Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Saving money on cable TV - without losing anything

Did you know that cable companies offer limited basic service?    Some cable companies must not tell customers about it because I've talked to a lot of folks who don't know anything at all about it.

Since I don't watch much TV (like many other people these days), I downgraded to  limited basic service and shaved a lot of  dollars  off of my bill. What do I get now? With limited basic,  I still get channels 1 through 11, PBS, a few shopping channels, WGN, and CNBC.  

So what channels do I miss? Very few.  I did miss some sports and news channels, like CNN, MSNBC and ESPN. So I went hunting for free alternatives online. Here's what I found.

*ESPN 360 is available free for some folks (depending on your provider). It offers six simultaneous screens that play various sporting events, with live and replay viewings available. When the Australian Open was on, I could watch six courts at once. If you can't access that, try going to news sites in their video section for sports highlights.  Magazines like Sports Illustrated also have online sites with articles and videos. And, of course, there are many sports blogs for your favorite teams.

*For up to the date news, CNN has a free live news feed that works very well with a  plug in. Of course all the news stations offer videos now, many with players where you can set up a playlist or  choose to watch the most popular ones of the day and this is relatively hands free and effortless. 

*Free video podcasts. You can find podcasts for news, sports, comedy, books, films, and lectures. Some universities are now podcasting students' films, guest speaker appearances and events- free.

Considering the fact that I've discovered all of this for free online (that can be watched 'on demand'), I'm actually happier with my viewing options now. Less is more.  

Kind of makes me wonder why I was paying all that extra money. 

And, of course, there's Hulu to watch - which lets me do cool things like embed their videos, like this Super Bowl commercial.