American consumers have been watching their favorite television programs and movies in more or less the same fashion for the past several decades: all completely at the mercy of their cable providers, their budgets, and their daily schedule. It’s far from uncommon to miss your favorite show because of your work or personal schedules, and even with the typical go-to DVR solution, subscribers still face annoyances like increased monthly cable bills, having to remember to schedule a recording, and the limited amount of storage space within the DVR that forces the user to delete recorded shows.
As convenient as a DVR service may still seem, there’s an even better solution out there which allows you to watch exactly what you want, when you want, and where you want to watch it. Although it made its first appearance over a decade ago, online video streaming has only become a popular and mainstream mode of media viewing over the past five or six years, shortly after the streaming giant, Netflix, developed their first HTTP-based streaming service.
For $9.99 a month (about the cost of two of your favorite Starbucks lattés), users can now stream close to 15,000 titles from their phones, tablets, computers, or smart-enabled TVs at their own convenience—no more struggling with aging DVR software, programming scheduled recordings and deletions, or calls to your cable provider to replace faulty cable boxes. But the advantages don’t stop there.
While Netflix may have pioneered the modern video-streaming industry, other providers soon followed, such as Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, Sling, and many more. While traditional cable viewers are still watching television limited by time slots and bloated with about 25% advertisements, those who have dropped this archaic form of media for online streaming are leading a new wave of media viewing called cord cutting, and almost all of these services cost under $10 a month, offer ad-free viewing, and some even offer streaming resolutions in 4k ultra-HD—that’s four times the resolution of current HD 1080p programs.
The year is 2015, and television programming has been a mainstream source of entertainment media since for over half a century. At one point in time, it may have been fine to watch Ricky and Lucy’s antics at regular programmed time slots, but today’s lifestyle isn’t as flexible as it once was, making regular free time an increasingly rare commodity. If you’re still subscribed to solely cable-based television, it’s never too late to “cut the cord” and make the switch. But let’s face it: there are better, cheaper, and more convenient ways to watch your favorite shows, and while it’s up to the individual to decide whether cord cutting is right for them, excuses for paying for traditional cable television are ever receding as online streaming becomes more mainstream.