Streaming Services

Parent Q&A

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  • Seeking current advice about how to watch professional sports live on TV--basketball, football, tennis in particular--that's cheaper than the "limited basic' cable plan we have with Comcast. We also have subscriptions to Amazon Video and Disney Plus for kids' shows. These three subscriptions combined make up a huge portion of our household bills and I'd love to reduce our costs. I could see us purchasing an indoor digital antenna for local channels which would give us a few events but that wouldn't meet our needs entirely, and it's possibly too windy where we live to use an outdoor antenna. Is a satellite dish still a 'thing'? Has anyone tried Sling, which now offers local networks in addition to streaming ESPN and other channels? Any other creative options out there for an avid sports fan?

    Would love some basic education about what the current choices and tradeoffs are--either direct advice from BPN community or online sources. I feel like I'm in the dark ages and am daunted by the transition to something that may not meet our needs. Many thanks!

    I looked into this before the start of the NBA season. I had stripped my services down to a Comcast FlexStream box and a couple of streaming services that I could activate/pause as I used them. But, I missed watching live sports and various awards shows in real time. 

    Long story short, I found that the easiest and most cost effective option (which was still very expensive in my opinion) was to sign up for cable tv service through Comcast again. Anything I could patch together with streaming services ended up costing more or the same and was more of a hassle. I continue to toggle my streaming services on/off. I'll cancel cable service and go back to FlexStream (online or phone order, no equipment change) at the end of basketball season. This approach takes attention and vigilance, but gives me my lowest yearly entertainment cost.

    We've never had cable - there's a Disney+Hulu+ESPN bundle you can get - seems like that would be your best bet for live sports! We get all the over the air channels like ABC and FOX for sports for free, and Sling is ok but we dropped it when we had too many streaming service and no time to watch all of them!

    We ditched cable and got YouTube tv because my son wanted full access to live sports. It has ads, which I hate, but so does cable. I think it’s about $60/month, which may not be a savings for you.

    My husband watches sports (basket ball, football, F1 racing) on YouTube tv. It’s a paid service and has a high monthly fee. But they allow sharing up to 6 accounts, so splitting it with friend could make it more affordable. 

    This took us forever to figure out and a lot of trial and error.  Our system now is we use Hulu as our primary subscription service (so we get almost all live sports) and then we also subscribe to specific apps like apple tv and netflix for other shows we like.  Our bill is less than half of what it was (including using sonic now for internet).  Good luck.

    I believe this is possible with a YouTube TV subscription. My parents got rid of their cable subscription a couple of years ago and switched to YouTube TV and my dad uses it to watch sports. I'm not sure whether this will be less or more expensive for you, however.

    We recently moved and ditched Xfinity (Comcast) for YouTube TV. My husband watches sports and the kids watch Nick Jr, Disney Channel, PBS Kids, Etc. It works for us. It was $64.99 when we first signed up. In April it's gone up to $72.99. It's high but still cheaper than what we were paying for Xfinity. You can also add family members to your acct. 

  • My Comcast bill is $170 a month. This is a bundled package, but, I don't use the landline.  We barely watch TV anymore.....we stream the occasional Amazon or Roku movie and my husband watches a couple of shows at night.  Really, we are only using the internet service.  This is in addition to the $204 a month charge for the cell phones. THIS IS SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS.  How do I lower this bill?  What are my options to get rid of the $170 charge? Thank you for help.

    My wife and I cancelled our TV subscription and now only use Comcast for internet (although we're considering going with a lower cost option there as well). We use Netflix and Hulu for any TV shows we want to watch and will stream the occasional movie through our apple TV. You might consider going that route as well as removing the landline to save costs.

    I cut cable a while ago and never look back. I have sonic for internet ($60/month), because I dont want to negotiate with comcast every year to lower my cable. I got tv antennna (around $50 one time cost), I have netflix ($10/month), amazon (around $10/month paid yearly), sling tv (around $20/month), and I got hbo only during GOT shows. My total cost around $100/month plus HBO as needed. You can cut the cord, seriously! Especially if you dont watch tv much. Also, somwtimes you paid lots of money for faster internet service thru Comcast that actually not necessary. Comcast also doesnt guarantee you get the speed that you paid. I think $100/month is still a lot, but not having to deal with Comcast is priceless.

    Call and cancel, that's how you do it.  Cut down to internet only service.  Then, figure out how you can get the content you want, which you can do over time after cutting the cord.  Worst thing that happens is you call up Comcast a couple months down the road and ask them to turn the cable back on; they'll be thrilled, you will have saved a couple of hundred bucks in the intervening months, and you'll have learned that a cable bill is worth it to you.   In terms of finding the content you want outside of Comcast, first, if it is broadcast TV, obviously, connect an antenna.  Free TV!  For time-shifting, a lot of broadcast tv is avaliable for free on the network websites (if you don't mind watching on a computer or can otherwise get that content on your tv screen) or on regular (free) Hulu.  For non-broadcast, it sounds like you already have the hardware to use streaming services services, and that you're already paying for some of them, so just figure out which ones have the shows you want. You may need to add some service subscriptions, but even accounting for those monthly charges, you will likely still come out ahead.  Another option is buying seasons one at a time from Amazon - we did this when Planet Earth II was showing on BBC America, and the Amazon episodes were available one week at a time, as they were broadcast.  Depending on your viewing habits, this can be cheaper than the monthly subscriptions. 

