Have you hung up on your landline? Cut the cable on your television?
If you have, you’ve joined an increasing number of Canadians who are opting for wireless phones only over wired lines and Internet-enabled entertainment services like Netflix over a cable connection for their television.
A study by the Convergence Consulting Group shows that by the end of 2014, more than one-quarter – 26.3 per cent of Canadian households won’t have landlines, up from 22.5 per cent last year. As for the so-called ‘cord-cutters,” households that get everything from sports, to TV shows and movies through online services rather than traditional cable services, their numbers are expected to climb to 665,000 or 5.7 per cent, up from 3.9 per cent in the period from 2011 to 2013.
It seems to spell bad news for Canada’s TV service providers. The total number of subscribers is expected to drop by 32,000 in Canada this year. However, Telus is one company bucking that trend with its Optik TV service that saw 38,000 new customers sign up in the last quarter of 2013, for a total of 815,000 subscribers, an increase of 20 per cent over the year earlier. Industry-wide, according to the Convergence Group 2013 saw only a net new add of 2,000 subscribers, a drop from 37,000 in 2012.
I’m probably like many Canadians who are using a mix of services. I’ve kept Optik TV, even though I have Apple TV, so if I want to watch a movie or catch up on an entire season of TV shows, I tune into Netflix. And for holidays when I don’t have cable service, I bought a small, smart TV that connects to the Internet and delivers lots of online entertainment with no cable bill. It’s the hybrid approach to home entertainment and I suspect there are a number of people like me who would count among the TV subscriber numbers even though much of our entertainment comes via online services.
If you’re not sure,whether or not you want to make a complete switch to online entertainment, the good news is there is an increasing number of options to let you try them out – at prices that won’t break the bank.
If your TV doesn’t have Internet services, here are five options to check out some online entertainment services:
1. Roku Streaming Stick $60
With this little gadget that plugs into your TV, you can use your smartphone or tablet to send content like Netflix movies or YouTube videos onto your TV or choose from more than 700 channels that can be streamed straight to your TV.
2. Google Chromecast, $39
Another tiny gadget that plugs into your TV and can be used instead of a set top box, the Chromecast lets you send what you’re watching on your tablet or smartphone to your TV.
3. Set top boxes
Apple once owned this market with its Apple TV, but now there are many choices when it comes to hooking up a set top box that will transform your old TV in a smart TV. Roku, maker of the streaming stick, has set top boxes and Amazon recently announced its new Fire TV, a $99 set top box although no word yet on when it will reach Canada. And in a leak to The Verge, we’ve heard about Google’s plans for a new Android TV.
4. Give up on your old TV and buy a new smart TV. When they first came on the market, Internet-connected TVs were in the thousands of dollars, Now they’re mainstream and you can pick up a smart TV that will enable to watch Netflix and other online services for less than $300.
5. Tablo, $220 US
And if you really want to save money, opt for an antenna to pick up over-the-air television signals if you live in an area where they’re accessible. Add a Tablo, that’s a DVR/app connector that lets you record TV shows, games and other content that comes to your TV via antenna through the locally available HDTV broadcast signals and lets you access that content not only on your TV but remotely on your tablet. You can record and watch TV, even when you’re away from home. Nuvyyo, the Ottawa company that created Tablo, started with an Indiegogo campaign and with early backers already using the device, it has moved on to the general public, selling online through the company’s website or through newegg.ca or neweggcom.