I watch a lot of television. Between live programming and video rentals, I log over 500 hours a year in front of the television. Given that baseline, I find it easy to justify Comcast digital cable, Redbox, Tivo and Netflix (DVD and streaming). The cost works out to $1,000/year or about $2/hour.
The question in my mind is whether I am making the best purchase decisions. $1,000/year translates to buying over 50 DVD’s/year, or renting 500 television episodes from Amazon prime, or 1,000 offerings from Redbox. As far as cable television goes, I watch mostly major network offerings ABC, NBC and CBS which I could get from an antenna. I also enjoy FX, AMC, Comedy Central, OLN, Travel Channel and Universal Sports.
I am at the point where I am ready to stop the Comcast and Tivo and purchase a Roku 2 player ($60) and sign up for Amazon Instant Video. I would have access to most of my viewing through free television anyway. We have two digital to analog converters at home and our newer televisions decode signals anyway. The Roku player is cheap and I respect the idea of pay-as-you-go. I have found that subscription services generate complacency and an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Even worse is the "I have to get my money's worth" mentality which drives watching more television.
I would definitely keep the Netflix streaming service, but will probably rethink the one DVD/month. If after a 6 month trial, I find myself spending $100/month at Amazon Instant Play, I will know the experiment failed. If however, I find myself spending $10/week to watch the shows I want to watch, buying a couple of DVD’s at the store for the kids and enjoying free trials of Desiflix and other channels offered by Roku, I will be enjoying a fat $300 savings annually.
In a worst case scenario, I will find myself spending over $100/month for video entertainment and will have to start up Comcast again. This is a pain as it requires returning/picking up all of the boxes and dealing with Comcast customer service. However the potential savings may be worth it.