Family Entertainment Experiment for 2011

This year we are going to be trying a new media front. A new means to bring outside content to us. We are tired of the high cable costs we spend. It wouldn’t be so bad if the channels had decent stuff on during the times we watch TV. Most of the shows my wife and I catch are always off the DVR.

What are we paying $70 or more a month for? We watch the same content over and over when we aren’t using the DVR? Reruns of The Office, My Name is Earl, Suite Life on Deck, iCarly, etc. We pay for 300+ channels where we probably only watch 10%. Sounds like a big old waste of $840 a year. What how much…? I think smoking is still cheaper than cable TV.

We are looking into set top boxes to deliver online content to our TV. Something usable, easy, and reliable. Something that supports Netflix (which is everything these days), Hulu Plus, Pandora, and options for user created content. Those are just the necessities. The big players in my search are the Apple TV, Roku XDS, or Boxee. Apple TV is too limited for me. Being what some claim “Apple Fanboy”, I do not own enough IOS devices to make it worthwhile. I’ve heard great things about Roku and they are half the price of the Boxxee. The Boxxee design and awkward cube look is quite the conversation piece. However, content options and price points it will be a Roku XDS in the near future.

Two big downfalls, sort of, is teaching everyone how to adapt to a non-cable provider way of watching TV. My wife is leery on new technology. The other is lack of sports. I don’t watch a lot of sports these days. I can get my soccer fix with ESPN 3. Football is going to be my biggest loss. I guess with the money I’m saving I can walk down to the bar and watch. Or I’m coming over to your place to watch the game and drink your beer. Or pay the premium fee to stream hockey games. (Experiment begins after Super Bowl next month.)

My quick cost numbers is $100 for the Roku and about $200 a year for Netflix and Hulu which means a savings of over $500.

Plus, we are hoping that if we have more structured content to watch, we might watch less of it. We definitely won’t be watching the same rerun sitcoms between 10PM and midnight anymore. (If we do need our Office fix, we will just stream it from one source or another.) Might even free up more time for video games and board games.

Netflix/Blockbuster Here I Come

I just received my latest cable company bill and was surprised by yet another increase that occured over the last year. Thanks a lot RCN. This time the Showtime/Starz/Cinemax/ETC channels went up to $30 a month. Overall, it is not a bad price if you watch a lot of movies. We used to and always grabbed stuff ON DEMAND since what we wanted to watch was never on when we wanted. Lately, a lot of the movies suck or we just have no interest in. Plus, the ON DEMAND menus are becoming slower and slower with RCN to navigate. It looks like I am dropping the premium movie channels at the end of the billing cycle.The only thing that really sucks is they group the digital music channels with the movie channels. I will definetly miss those 40+ music channels.

In its place I was thinking of either restarting my Blockbuster Online account or starting up with Netflix. Both companies have great response times on delivery and the selections are pretty damn close.

Hopefully my next cable/internet/phone bill will be below $150.

Too bad Gamefly got too expensive or I would restart that service as well.