As renters, we always had cable and internet included in our rental costs. Now as condo owners, we have to pay for those services ourselves. And let me tell you, it’s expensive! I had no idea how much internet and cable costs were until April last year, and I wrote a post about that experience. The condo we live in is set up with fibre optics, which is faster, but it ties us to either Rogers or Bell as other ISPs can’t run on these fibre optics*. Our decision was to go without cable television and just pay for internet. When people find out we don’t have cable their response is “What do you watch??…” or “Do you have a TV?”. The answers are “Lots of stuff!” and “um.. yes (Duh…)” Just kidding on that last part. I used to think the same thing when I found out people didn’t have cable. So if you’re curious what we do at Casa Watson, here it is!
We’ve been subscribers to Netflix.ca (for about $8/month) since 2009… long before we knew anyone else using it and back when it was all grainy off-brand movies from the 90’s. It has come a LONG way since then. There are lots of lists online on what to watch, like this one by the Huffington Post. My husband and I are currently watching Orange Is The New Black season 3, but he’s watching a bunch of other shows, like House of Cards, and House of Lies. Also, the movie selections are great, as is Netflix Kids, but Benjamin is a bit too young for section.
YouTube has blown up in the last few years. I remember going on it and posting a few videos back in 2007 when there was a 3-minute limit. Now people have very successful careers being professional YouTubers! I watch a variety of channels from daily vloggers, to makeup gurus, to news-y reporters, to comic videos. If there’s something you want to learn, someone has made a video about it on YouTube. It is very easy to get caught up in a YouTube black hole. I suggest disabling the “auto-play” feature so that you have more control. Here are a few of my current favourite channels:
- WhatsUpMoms: Comedic shorts, DIYs, and recipes
- BuzzFeedVideo: Fun, inspiring, interesting videos. There’s also BuzzFeedYellow, BuzzfeedViolet, and other colours, but I’m not sure what the difference is.
- The Slow Mo Guys: They film cool stuff in super slow motion and it’s pretty wicked.
- Philip DeFranco, LastWeekTonight: news and pop culture topics as discussed by Philip DeFranco and John Oliver. Hilarious and informative.
- Jamie Oliver, The Domestic Geek : Food channels. Lots of dinner inspiration. Yum.
- Desi Perkins /Jaclyn Hill / Lauren Curtis: Makeup gurus. These girls are beautiful and can teach you a thing or two about makeup
A lot of people don’t know this, but tv stations have a LOT of shows available to stream (for free) on their websites. So in terms of Canadian stations, I’m talking about Global TV, CityTV, CTV, MTV Canada, HGTV, etc. Just look around and you’ll see what I mean. I use these stations to watch most of my cable shows that I’m “missing” by not having a traditional cable subscription. The only caveat is that you can’t watch them live. Sometimes they’re available the same day, but mostly I watch these shows the following day. Also, they’re not available online forever. Some only stay available for one week, some for a few weeks. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Using this method I watch shows like:
- The Social, on CTV (I watch this every day during Benjamin’s afternoon nap, some time between 3-5, and it airs live at 1pm, so it gets to their site FAST)
- The Amazing Race Canada, on CTV
- The Bachelorette, on CityTV
- When they’re back on in the fall, I’ll use this method to watch Big Bang Theory, Black-ish, Modern Family, New Girl, etc.
Kevin owns a few hundred movies on DVD. I have a few TV series on DVD. We watch them sparingly.
What We’re Missing..
Kevin loves Game of Thrones and sports. He’ll get GoT episode downloads from others and he watches sports at our parents houses when he’s there, but we don’t make special trips for it.
My biggest tip to streaming online is to download an ad blocker. It has completely changed my streaming experience! I use AdBlock Plus and it’s available on Chrome and Firefox. I cannot recommend this enough as it removes all the ads at the beginning of YouTube Videos and all the commercials from the network TV sites. Even if you’re not streaming, this removes ads from other websites. I love it.
Additionally, I have a computer tower set up to our TV. Basically our TV is acting as a giant computer monitor, so when I turn on the computer the TV opens up to my desktop. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse so I sit on my couch to do everything computer related. It’s awesome. Whenever anyone comes over they think it’s a SmartTV, but it’s just a basic flat screen.
I hope this helps you expand your knowledge of tv/video watching options outside of traditional cable! What’s available in Canada versus the U.S. varies greatly (it seems like our options are more limited) so if you’re a Canuck and have another option I’ve missed here, please feel free to share it!
*After I finished writing this post, I read a news article that says the CRTC is forcing the country’s big ISPs to allow competitors access to their fibre optic lines.