So the time has come for me to finally make a decision on this whole cable tv vs. streaming thing I’ve been seriously considering. The straw that broke the camel’s back? A bill from the cable company for $170. Yep, for the first time in a while, I’m actually paying more for cable than I am for electricity.
Dumping cable has been on my mind for the last year. Quite honestly, I don’t think I watch enough live TV to justify paying for it, and even when I do, I end up watching crap that I ultimately feel guilty about. Not only that, we’ve been streaming Netflix to our TV via the Wii for the last several months and more recently, Jabari hooked up one of his computers to the main living room TV so now we can watch anything from the Internet. In fact I can’t remember the last time I turned on the cable box.
For a while Apple TV was a strong contender. It’s cute, small, went well with our dark furniture and was only $99. However, after reading this review about Apple TV’s disappointing content options, I considered the alternative mentioned in that same article, Roku.
Roku is a streaming content box ranges from $59 to $99, each with varying features. The biggest plus however are the content options. Roku can stream from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, AND Pandora (among other various music and video streaming services). For about the same price as Apple TV, I could get the Roku and have access to tons more content options from Amazon Video and Hulu Plus (Amazon being the big winner). And I don’t see Apple adopting the Amazon Video network anytime soon considering they’re the closest competitor to iTunes.
Breaking It Down
Ok so being the nerd that I am, I had to calculate this decision logically:
|Cost of Cable (Internet and TV)||Cost of Roku|
|Cable TV and High Speed Internet $170 per month (or $2,040 annually)||High Speed Internet – Assuming this would be around $70 per month (or $840 annually)Roku Box $99
= Total annual investment starting at $1,288
Notice how in the Roku column, I said the total annual investment STARTED at $1,288. I wrote it this way because there’s the added cost of buying and/or renting movies and TV shows from Amazon Video. And yes, I’m ok with buying TV shows and movies via Amazon. Here’s why:
If you subtract the base annual investment of a Roku from the annual cost of cable ($2,040 – $1,288 = $752)
Even if we were to call it even and I were to spend that leftover $752 on movie rentals or TV shows, that would equal to about:
752 / .99 = ~760 TV episodes
752/ 3.99 = ~188 Movie rentals
I can guarantee you there’s no way I’ve watched 760 episodes of live TV in a year or 188 movies in a year. So ultimately even if I were to spend about half that leftover money on entertainment (which I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach that), that still leaves me with an extra $380 annually. Also, I omitted my Netflix subscription because I’m still paying for that regardless.
And even if the Roku were to break halfway through the year and I’d have to buy a replacement, I’d still save money overall.
(BTW, I’m terrible at math–I’d be surprised if I’m calculating any of this correctly)
The verdict? Clearly it’s Roku, even after reading Danny Sullivan’s post over at Search Engine Land on his first impressions on Roku. The cons he listed were minor to me (lack of a volume control on the remote and no “what’s on” screen). And as long as I can still watch episodes of 30 Rock, The Office, and Bones while still being able to discover new shows that aren’t crap TV, I think I’d still be ok. Now it’s just a matter of me having that awkward breakup call with the cable company.
Is there a flaw in my logic? Am I missing something?