All the Amazing Extras That Come With Your Cable TV Subscription
Cutting the cord is fashionable now , but if you stick with the cable, you can make full use of it. This subscription also includes a ton of apps, web services, and other benefits that you might not have known about. Here are some of the best and how to access them.
Maybe you are using cable for live sports, or because there is no radio near you, or maybe you just like cable TV. If this sounds familiar, then the subscription might be worth it. Here are some additional services your cable company probably offers that are worth checking out:
Huge video on demand library
Video on Demand (or VOD) is more than just pay-per-view. In fact, there is a huge selection of programs available on your cable box or DVR right now. Not too long ago, VOD was just a few episodes of popular shows or budget movies that you could probably still watch on TV. These days, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and other companies offer many TV shows and movies organized by channel or network. Best of all, most of them are free. There are still premium movies and TV shows you can pay to watch (or download to your DVR), but you’d be surprised how many you can watch for free anytime you’re in the mood.
By and large, they’re easy to watch, and many cable TV providers post episodes of popular programs on their VOD channels a few hours after the show goes on the air, so if you don’t have a DVR, you can watch your favorite show whenever you want. If you really want to watch old reruns of long-established programs, or you missed yesterday ‘s Flash or Blacklist , video on demand will probably find what you are looking for. If you didn’t find what you’re looking for on Netflix, tune into your VOD channel and see if there’s something you want to watch.
TV Anywhere features let you watch anywhere and on other devices
Video-on-demand is great, but it’s not limited to your cable box. Your cable TV subscription likely includes some form of “TV Anywhere” that lets you take your favorite shows on the go, watch them in someone else’s house, or use Chromecast or Roku to watch premium channels. There are two main components:
- Stream to your smartphone , tablet, or computer : Your cable TV provider probably has a free mobile app (we looked at a list of them in this post ) that allows you to stream anything from their streaming library on demand to your smartphone, or tablet. All you have to do is log into your customer account (with Comcast, you can even create delegated accounts for other people in your family), choose the show you want to watch, and stream to your heart’s content. Some providers may limit what you can stream online compared to what you can stream through your cable box, but there is still something to watch from all of your favorite networks anyway.
- Add and authorize special channels or apps on your Roku, Chromecast or other set-top boxes : Having a cable does not mean that set-top boxes like Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku or any of our favorite set-top boxes are useless. Popular channels like ESPN, HBO, SyFy and others have their own apps for most of them, and as long as you log in with the same customer account, you can choose from recently aired episodes of your favorite shows, new movies or older programs can be streamed and enjoyed. This is ideal if the movie or show you want to watch isn’t available for video on demand, you’re traveling with a Chromecast, or you just have a TV in a room that doesn’t have a cable jack. This excellent post on How-To Geek explores TV Anywhere apps and services for most of the major cable TV providers.
Even together, these perks may not be enough to make you really want to subscribe to cable TV, but if you already have a cable subscription and don’t use it, you are definitely missing out on it.
Stream music to TV, the web, and on the go
If you’re a music lover, your cable TV provider probably offers free music streaming at home, on your phone, and even concerts and live shows, music videos and interviews that you can watch anytime you want. It’s not Pandora, but you probably have music channels with your cable package. The playlists are diverse enough that you don’t hear the same track twice (although you can if you come back and listen regularly every few days) and the genres are specific enough that you can choose between different tastes and subgenres if you want to be picky in what kind of electronics you prefer to listen to, do you have an opinion on different types of jazz or blues.
These channels are also commonly available via video on demand, which means you can call up certain music videos, concerts and live performances, interviews, and more anytime you want to watch them. Different cable providers call their music channels differently, but Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox all use Music Choice , which also offers streaming on its website and mobile streaming apps without ads on the go .
Free Wi-Fi, almost everywhere
Almost every major cable TV provider wants to turn their customers’ home routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots that any other customer can log in to and use. This means that if you are a Comcast customer and are struggling to find Internet access, and someone nearby is a Comcast subscriber with one of their combo Wi-Fi / router devices released by the company, you can find “XFinity Wi- Fi ”to your phone or laptop, sign in to your Comcast account and browse the web. Comcast isn’t the only cable TV provider doing this, however. Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision and others are rolling out similar services .
The program is more than controversial , mainly because cable companies are so eager to create this new “convenience” for their customers that they are not entirely sure if it will affect people who inadvertently share their connections for it. In any case, if you are using sharing, you can, with a little effort, disable this feature if you want . However, if you are away from home and can use this Wi-Fi, this can be a good advantage, especially considering that it is free with your subscription and easy sign-in. Just make sure you treat it the same way you treat any public Wi-Fi network .
Some of these features are advertised, but you just need to know where to look. Others are deliberately hushed up because cable companies prefer to offer them as perks but don’t really want you to take full advantage of them. Either way, you can also get your money back if you’re going to keep saving up for the hungry jaws of your cable company, and these features will help you squeeze value out of every penny.