As you may have read from my wife, Stefanie, we have decided to pull the plug on cable TV! While it may seem daunting to some, the entire experience has been smooth and we really don’t miss our cable TV provider. Why? because of a little box called Roku. Roku manufactures a variety of digital media receivers that allow customers to access internet streamed video or audio services through televisions. This includes subscription-based services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as services that are available through the receiver free of charge, like TED TV, Ustream and Vimeo.
Product: Roku (www.roku.com)
Pros: Quick Setup, Easily stream media to your TV, Customized TV viewing experience, Dramatic reduction in monthly expense, Less Toy commercials for your kids
Cons: Local news coverage is only available in specific areas, Limited (but available) sports coverage
Cost: one time fee of $49.99 – $99.99 (Depending on the model you purchase). Your only monthly charges will be from streaming memberships like Netflix, or individual content purchases from Amazon.
Tips for Roku Success with your Family
1. Search through your Roku or Roku.com and download channel apps that are valuable to your family. Some of the FREE apps that we like include TED TV, Nowhere TV, Vevo, PBS Kids and Vimeo.
2. Get a membership to Netflix or HuluPlus. While Roku has a lot of free content options, paying for a Netflix membership will give you access to a larger spectrum of Nickelodeon and Disney content while also giving the adults access to movies and critically acclaimed TV shows like Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey.
4. Add FREE “private” channels to your Roku. These channels can not be downloaded straight from the Roku channel browser, but with a few simple steps you can add a larger set of viewing options to your library. Here are steps for adding a private channel and an ever growing list of channels available.
5. Get a digital TV antenna. You will be able to receive HD quality basic network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc).
6. If your antenna does not get a good signal. Sign up for Aereo or USTVNow to get live TV as needed. These services give you the opportunity to watch live TV with a DVR for as low as $1 a day or $8 a month. No one wants to miss the SuperBowl.
7. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn a new approach to managing your TV viewing experience. TV has been “pushed” to you for years, now you will be “pulling” just the content you are interested in consuming.
What do I really think of Roku?
Overall, I am pretty happy with our decision to kick Cable TV to the curb. Streaming internet content has been a success and we are not looking back. We are saving some money, we are choosing educational, appropriate and fun content that works for our family, and our daughter can still dance with Yo Gabba Gabba.
Have you had a similar experience? What tools are you using to create a managed and customized TV experience for your family? Have you gotten rid of TV altogether?