Full stream ahead
Cutting the cord has never been easier
Traditional cable—paying for two hundred channels to watch the half-dozen you like—is finally succumbing to the ala carte buffet of online choices for which beleaguered subscribers have been clamoring for years. Pay for what you want to see, when you want to see it.
Streaming services Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon inspired institutions like HBO to lead the charge of wresting paid prestige channels away from the tiered hegemony of overpriced television packages. Boutique apps such as Film Struck (which houses the Criterion Collection) among other curated services, are popping up like mushrooms. Not to mention the ten thousand ways there are to steal shit—from password coasters to torrents. (I judge you not.) Trouble is, most of these come with a price tag.
Taken to its natural conclusion, subscribing to a bunch of apps is about as expensive—on top of your internet connection—as any antiquated cable package. And it’s getting worse. Disney just announced it is yanking its content from Netflix to start its own service. ESPN, in the same announcement, is following suit. CBS, in a sort of a dick move, decided to make its new “Star Trek” series an exclusive hostage, forcing fans to pay for its All Access platform. The Balkanization of entertainment is the Faustian tradeoff for the illusion of more choices.
Fortunately, most of what you really want to see is likely free. And mostly legal.
Live, over-the-air television, a shortcoming of any streaming cable wannabe from Sling to Playstation Vue, largely due to regional programming (particularly sports), only requires a good antenna.
And if you’re willing to trade out CNN for NewsSy and Comedy Central for Funny or Die then the new streaming app Pluto TV (available online and across multiple devices) is a viable alternative to the bloat of that moribund cable subscription.
The app, basically a conglomeration of free apps, gives a slick program guide similar to that of your cable box. News, sports, weather, and music along with a surprising selection of on-demand films reside amongst a plethora of channels like Nerdist, IGN, Shout! TV and THC (yes, a channel for stoners) that offer everything from cooking shows and vintage television to anime and MST3K. You won’t be bored.
Pluto TV marks a paradigm shift: quality programming doesn’t have to have a name brand to be worthwhile. So far they’re making a good argument. Snip-snip.