Save money by getting rid of your cable TV bill…really!

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 111, No. 12December, 2011

Cindy Green, LCSW

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.

How much is your cable bill? That’s what I thought. And now that we’re in full holiday swing, I bet you’ll be looking for ways to generate extra funds for holiday parties and gifts.

Have you ever considered getting rid of cable or satellite costs altogether? It might sound a little unusual, but going without cable doesn’t mean going without modern entertainment.

The Internet offers a massive assortment of T.V. and web-only series as well as movies and music videos for small fees that are a fraction of the cost of premium cable.

Cable and satellite packages that include premium channels like HBO and Showtime always cost more than Internet-only service. Although prices vary, some cable bills may be triple the amount of high-speed internet service in New York City.

A recent New York Times article states that many cable users are eliminating cable in favor of using the Internet to watch T.V. and movies. Why not join them? Here are just some of the Web sites where you can view this kind of entertainment. is an online video service that offers a selection of hit shows, clips, movies and more. For a low cost subscription service ($7.99 per month) you can have complete access on your computer, smart phone, tablet or other device. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your favorite show, go to Hulu to watch the ones you’ve missed. Even without the subscription cost, there is still a wide variety of shows and movies to watch on your computer. operates in much the same way. For only $7.99 a month, you can stream unlimited movies and T.V. episodes to your T.V. via an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii or any other compatible device. You can also watch instantly on your computer.

Additionally, Netflix lets you order DVD’s to be delivered by mail to your home. For $7.99 more per month, you can add unlimited DVD’s (1 DVD out-at-a-time plan). With DVD’s by mail, you’ll get an even broader selection of movies and T.V. episodes. You can exchange each DVD as often as you want with no due dates or late fees. You can add access to Blu-ray discs to your account at any time for an additional $2 a month.

iTunes comes pre-installed on Mac computers but for PC users it can be downloaded for free. This is the best source for current cable and premium cable shows if you can’t wait for them to come out on Netflix. Once you download iTunes, go to the Apple store to rent or purchase T.V. shows and movies. Episodes cost $0.99 to $2.99.

On, you will find home videos, music videos, television clips, instructional videos, mash-ups, and lots of cute animals. Although there are few full episodes of films and T.V. shows on YouTube, it certainly can be a source of low cost entertainment. is an entertainment option designed for original Web series instead of network and cable T.V. shows or popular films. Web series on release new episodes on a regular basis, have a particular audience or subject matter focus and share a common format from episode to episode. Among other shows, you’ll find sitcoms, news magazines, nature shows, dramas, science fiction, and tech reviews. With a wide range of topics, it’s definitely worth a look.

Once you figure out what to watch, you also have some options for where to watch.

You can see all the shows on your desktop, laptop, tablet and even some smart phones. Don’t feel you have to sit at a desk or be relegated to watching your shows on a teeny, tiny screen.

You can connect these devices to your television to watch comfortably in your home. Connect your computer to your T.V. with an RCA (yellow and red cable) and a video converter.

You can also install a wireless streaming device such as Roku and watch on your television. This is available at electronics stores for around $80 plus an installation fee.

For Apple users, Apple T.V. costs around $100 and once the device is connected, you can wirelessly watch content from your mobile devices.

If you want to give creative gifts, video conversion equipment might just be what you’re looking for.

For questions about watching T.V. online or other holiday budgeting issues, please contact us in the MAP office at (212) 397-4802 or e-mail us at Also, if you find yourself becoming addicted to some great new (or old) T.V. series, we are available to help you address those issues too.

This article was adapted from a presentation by Margaret Stevens, MSW of the Actors Fund.