Do you wish you could break up with cable, but your internet isn’t good enough to watch streaming content?
I feel your pain.
When I was in college, I loved watching hulu on the school’s library computers because the internet was SO FAST. Nothing lagged, nothing buffered. It was perfect.
But when I went home (a 30 minute drive away to a dinky town) it was a vastly different story.
Streaming was frustrating to say the least. The only way I could watch anything was to pause a 3 minute music video on youtube for 30 minutes and wait for it to fully load before watching it. It was straight up sad.
Now I (thankfully) live in a place with great internet, but I know that many people in the US (especially in rural areas) are not so lucky.
If you have bad internet, but would LOVE to stop paying your giant cable bill, allow me to introduce you to 5 options to lower your entertainment costs- even when you have a bad (or straight up non-existent) internet connection.
Make sure you’re not missing something
First off, just to cover all your bases, make sure you do indeed only have the options of crappy and crappier internet.
I know, I know- usually in rural areas and tiny towns there is only one, maybe two, internet providers and they all want big bucks for little speed. But there may be a new company in town or plans for new lines being installed. Search around and make some phone calls to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Also, try to talk to someone local- flag down an internet company service vehicle if you have to -they will know for sure if DSL is offered in your area.
Sometimes the company maps and zipcodes aren’t up to snuff, or the contact you had didn’t have the right information. So, give them a call back and get a second opinion.
Some areas of the country just plain do not have DSL or Cable internet providers. But there is an alternative that is often used in more rural areas called wireless internet. It essentially works like over the air TV or Radio; antennas send and catch the internet signals. This can be hit or miss depending if you live with lots of obstructions like trees, hills, mountains, or tall buildings. To find a wireless internet service provider (WISP) near you, check out this WISP search directory. If one is nearby, call the company and talk to them about your options. You may just luck out and get great internet, after all.
Create wifi with your smartphone
When you want to stream shows at home, it may be cheaper in the long run to get a data or hotspot plan through your phone carrier. You can then (sometimes very cheaply) create a hotspot with your phone and be able to use it to gain access to better internet.
The only caveat here is if you will be able to get a good enough signal. If you can get a decent cell signal where you live, call your cell phone company and ask for pricing. Compare that cost with the cost of your cable bill. You might just save a lot of money and get a faster internet speed as well. Go here to learn more about how to setup and use a mobile wifi hotspot.
Download content to watch offline
If better internet just isn’t in the cards for you right now, keep your chin up. Networks are always expanding and new companies crop up all the time. In the meantime, you can still enjoy some of the great content available online by downloading it to view when you are offline.
Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu now all have options for subscribers to download content for mobile offline viewing. You may have to wait quite a bit for your slow connection to download the shows you want, or you could go into town with a portable device and use free public wifi at a coffee shop or library.
Once your content is downloaded, you can watch your shows and movies offline without getting annoyed with all the buffering and loading. The only downside is that for some of these sites you only have options to view downloaded content on a phone or tablet. But this may change in the future as this feature is fairly new.
Another option for viewing offline is using a service called Play On. With prices starting at $7.99 a month to $69.99 for lifetime membership, Play On can download content from anywhere on the web to your desktop or network connected device and make it available for offline viewing. It even works on a Roku by using the Yahoo View app.
Play On also offers a cloud version that costs $0.99 per download, but you can watch it from a TV, iPhone, iPad, (Android coming soon) or computer.
If you can get a good enough internet connection to just download the content, your buffering days are over. Oh, and Play On also skips ads. 🙂 Try PlayOn today with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Borrow, Rent, or Buy DVDs
Sometimes you gotta take it old school to save money. Using DVDs might not be a preferred option for your situation, but it’s worth considering. Plenty of entertainment comes from DVDs, from enjoying a new release movie, to binge watching your favorite TV seasons. I compiled a list of all the frugal ways you can get your hands on some DVDs here.
Negotiate with your cable provider
With so many people cutting cable, lots of networks are losing viewers. And it has caused a panic among the networks and cable providers- so much so that they are trying to compete more with the cheaper streaming options.
Many cable providers are no longer pushing the giant packages and instead are offering more economically priced smaller packages (in the $10 range). And some even offer small packages according to genre. Call up your cable provider and ask around. They may surprise you with some of the changes they’ve made.
If they don’t offer you anything lower priced, then you can always threaten to walk. They may offer you something better to keep a customer. I remember when my family was cancelling our satellite TV, we had one month of service left and the company called us back every week for that month with an ever lower offer to try and get us to reconsider. We ultimately decided to cancel anyway, but the deals they were offering were enticing. You may be able to have similar luck and get a scorching good deal yourself.
After trying to get the best internet available where you live, you still can save money on TV entertainment by watching content offline, going old school with DVDs, or negotiating with your cable provider. Whichever route you take, it can save you a lot of money.