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Tired of cable? Three smart alternatives

Can't find a cable provider in your area, or simply tired of paying for cable? Good news: There are other options out there.

By Sarita Harbour | Yahoo! Homes – Thu, Mar 28, 2013

Are you searching for a way to watch your favorite shows, without having to pay the high price for cable TV? Whether cable is too expensive, or just not available in your area, don't despair. Cable isn't the only game in town.

Here are three options that can give you access to those shows, movies, and sporting events you just can't live without.

Option 1: Satellite

If you live in a rural area where cable television services are limited, or you're simply tempted by the thought of unlimited channels from across the world - satellite television could be a great alternative to cable.

In fact, satellites cover nearly every part of the United States, providing consumers with access to a wide range of channels and reliable coverage.

Satellite television is also a great option for viewers who prefer the traditional scheduling of cable and local television, opposed to Internet streaming options, according to Dan Faltesek, a new media communications instructor at Oregon State University.

"Satellite is a good option if you are interested in access to regular channels and access to programming that is structured into a conventional programming flow," says Faltesek. This is a huge perk when compared to Internet streaming via services like Hulu, which often has a waiting period between the time it airs on TV, and when it's available for streaming.

So, how much does satellite cost? It ranges depending on the provider. For example, Dish Network's packages start at $24.99 per month, for a promotional period of one year. To make sure you receive the best rates, make sure to do your research and shop providers.

Option 2: Internet Streaming

As we mentioned earlier, Internet streaming is another viable alternative to cable.

"Internet streaming is starting to take over and many devices are out there to help you acquire a great deal of content," says Josh Davis, resident tech expert at Glenview, Illinois' Abt Electronics, one of the largest independent, single-store appliance and electronics retailers in the country.

These "many devices" that allow you to stream content include your game console, computer, laptop, or handheld device.

And consumers are certainly taking advantage of this access. In fact, according to a 2011 study titled "The new age of television" by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, over half of the respondents tried watching television online using services such as NetFlix, AppleTV, or a network website.

The appeal with these streaming subscriptions is the low price. For example, you can stream TV shows and movies on Netflix and Hulu for $7.99 month each. Pretty great deal, right?

However there are some potential issues to consider with this option.

"If you are using the Internet only, a major concern is access to current programming," says Faltesek. "A number of services offer access to a variety of content, but these are not always complete libraries of material."

Another thing to keep in mind with online streaming is that your viewing experience will only be as good as your Internet connection.

"Before I even mention some ideas for people to try and make do without a cable service, there is a large warning label: You need great Internet in your house," Davis says. "Your Wi-Fi signal needs to be solid and your provider needs to be supplying a good bandwidth. That way, many devices can coexist on your network not weakening the network."

Option 3: Local TV via Antenna

Remember the rabbit-ears antenna on your grandparents' television? Well, believe it or not, these antennas are another option to cable television - but only if you live in an area where you can get over-the-air signals. You'll also have to be okay with just local television.

"Local television can be good, although this depends on your antenna, location, and being in a place where there is local television to begin with," says Faltesek.

Davis offers a similar view. "If you're not a big TV watcher, then pull the plug on cable or satellite, buy and install a great rooftop antenna and call it a day," he says.

However, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) website notes that in order to receive digital TV signals from all stations, your antenna needs to receive both VHF channels (channels 2-13) and UHF channels (channels 14-51).

"The reception capabilities of TV antennas also vary considerably, so be sure to talk to retail consultants and look at information on the packaging and/or the Internet to make sure that any new antenna you may choose provides good reception of both VHF and UHF channels," adds the FCC.

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