    Easy.  A lot of things are à la carte these days.  We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu.  Together these are about $20/mo.  We also have Amazon Prime, which I think is $99/yr.  And we just signed up for HBONow (mainly for GOT, this season of which will end next week- not sure if we'll continue).  If we had a TV, I guess we could get a few of the network stations, and PBS, which I do miss (but a lot of that content is online too).  We use and highly recommend Sonic.net (they're local, fast, committed to privacy, and have good customer service).  We just got back from a 3 wk vacation where we had access to basic cable.  We don't miss it one bit.  It's easy to cut the cord!  

    Hi there,

    Call the loyalty department and tell them you are going to cancel the whole thing unless they can cut your bill down. Sounds like you have the Triple Play when you only want or need Internet. This works for me. They keep sneaking the prices up,  but you do have some leverage. They really don't want to lose you as a customer.

    Just phone Comcast and tell them you only want the internet service.

    We cut the cord a couple of years ago. We have 3 smart tvs, and subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon prime. ($28 a month for all three.) Also, we bought a hd digital antenna that gets all the local channels +. It's a small indoor box . If you don't have a smart tv, your Roku should work fine. $69 for internet access. Grand total for all the tv you can ever watch-$97 mo.

    I highly recommend Sonic (www.sonic.net).  Great deals for DSL internet and landline bundles; it's actually AT&T lines underneath, but with far better pricing for more features.  Outstanding customer service, and business ethics too.  We're paying just $67/month!  However, the DSL may not be as fast as you're used to with Comcast; Sonic's speeds depend on your location, but you can also upgrade for higher speeds if necessary.

    We have a family plan with three cell phones with T-Mobile for less than $110/month. Coverage is generally fine.

    LMI charges about $50/month for rapid wi fi, a land line with free long distance. If you are in the Berkeley area, you should call them, to determine if they service your area.

    Try Sonic if available in your area. Pretty reliable phone/internet service with a good price and excellent customer service.

  • Get local TV stations without cable?

    (8 replies)

    Hello,

    This is Dennis.We live on McKinley Ave in Berkeley just behind City Hall. We would like to get local TV stations such as channel 7 and channel 9 with a simple digital TV and antenna. Does anyone know if this is doable?: We would like to get rid of our Comcast.

    Thanks--Dennis

    Yes, you can. We have one and we live near you. It works well. Just google indoor digital TV antenna. Places like Best Buy have them. 

    Hi Dennis! We live in North Oakland and have never had cable. For years, we have used a simple and cheap antenna that I think we got from Radio Shack for regular TV. We keep it in a nearby window for the best reception and get all local stations without any problems.

    The TV signals mostly come from SF (I think) and you are far up enough the hill that you should get a pretty decent signal.  I did living in near you recently although it was in a high rise.   Main thing is patience with fine-tuning where you put your antenna.  Expect to spend a little time putting it somewhere, running the channel scan on your TV, putting it there and running it again, etc. etc.  Surprisingly small movements can change the results considerably.   We've had good results with a Mohu Leaf antenna.  Good set of trust-able reviews here http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-indoor-hdtv-antenna/  You'll also ve stunned at how may over the air channels there are out there.  Still not much good on, but we get @60 channels.  

    There's no "cable" vs no monthly bill. To not have a bill from any service you will need an indoor antenna. They are inexpensive and will do what rabbit ears did for our older analog TV sets. Here is a link to help get the best reception: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/10/5-tips-for-getting-the-b...

    Hello Dennis, I live closer to Gilman and San Pablo (so reception might be different in your neighborhood) and got rid of cable years ago. We use an indoor digital antenna (ClearStream Eclipse™ Amplified Sure Grip Indoor HDTV Antenna) with the optional booster. We get channels 4,5,7,9, plus a whole bunch more we do not usually watch and use a Roku for Netflix and Amazon streaming. Best of luck!

    Yes. With a digital TV and antenna (or analog TV and converter box) you can get all the major broadcast stations (PBS, ABC, NBC...and more).

    Very doable. You can buy antennas off of Amazon - definitely read the reviews first, some are better than others. We live in Albany, have used an antenna for years, and get about 60 channels. The downside is that reception can be a bit unpredictable - once in a while, we'll have to shift the antenna a bit and re-scan around for better reception. But, generally speaking, totally meets our needs. 

    If the indoor antenna doesn't work as well as you hope, get a preamplifier (sold as a digital signal booster). We did that when we had trouble getting KNTV (Channel 11) in your neighborhood and it helped. (KNTV has since moved their transmitter, so I don't know if it's still an issue).