Online Entertainment Alternatives to Satellite and Cable Programming

I would love to tell my cable company to take a hike. It seems like every six months I call and ask them to lower my bill or else I’ll move over to satellite. But even I know this is an empty threat. Satellite prices are just as bad, if not worse than the price for cable. Factor in the multiple HDTVs I have and the fact that I can’t just settle for the basic programming – the price for television entertainment in the Joynt household is ridiculous.

So I start to ask myself – “Self, what do I really want in home entertainment?”

The answer is actually clearer than I thought. I can do without basic cable programming except my wife likes to watch The Biggest Loser and all those silly dance and singing competition shows. We both love almost all of the HD channels like Discovery, A&E, and SyFy. We also enjoy premium movie channels, but most of the time the movies aren’t what we really want to watch – so this seems like a waste of money. Oh, and I also can’t live without my sports programming.

I started to think about the possibility of connecting my computer to my TV. This way we could watch all the TV shows and some of the sports we wanted online, but we would likely lose some of the HD programming and the online sports subscription packages are expensive. Apple TV is cool, but I already have my MacBook and I don’t really want to have to purchase another piece of hardware when cable already offers similar on-demand programming. So I’m still looking for other alternatives.

Then I see that Netflix started to offer instantly streaming movies and TV shows. Awesome! I can now cancel my premium cable channels knowing I can download the exact movie I want, when I want for like $11 per month. I can instantly play them on my computer or TV (through my Blu-Ray DVD player) at my will. Score!

I also notice that for $36 per year, I can stream unlimited music from Pandora to my TV and home entertainment system through my Blu-Ray DVD player. Score!

My wife loves to watch inspirational movies in particular, so we landed on a Spiritual Cinema Circle membership for $25 per month. This includes four new movies every month – sent to our house – ours to keep forever. I like this club especially because I can share these DVDs with family and friends.

One thing my wife loves about cable is the on-demand workouts. In particular, she likes to do yoga at home. Searching for online yoga I found the Gaiam Yoga Club. For $5 per week she gets all of the yoga she wants and she has even successfully developed her own home yoga practice.

Then I saw the biggest news of all and something that could really change the game. Google TV was announced in May 2010 as a new platform aiming to bring the Web and all its glory to TV. I know, I know – others have tried this before including Apple TV. But unlike Apple, Google is willing to create partnerships with the likes of Sony, Logitech, Intel and Dish Network. In my opinion, this sets the stage for a successful campaign. The first Internet-enabled TV (Sony) that runs Google’s software is scheduled to launch by the fall of 2010 and it promises to provide “richer internet access (to your TV) so you can browse the web just like you would from a computer.”

Ultimately, it looks like we’ll all have to wait and see how this shakes out. In a press release from Dish Network, the company claims Google TV will debut as a compliment to current satellite programming. Will Google create a similar partnership with cable? If not, will cable subscribers continue being customers? Along with my other subscriptions above, I really don’t think there will be another reason to keep the cable company.

The lines between cable/satellite programming and online entertainment are definitely beginning to blur. It will be interesting to see if online entertainment becomes competition or complimentary. For the sake of the price of home entertainment, I would love to only have to pay a monthly internet access bill and not a cable bill although for now it looks like Google TV may only be available through satellite subscription.

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