Students cutting cable in favor of Netflix, Hulu

Matt North

Senior Paolo Alisasis has lived off campus for two years and has never paid a cable bill. Instead, he has a subscription to Hulu Plus, which he uses to watch his favorite TV shows whenever he wants.

“I never have time to watch my shows when they air on TV,” Alisasis said. “Hulu Plus lets me choose what I want to watch, when I want to watch it, and I save so much money in the long run.”

Both Hulu Plus and Netflix cost users $7.99 per month. That averages out to about $100 a year for each service or $200 for both.

Time Warner Cable or Direct TV charges $29.99 a month for their most basic digital services and students can save anywhere from $150 to $250 a year by dropping cable in favor of video streaming.

Eric Pahls, sophomore nursing major, is moving into a house off-campus next year with five friends, and he says they all easily agreed to save money by not subscribing to cable.

“It’s way more affordable to just share our Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts instead of splitting a cable bill,” Pahls said. “All of us have a computer, game system or streaming player so we can watch things on our own or together in the living room.”

Netflix and Hulu Plus give users the ability to stream a combined 120,000 shows and movies to their television through a PS3, Wii or an Xbox 360 with an Xbox Live subscription. The companies also have apps developed allowing users to access videos on streaming players like the Roku and Apple TV. The apps are also available on popular Internet-ready TVs and Blu-Ray players.

Television viewing options

Time Warner

  • Digital Standard (includes 70 channels) $29.99 a month
  • Digital (Over 200 channels) $39.99 a month
  • Digital HD/DVR $49.99 a month

    *Premium packages including run an additional $5.95-$29.95 a month

    Pros: Up-to-date and live content, paid On-Demand for the newest shows and movies, free on-the-go and on-demand

    Cons: Price


  • $7.99 a month for around 20,000 titles to stream and an additional 70,000 titles to rent
  • Past content from popular networks like A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery, FX, Spike, Starz! as well as thousands of movies from all the major film studios
  • Pros: Lots of choices in content, instant streaming at a flat rate, fast DVD delivery service

    Cons: Lacks current titles, no live sports events

    Hulu Plus

  • $7.99 a month for around 2,000 TV episodes and movies to stream including currently running shows
  • Up-to-date content including current seasons of popular shows from ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, CW, Fox, FX, NBC and more
  • Pros: Access to the most currently running shows within 24 hours of the original air date

    Cons: No live sports events, slow internet connection makes streaming a huge pain

The content is also available on the go, thanks to apps for both iOS and Android. The content is also available to stream directly from any computer with an Internet connection.

Alisasis said this feature was the most appealing to him when he made the decision to switch from cable to the streaming services.

“I love being able to watch an episode of my favorite shows while I’m on break at work,” Alisasis said.

While Netflix and Hulu Plus do provide a lot of content, students like sophomore Jessica Balcerzak still have trouble breaking away from basic cable because some of their favorite shows are not available from either company.

“Netflix and Hulu are nice, but they don’t necessarily have everything I want to watch,” Balcerzak said. “With cable, I can always count on my favorite show being on at a specific time.”

To compete with Hulu Plus and Netflix, Time Warner has recently introduced two new services to allow users to get their TV whenever they want it.

The first is Look Back, a service that allows you to watch any primetime shows from a select set of networks for up to 72 hours after it originally airs. In the Kent area, the feature is limited to 33 channels, but includes major networks like A&E, Disney, Showtime and USA.

The second service, TWC TV, is an app for Android and iOS that allows users to watch shows on their devices or on It also allows users to look up TV listings, control their TVs and manage their DVR on the go.

Travis Reynolds, Time Warner’s communications manager for northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, said these features are meant to give customers more options with their cable service.

“We are continually working to come up with new services to give customers a better product,” Reynolds said.

Sports are another major factor that make students reluctant to drop their cable providers completely.

Reynolds said sports are a “glaring area” for non-cable subscribers, as there are no real alternatives unless you go catch the game at a bar or a friend’s house.

Alisasis said that issue never really bothered him because he preferred to go somewhere else to watch games.

“Sports are something I like to watch with my friends at a bar with a couple of drinks,” Alisasis said. “It’s not a big deal to me if I can’t watch them in my home.”

Recently, ESPN and CBS have made it possible to stream events live on their computers for free.

ESPN has an app for Android, iOS and Xbox 360 allowing users to watch live and past sporting events on the go, provided they have a Time Warner subscription.

CBS also introduced a free iPad app that allowed fans to watch all of the March Madness men’s basketball games.

Either way, Alisasis said he doesn’t plan on paying for cable anytime in the near future.

“Maybe when I’m out of school and I have more time to sit down and watch a show with my family or some friends after work” Alisasis said. “It just doesn’t fit my schedule or budget as a college student right now.”

Contact Matt North at [email protected].