Can Apple TV replace cable?
With the announcement of the new Apple TV comes a new wave of questions from the media asking if cable TV can be replaced by internet video. So I decided to do the math. I’m also in a certain time in life where I’m having to make this decision for myself, so it seems like a good time to discuss this issue.
I’m sure you don’t care about my personal life, so I’ll be vague: I need to cut my monthly budget back by a lot. I’ve been looking at where all of my money goes, and one easy way to cut spending is by canceling my cable service (which is approximately $49 per month with an HD DVR). Obviously this would mean I would have to cut my television entertainment back to what is available online. I’ve lived this way before, so I’m OK with that, but I still want to watch shows on my 50-inch TV. I’m already using my PS3 to stream Netflix video, but there are other shows I enjoy watching that aren’t available on Netflix.
Just for fun I wanted to find out how much I pay my cable provider for each show I watch. I was interested to see if paying for cable was a cost effective way to enjoy these programs. Results will vary, but I am paying about $0.53 for each program.
Would you pay $0.50 to stream a TV program online?
If you had to consciously consider how much each program actually costs, would you spend that money? Apple is betting on it with their new renting structure. Of course Apple is charging $0.99 for each program, (and now Amazon is charging that much as well).
Now, some of these shows are available free from Hulu, or the broadcasters’ website. Apple TV doesn’t allow streaming from those sources – unlike competing boxes such as Roku and Boxee. But even if I removed those free programs from my calculations, I’m still paying a comparable amount for renting TV programs.
Is streaming video cost effective?
Some of you use torrents, or other unofficial free websites to obtain video, and those certainly are cheaper (the Federal government picks up the tab), but for the rest of us, it really depends on how much TV you watch.
I might watch upwards of 90 TV programs every month, and if I had to pay for each one of those, I would certainly find cable to be cheaper. Cable also provides television like EPSN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, CBS Sports, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, news, and more. If I cancel my cable will I miss out on Project Runaway, Rubicon, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad?
I guess the coming years will have a lot of people asking themselves all of these questions, and we’ll have to consider every entertainment program as a consumer purchase. I’m sure in the future the cable companies might use their high-tech fiber optic lines to also provide every program on demand. And I hope they only charge $0.50 per program.