Save on cable & satellite - MoneySense

Save on cable & satellite

Do you know you can get many of the same shows you watch on television free over the internet? No catch, maybe a little hassle. But the savings are significant.



Most people aren’t such avid watchers of television that they need 24/7 access. In fact, for some, the fact that a show airs at a particular time on a particular day can be a drag. Shift-workers and early-to-bedders (like me) want to watch when it’s convenient, not just when it’s on.

Enter the internet, which has allowed broadcasters to break free from using cable and satellite providers’ infrastructure to broadcast their content.

My daughter and all her friends are already getting their TV shows when they want them on their laptops. Want to watch on your big-screen TV at home? No problem. Get yourself a high-speed internet connection, a DDMI cable and a HTPC (a home-theatre PC) which cost about the same as three months’ worth of premium cable … so every month after you’re in the money.

The downsides are few but you need to be aware of them. Constantly streaming video will tax your internet bandwidth limits so if you have a download cap, you have to be careful how much TV you watch. Maybe not such a bad thing, eh? Sometimes streaming can be slow, the picture may freeze or be grainy. You can pause the show to let it buffer or do a quick page refresh.

Another downside, which can be overcome easily if you’ve a mind to, is that content is spread out – there’s no on-screen menu – so you have to figure out who will let you watch which show where. Once you have, you’re off to the races.

If you want to watch U.S. networks, you’ll have to do an end-around because signals can’t be broadcast into Canada. What you’ll need is a free internet proxy like HotspotShield that assigns you a U.S. IP address to give you access to American programming.

With premium cable costing $100 to $140 a month, finding ways to cut your costs could put $1,000 a year back into your pocket for savings.