Tips on Setting Up Internet-only Entertainment

Here at Stephouse, a lot of our customers love being able to have an Internet connection that isn’t tied to a TV service, but there are many that are concerned that if they follow this path they may lose entertainment options. We frequently hear from people that they are reluctant to drop their cable TV package, because they still want access to their favorite television shows or movies.

Subscribing to a high-speed Internet service without any other bundles is a fantastic way to save money, but what will you lose? Very little.

Fortunately, there have been several new solutions in the last few years that can help you get all of your media without the traditional costs and hassles. More and more people are becoming “cord cutters,” and there are plenty of resources available, with more on the way.

Here are a few of the ways you can cut the cord on cable TV, and still access more media than you will know what to do with.

Free, Over The Air TV Channels

Old style broadcast illustration

A lot of people don’t realize that there are several channels available over the air, you just need a bit of additional equipment. While most may be familiar with the old-school “rabbit ear” antennas that TV watchers used to attach to their sets in order to receive analog channels, those days are gone thanks to a decision from the Federal Communications Commission. That doesn’t mean you still can’t access content over the air though.

On June 13, 2009, the FCC enacted the Digital Television Transition, which required all broadcast television to switch from analog to digital. That signaled the end of the age of rabbit ear antenna, but not over the air broadcast TV. To access over the air TV, you simply need a new, digital antenna. Pair one of these with an existing computer monitor or display, and have broadcast television back into your home or office.

There are several to choose from, with manufacturers like Hauppage, Mediasonic, and TaoTronics all offering several models that can receive over the air stations, even in HD. Check online retailers like Amazon or your local electronics store of choice, and you should have no problem finding one that is inexpensive and easy to set up.

For a closer look at what channels you can receive, the FCC has a guide outlining station signal strengths by zip code.

Streaming Services

You are probably familiar with one of the many streaming services these days like Netflix, Hulu, or Crackle to name a few. It’s almost difficult not to be at least somewhat familiar with the services, even if you don’t utilize any of them. There are plenty of options, and depending on what TV shows or movies you’d like to watch you’ll want to do some research on what each service offers.

Some like Netflix offer original content along with entire runs of series, while others like Hulu show older content plus content as it airs (or shortly after). There are others as well, including the recently introduced HBO Now, which offers the premium channel and all its content on demand without needing to also have a cable TV subscription. You can also find other media as well, like YouTube and ESPN, not to mention niche services like the anime-only Crunchy Roll. The list goes on and on, and it is only going to grow.

These streaming services tend to feature a monthly subscription fee, so look into each option and see what works for you. Regardless, you’ll still be saving a ton of money compared to most cable TV packages, and you have the benefit of watching content on-demand, whenever you want.

Some Internet providers even have deals with streaming services to make the experience even better.

Stephouse Networks recently peered with Netflix, meaning that our connection to Netflix is faster and more direct than some others. We are also peered with Google, making all content from it – including YouTube – faster than ever. We are constantly looking into new partnerships as well, so your high-speed Internet will only improve. 

Streaming Devices

More and more manufacturers are embracing cord cutters, and as such, they are offering devices that are specifically designed to stream online content (along with other functions). The list is long and growing every day.

If you are looking for a device that acts as a one-stop home media device, you may want to consider a gaming console. Microsoft and Sony have both loaded up their consoles with apps that can directly access streaming content, and they have the added benefit of playing games, music, Blu-Rays/DVDs, and can even act as a media server in some instances.

If you are looking for something a little simpler, Western Digital, Roku, and Google all have devices that simply plug in to your TV and grant you access to the media platforms. Some are additional boxes like the Rokku below, others are small dongles that plug right into your TV.

Internet-only entertainment

You may even choose to build their own devices, picking out the parts to make a home theater PC (HTPC). We wouldn’t necessarily recommended this for amateurs, but building an HTPC can be a fun project if you have the know-how and a little extra time and money.

Say goodbye to cable TV

While Stephouse Networks may not be a cable or satellite TV provider, there are still an abundance of tools that can help you construct a complete home entertainment system using our service as the backbone of your digital entertainment needs.

As high-speed internet access continues to expand, these digital-first entertainment service will continue to grow with them. Already we’ve seen content produced just for these services (exclusives like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil), so it’s easy to see a future where even more offerings are available.

This article was originally posted on March 28, 2014. It was then updated on June 1, 2015. 

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