Forbes reported that 2.9 million people dumped pay TV for good in 2018. Unfortunately, for most of us the cheapest way to watch TV is not super easy to set up on your own. It certainly can be done, but without professional help it might not save you much money in the long run. Why? Because you need to calculate the cost of internet only services + streaming services and then factor in 15% price raises every year. The streaming package that costs $50 per month now will cost you $65 in less than two years. In a few years it will cost you the same as it does now and you will need to support it yourself.
Commercials on TV right now extol the virtues of streaming services like YouTubeTV, Hulu Live and PS Vue. What these commercials fail to mention is the cost of internet only, the cost of hardware upgrades and data caps. No doubt, these services have changed the way many people think about watching TV. However, in order to work well, reliably, and cost effectively, you need to understand all the factors at play.
First, in order to get the best internet price you need to understand the difference between WiFi speeds and Internet speeds. You could be paying for a 1000 MBPS of data but your WiFi may only be capable of 500 MBPS. But that is not a common issue and it is not the real issue. The real issue is much more complicated because it has very little to do with internet or WiFi speed. It has everything to do with WiFi technology. If you don’t have the correct WiFi tech installed and configured correctly, you could end up with lots of buffering.
You see, the hardest thing to do on the internet is streaming live TV. Why is this so difficult? Think of it this way: in order for your TV signal to be reliable, your connection to the source needs to be uninterrupted. This is live TV after all. A single interruption can cause you to miss an important touchdown or piece of news. Services like email, and even Netflix to a certain degree, don’t need uninterrupted WiFi. The technical details of packet routing and caching exceed the scope of this article but there is a reason you can send email from an airplane’s WiFi and not watch live news at 35,000 feet.
Unfortunately, the commercials about streaming services like YouTube TV, PS Vue and Hulu Live don’t tell you that you need to spend $200 – $300 to upgrade your WiFi. Nor do they tell you what speed you should be paying for from your internet service provider (ISP). Of course, your ISP will tell you that you always need more speed but if you upgrade your WiFi that might not be the case. You may be able to lower your speed and still get incredible service. Of course, you won’t know until you try it out. And then, if you are not familiar with TCP/IP protocols, you might set up the WiFi in a sub optimal way. It will take you forever to figure out the right solution. And it will cost you time and money.
And then there are data caps. If your household watches more than six hours of TV a day then you could be in real trouble. Many major ISPs cap the amount of data you can use in a month. If you exceed that cap, then you will be forced to pay more…a lot more to watch TV. Streaming live TV uses a lot more data per month than Netflix or email.
So, what is the cheapest way to watch TV? To answer this question we need to talk about HD Antenna + HD Streaming. By combining the TV data signals captured via antenna with HD signals from streaming services you get the best of both worlds at a much lower price. Anytime you watch a major broadcaster (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, CW) via antenna, then you do not use up your data cap. These data signals are free, flying all around you right now and guaranteed to most of us by the FCC. This means you can watch as much of these channels as you like…24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you integrate HD antenna signals with less expensive HD streaming services, then you will save the most money.