Today the “Cable Guy” is paying me a visit to cut my cable. I’m done with cable TV. Today I say, welcome to the future of Internet and Free Over the Air (FOTA) TV. I’ll watch what I want, when I want without the need to pay for 95% of the channels I wasn’t interested in.
I still want to watch TV from the comfort of my sofa so how am I achieving this? It’s not as difficult as you might think.
The first thing I did was compile a set of web sites that broadcast the content I want into my own TV guide if you will. Then I bought a couple of Internet devices over the last couple of years to access content on my TV. I could have bought just one device but I’m a techie and like to play around with these devices and develop for them. I also bought a cheap indoor FOTA antenna.
The Terk HDTVI HDTV Indoor Antenna
I paid $50 for the Terk FOTA antenna and even though I face north-east in Toronto I still get 12 HD quality local and Buffalo stations (Facing south I would get more channels). So now I can watch local and some U.S. programming and it only cost me $50.
Apple TV and iPad
If you’re familiar with the Apple TV you know you can watch Netflix, MLB, NHL, WSJ TV etc. All of those require a subscription but at least it’s what I want to watch. I have two accounts, a Canadian and a U.S. account. The U.S. account lets me also access Hulu Plus and Skynews. There are other services but I don’t use them. As well, by using the U.S account I get access to content not normally available in Canada.
My iPad has many useful apps I can use to stream content directly to my TV though the Apple TV over my local network.
I’ve got a Sony NSZ-GS7 box that plugs into my receiver and TV. While the reviews on this machine haven’t been great, I bought it to get better acquainted with Google TV for my business and to test an app I’m developing.
Google TV is still in its infancy. The YouTube app is average but the quality of the streaming is excellent. It’s the navigation within the app which is terrible.
Apps I use on it include Al Jazeera, CNBC and Netflix among others but the it’s the internet browser where it can really shine. I stream HD quality NFL games and other content.
The Secret Sauce
My secret sauce is access to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service which allows me to use my VPN enable router to access content in other countries. I recommend Asus routers and I use Hide My Ass as my VPN provider.
What the VPN does is assign my network attached devices an IP address local to whatever country I want to watch content from. It may sound complicated but it really isn’t. So when I turn on my Google TV, Apple TV etc. I the services I access think I’m in the U.S. for example. That’s how I access Hulu Plus etc.
The Cable Companies
I really don’t have anything against the cable companies. They run their business as they see fit though with rules set by the CRTC. However what I don’t like is being forced to pay for bundles of TV channels that include content I have no interest in.
If they offered all their channels a la carte I might be interested, but they don’t. Some industry experts say prices would skyrocket. Perhaps, but I was paying, with taxes and HD terminal rental, $100 a month and not even getting all the channels I wanted.
Other than the one-time cost of buying the Apple TV, Google TV and Terk antenna I calculated that my ongoing costs for my new way of watching TV will be at least 50% cheaper overall per year than what I was paying for cable and I get to watch exactly what I want. I think that makes cutting the cable a good choice.
P.S. My internet costs won’t go up. I work from home so I was already paying for enough bandwidth to cover my usage.