Family Entertainment Options

Money is tight in our house, so when it comes to movies we only go to the cinema when it’s something we really want to see on the big screen. The rest of the time we get our entertainment at home. Over the years we have tried several different options for meeting our entertainment needs and below is an outline of all the different services we have used.

This post is contributed by Christina Moore

Cable/Satellite

In an age when a lot of people are cutting the cord to save money, going with cable or satellite might seem like an expensive step backwards, but it works really well for us.  I got a really good deal on a package with internet, phone and television, that I felt I couldn’t pass up.

The big advantage to subscribing to a service is that it gives me the high speed internet I need, and the television content I want:

  • We have a DVR for our favorite shows, but we also have access to On-Demand content, including the premiums like HBO.
  • We can also watch our cable content using the provider’s app on a tablet, or smartphone; or we can use a Mac or PC to watch online.
  • With all of the premiums, we have access to first-run movies as well as the classics.
  • We also have one-stop access to all of our favorite educational channels.

Cable can be more expensive than streaming only, but there are ways to cut costs:

  • All of our premiums are part of a special package that costs much less than if we had purchased them individually;
  • We also have a family agreement that, if we need to tighten our belts, the premiums will be the first to go;
  • Because we can access all of our content by tablet, smartphone, or PC we only need one cable box, which means lower equipment costs;
  • We always check in with the cable company to see if there are any specials or deals for current subscribers.

If you are interested in subscribing to a cable or satellite service, you should first find out what options are available in your area, and then check their websites for specials and deals. You can also check discount sites, which sometimes have online-only promotions that are different from what you would find at the provider site. For example, in the U.S. you can Get a Verizon triple play promotion today; you can find something similar for Sky TV in the U.K.

Streaming Only

We tried streaming only for over a year, with Netflix and Amazon Prime, with mixed results.

The big advantage to streaming only was the cost.

  • Netflix costs about £6 per month (£7 per month for HD streaming and £9 per month for Ultra HD) and Amazon Prime costs £79 per year, which averages out to a little over £6 per month.
  • If a movie wasn’t already on one of the services, we could pay extra to rent it from Amazon.
  • With both services, and the occasional rental, our average monthly entertainment expense was less than £30 for a family of three, not including the cost of the internet access.

The big disadvantage was that the services didn’t always offer what we needed, when we needed them.

  • There were  a lot of movies that weren’t available streaming, so we had to pay extra to rent them;
  • We couldn’t watch our favorite HBO shows, like Game of Thrones; and
  • We couldn’t watch any first-run broadcast TV. If we wanted to watch something that had aired that week, we either had to watch it at friends’ houses, or find a way to watch it online;

Another issue was that, our internet provider at the time was really slow, which is why we had to upgrade to fiber optics.

Today, we watch the bulk of our programming through our TV provider, but we keep Netflix handy for when we want to watch originals like Orange is the New Black.

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