an online TV service will. We’ve got it too easy and we have forgotten the harsh struggles of our ancestors.
Recommendations: Services try to get to know you, which is creepy, yes. But they do get very, very good at it! You’ll end up getting recommendations for things you would never dream of watching- things that would likely only be played on channels you would never pay for. Browsing small cross-sections by genre means you won’t get flooded with an overwhelming amount of irrelevant info, and deep and insanely varied back catalogs mean something totally out of your element could catch your eye that you would have never gravitated towards otherwise. While my main fodder is terrible action/black-comedy gore fest hybrids, it turns out I also really like quirky, well-shot documentaries about bizarre topics. Good Hair? Phenomenal! Jiro Dreams of Sushi? Captivating! The Viking Sword? Total nut-buster!
Price Point: Seriously. Break down your monthly budget costs and consider what an online TV streaming service offers. Have one less Starbucks a month. Un-subscribe from two specialty channels that cost you $4.99/month with your regular cable plan. Remember that you used to spend ten bucks a week renting a single movie that usually came back to bite you for a few bucks more because you lost it under a pile of laundry.
I keep the most basic local cable tv so I can keep up with news broadcasts and local weather- while I’ve got some sort of strange nostalgic ‘sit down just before dinner and see what’s happening’ habit that I’m not ready to break yet, many people who make the switch don’t bother keeping any regular service. Yes, it’s not free. As a society, we have to re-learn that we need to pay for the services that we value so that we can support those who provide them, who will in turn support us for the goods and services we provide with our work. It’s what makes the world go ’round, and we are getting abominably terrible at it. In this case, what we also learn is that while we pay for the services, we also pay a mere fraction of what we used to pay for cable packages inflated with channels we didn’t need, want, or even understand. It’s a trade off, men, and could save you anywhere from $300 to a grand in one year.
Instant Availability and Quality: During those times when I am never pirating something I need, I’ve often never come across poorly compiled series, shows with crap audio and definition so low it looks like a dvd was ripped to vhs and then camcordered to be ripped back to digital. Sometimes files are just crap quality, and sometimes no matter how hard you plumb the depths, there just aren’t enough seeders to keep your download alive in time for you to watch a Swamp People marathon on your day off.
If you still haven’t tried a streaming online TV service and are still not convinced, then start with something like Netflix. For those of you who are commitment-phobes, they often offer discounts to new users- right now they are offering a promotional trial for you to sign up for 30 days free. If you don’t like it, cancel… but I somehow think you’ll be too busy catching up on every single episode of Breaking Bad back to back, followed by a Honey Boo Boo “I was just curious!” shame-fest to remember.