TV Over the Internet – Can You Cut the Cable?

Netflix, Shomi, Hulu, YouTube, Channel B – all are streaming video services providing you with thousands of hours of entertainment. Services like these do it all for free or at a tenth the price of cable or satellite TV. Because of the low cost and the high availability, many people are choosing to drop their cable or satellite TV service. This is known as ‘cutting the cable’.


Services like Netflix, Shomi, and Channel B tend to run movies and TV shows that are a few years old, or even classics. That was the first criticism of them by people. But then they started producing Emmy-worthy shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Now, some people subscribe to these services just to see these shows.

Another criticism of streaming services is that they are limited by where you live. The shows available on Netflix vary from country to country. Sometimes Canadian shows, like Murdoch Mysteries, are only on the US Netflix. Some US shows are only on the Canadian Netflix. This is for licensing reasons. It can be cheaper to get the rights to broadcast a show in one country over another. It’s all about money.

There are ways around this blocking by location, or geo-blocking as it is known. Right now, using these services is a bit of a grey area. Streaming services aren’t currently doing much about them. They also exist in a legal grey area, but that could change at any moment. If you’re thinking about using these services, do so at your own risk.

The final criticism of streaming TV services is that they don’t have live news and sports. That’s not entirely true. Some of the major broadcasters, like CBC or CTV, do stream their news and some sports events live. To really enjoy these on a big screen, you’ll need either a Smart TV or a device like the Chromecast. Chromecast is a USB device you can plug into many new TVs. It allows you to stream whatever is on your computer or tablet to your TV wirelessly.

To replace all the content of your cable or satellite TV, it does take some work and some technical know-how. For many people, that convenience factor is enough to keep them on the cable. Fair enough. For others, the thought of saving a hundred dollars a month makes up for a little learning or work. What most people do is to cut back their cable service and add services like Netflix to the mix. It’s a best of both worlds situation. Maybe that’s the route for you. Happy computing!

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 36, September 9, 2015

Image Credit: CC

2 thoughts on “TV Over the Internet – Can You Cut the Cable?”

  1. Derek Smith says:

    I cut the cable years ago and never looked back. As you said, Netflix made this an easy choice, and my ability to download whatever else I wanted and have it added to my iTunes library for viewing on AppleTV made the choice even easier. Until recently, the biggest miss for me was the live sports, and Chromecast fixed that. I can now stream the game I want to see (thank you Reddit!!) and push it to my tv, and probably 80% of the time it is impossible to distinguish the streaming game from a game coming across on cable.

    The only downside is that my data usage is climbing. With 3 kids in the house either watching Netflix or gaming, and me downloading stuff, e are piling up the stats. My provider allows me to download overnight for free so that helps, but each month we approach the cap and sometimes go over. I am now looking at a need to increase my monthly allotment for data.

  2. Guy McDowell says:

    Hi Derek,

    Thank you for the comment. Download limits are a pain. Especially since in corporate speak ‘unlimited’ only means ‘as much as we think you should have and then we’ll put the screws to you.”

    Actual download speeds are also a point of contention. If I had the true 1.5 Mbps that my ISP advertised, I could watch Canadian college sports. But it’s more like 0.5 Mbps so it’s constantly buffering.

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