Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is it time to end your love affair with cable t.v.?

Pay-per-view, or free,web-based on-demand viewing may be cheaper for you than your monthly cable bill.

With “all you can eat” television viewing, it’s easy to ignore what cable (or satellite) actually costs you per show. According to research conducted by the Center For Screen Time Viewing, the average American spends “four hours and thirty-five minutes per day” watching television. With an average cable bill of $71/month, according to Multichannel News, that comes out to be approximately $2.37/day, or nearly $0.10/hour. If you multiply $0.10/hour times the average number of hours watched, that comes out to be more than $0.44/day in television viewing. Broken out even further, about $0.015/show.

Perform this exercise: the next time you have a session in front of the t.v., place the equivalent amount of coins (rounding as needed) down on your coffee table to illustrate what your viewing is actually costing you. Adds up quickly, doesn’t it? Now, if you actually had to feed your television like a parking meter, think you would you still watch it as often? Chances are there are many shows you would probably skip if you were charged on the spot to watch them.

While cutting your cable t.v. altogether still may seem impractical, you do have viable alternatives to simply "rabbit-ears" or antenna-based television reception.  While it might seem like it’s expensive at $1.99/show at iTunes, if you only really like to watch a couple of shows a season, and cannot be bothered by ad-based free television websites, such as Hulu, then it might be worth it to simply pay-per-view your favorite shows.  iTunes even has "season passes" which allow you to buy a season of one show to save you from being billed every week, and, at higher cost than individually purchasing a show.  Be careful about High Definition vs. lower grade viewing fidelity purchases.  You aren't going to notice much difference on a computer monitor, but iTunes will charge you more for HD purchases, so choose carefully.

If you can stand to wait a bit longer for some newer releases to come out, consider a subscription to Netflix. For about $10/month, you get access to thousands of television shows and movies, some even stream on-demand to your computer or specially equipped television.  It might be all you really need period.

Whichever you option you choose, keeping the status quo, or exploring alternatives, don’t look at your cable bill as simply another utility that must be paid.  Experiment and then crunch the numbers.