For many years I have threatened to cancel our cable television service, and for many years I’ve made excuses why I didn’t think it would work well for our family. While I don’t watch a lot of television, I expected a mutiny from my family at the very thought of pulling the plug. That was until digital over-the-air programming and services like Hulu Plus came along. But is Hulu vs cable even a fair fight?
I am not one to jump on board with new technology, gadgets, etc, mostly because trying to keep up with the never-ending product cycle of new toys is a quick way to go broke. However, every now and then there comes along a breakthrough in the form of a new service or technology that helps save money.
Hulu vs Cable: Which Expense is More Efficient?
Cable television was one of our most least efficient household expenses. How do I measure the efficiency of a household expense? By measuring the return received from paying the expense. Return, in this sense, could mean entertainment, knowledge, or some other hard-to-quantify intangible.
My power bill is a fairly efficient expense. I essentially pay for the number of kilowatts my home uses during a billing cycle. If I can deal with the teeth chattering and evil stares from family members, I can turn off the heat pump in winter and save a few dollars.
For just a few dollars, I can buy a gallon of gasoline and power my truck 22 miles on the interstate. If I want to save money on gas, I could drive a cheaper-to-operate automobile, or simply drive less. That’s a fairly efficient expense.
Not so with cable. I pay the same ridiculous $70 a month, plus another $16 to enjoy DVR service, plus those ridiculous nickel-and-dime fees and taxes, whether I watch all 232 channels, or just one (or none). I hate this type of arrangement, because I have little control over the amount I pay each month. I’d much rather pay for consumption than availability.
Hulu vs Cable: Programming Options
I decided to check out Hulu Plus while we still had cable. I figured the worst thing that could happen is I try the service, decide I like cable TV better, and be out on the annoyance of signing up for a free, two-week trial and then canceling. After a week, I was hooked, and further motivated to dump cable.
With Hulu Plus (which is accessible via a device you probably already have in your home – a computer, an Xbox 360, a Blu-Ray player or television with online connectivity, etc), I can watch just about any basic network program (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) the day after it airs live. I can also watch hundreds of old programs, documentaries, etc. on demand whenever I want.
Hulu vs. Cable: What About Monday Night Football?
When evaluating Hulu vs cable, you have to take into consideration the loss of sports programming and other live events. While I am not a sports junkie, but I do enjoy football and occasionally watch the local news to stay on top of what’s happening around me. Fortunately, this programming is accessible for free using a digital/HDTV antenna and a digital ready television (most new televisions are digital ready, but check to be sure before buying an antenna).
We bought a MoHu Leaf HDTV indoor antenna for around $35 on Amazon. The antenna screws directly into the coax cable connection on our TV and mounts on the wall (with the included velcro tabs) next to the television. A quick scan of the available programming yielded 9 channels (mileage varies depending on your location to the nearest tower, where you place the antenna, your home’s configuration, etc.).
We now receive ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, PBS Kids, PBS Education, a local weather channel, and a local entertainment/public information channel for free.
Yes, I do miss ESPN and Fox News, but I can watch sporting events at a local restaurant or sports bar on the rare occasion I am interested, and I get most of my news from the Internet these days. If I start to miss all those old channels, I remind myself we are saving over $1,000 a year by making this move alone. That alone helped make the “Hulu vs cable” decision for me.
The battle between Hulu vs cable is still evolving, with more programming being added to Hulu’s service all the time. You have to wonder if this won’t be the preferred television programming service of the future.