If you are like many younger folks, you may not watch a lot of live TV any more — at least not synchronously. Mostly gone are the days where everyone sat and watched the 6 o’clock news or “The Wizard of Oz.”
These days, people stream movies and TV shows from services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu.
If you use a pay TV service — like cable or dish — but you find yourself watching less and less actual TV, you may want to investigate a TV-over-the-internet option. (If you use an antenna to get local channels, you may still benefit from getting additional programming from one of these services, but it won’t save you any money.)
Online TV services allow you to watch via your computer, tablet or phone, but don’t limit you to a small screen. With the right adapters (dongles), you can connect your computer to a TV, projector or large monitor in your home. If you have a “smart TV” that connects to the internet, you may be able to connect these services to your TV directly.
Today’s column will provide an overview of a few possible services and what you need to think about in order to decide what option is best for you. First, ask yourself:
1. How often do I want to watch TV as it happens? This would include mostly news or sports.
2. Do I watch mostly “cable channels” like TNT, AMC, etc.; local stations like WGN (Channel 9), TMJ4; or premium channels like HBO or Starz?
3. If I have a few favorite TV shows, do I mind watching them a day or two (or even months) later?
4. How important is it to be able to watch the shows I like whenever I want to? (Ask this if you use DVR with your cable TV service.)
5. How much money could I save if I replaced my cable TV subscription with a helpful online service? How much money do I WANT to save?
A few online TV services are listed below, which we will explore in coming weeks. Note that these TV services are NOT repositories like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Their role is to let you watch the programs and movies that are on TV NOW or that were recently on TV.
So, for example, if you decide you want to watch “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” you can see if it exists on Netflix (it does), but it won’t be on any of the TV services unless it happens to be playing now or recently on one of the TV stations included in that service.
However, if you like to “channel surf” and see what’s on now, these services use that paradigm:
YouTube TV is probably the most deluxe service. Includes local and cable channels. $40 per month. Free five-day trial.
Philo is a lower-cost TV service ($16 to $20 per month) that includes cable channels but not locals. Free one-week trial.
Spectrum TV Stream is Time Warner’s (now Spectrum’s) online TV service. Check with Spectrum for various packages and costs.
Next week we will also explore how to supplement your watching with Amazon Prime, Hulu, CWSeed and various channel-specific sites.
Carol Sabbar is the director of computer services at Carthage College. Send email to email@example.com.