Countless stories have been written about cutting the cord, ditching the cable company and watching all your video through online streaming. But if you’re not quite ready to make the snip, you can at least watch your shows in more places than ever before.
Take for example, the Euro Cup 2012…’cause I need my international football, y’all.
I have a cable TV subscription, but I was out of town in a place with Internet – but no cable TV. But, thanks to the Watch ESPN app, I could watch matches live on the iPad. The app is also available for Android devices and the ESPN3 online channel often streams live sports video on the ESPN Web site if you’re on a regular laptop or desktop computer.
All I needed was a free user name and password from my cable company. In most cases, you can sign up for free to get credentials on your provider’s Web site, but you may need to dig up a recent cable bill with your account number on it to sign up.
Of you do keep the cable account and have premium channels on it, you have other entertainment options as well:
The one that’s been in the news lately: HBO Go. It works on Android phones, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Roku box and the Amazon Kindle Fire. The service is free with an HBO subscription – you can watch past episodes of Game of Thrones, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and other HBO fare.
If you get the Showtime channel, there’s also Showtime Anytime. You get unlimited access to Showtime original series like Homeland and Dexter, movies and other specials for iPad, iPhone and the computer. You also need a Showtime subscription and a participating provider, like AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS. (And hey, for the Dexter fan in your life, the gift opportunities await.)
That same cable company name and password can also be used for the DVR apps many providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable now have for scheduling recordings or watching live TV. You can also program the DVR through a mobile Web site. (TiVo has its own apps and mobile site, too.)
If you still want to ditch cable, you won’t be without stuff to watch, and this is not even counting YouTube. For example, for $8 a month, you can subscribe to either Netflix or Hulu Plus, which both have apps available for Android, Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Phone, Wii, PS3, Xbox, Roku and the computer.
If you’re a fan of public television, there’s the PBS app for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch – it’s free and you can catch up old recent episodes of Masterpiece, NOVA, Austin City Limits and more.
Many broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) have their own apps, especially for their nightly news shows. NBC Nightly News is available for Android and iOS if you need your Brian Williams fix.
And let’s not forget the Olympics. NBC, which is broadcasting the London 2012 games next month, will have some apps. These apps themselves aren’t quite ready just yet, but you can get a preview of what to expect here.
Got some time and need some brain food? Try the TED Talks app for iOS and Android. TED Talks are 18-minute “great idea” lectures from scientists, writers, entertainers, business folks and more. There are hundreds of them online on a wide variety of topics. (I must admit, Joshua Klein’s speech on the intelligence of crows and Steven Johnson’s thoughts on where good ideas come from are two of my all-time favorite TED Talks.)
And one of these days, maybe we’ll even get the BBC iPlayer here in the US — legally. Sigh.