Where can I find cable TV?
August 5, 2011 4:50 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in alternatives to traditional cable/satellite television. We only have one really bad cable provider in the area that I do not want to get cable from. Satellite TV is not what I want either for a variety of reasons. Netflix, iTunes and Amazon TV don't offer the shows I am interested in like Discovery Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, news channels, etc. Is there a way to stream this kind of programming from the internet? I am willing to pay for the service but I cannot find anywhere legitimate to get something like this from. Thanks
posted by qexcp to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sat TV: what variety of reasons?
posted by artdrectr at 4:53 PM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: I don't want the dish installed, it is expensive without the contract and the early termination fees are expensive
posted by qexcp at 4:58 PM on August 5, 2011

You can't find it because it doesn't exist. Using an antenna to pull in the local channels in high def, plus making due with what is available on Amazon. iTunes, Hulu, and the content provider web sites is the best you can do without installing your own satellite farm, which one of my friends has done, entirely with used equipment from Craig's List. He says he can get 70% or so of what is available on cable, all for free.
posted by COD at 5:08 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, COD is right.

The networks you want to watch are "cable networks" -- so called because they (generally) only make their content available to cable companies (technically, multichannel video programming distributors or MVPDs, which nowadays includes cable companies, the satellite companies, and fiber. I'm guessing you don't have access to FIOS or U-Verse, either?). The cable networks rely on MVPDs for distribution because, unlike the broadcast networks, they don't have their own distribution facilities. They also haven't developed an online distribution model, largely because they can't make any money that way. The cable networks charge MVPDs a per-subscriber fee for their content, something they can't really do for online content, at least not in sufficient volume to make it worth their while.

There are other ways to access cable network content with an MVPD subscription (as COD mentions, it is technically possible to pull the signal using your own satellite farm) but those ways are generally not legal and if the cable networks find out you're stealing their signal, they could certainly go after you for it.
posted by devinemissk at 5:55 PM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, there's no FIOS or UVerse out here either. Thanks
posted by qexcp at 6:36 PM on August 5, 2011

If I were in your shoes, I'd find a friend or a relative that lived somewhere where they had cable you wanted and a good internet connection. I would then buy myself a Mac Mini and an El Gato EyeTV HD and hook it up at their house. I would then pay to upgrade their internet connection or help pay them for their cable bill. I don't know how well it would work for live TV, but for using a TV like a DVR I think it would be fine. Bonus points for finding a friend that lives in a city where you can watch your favorite sports teams when they aren't broadcast nationally or in your area.
posted by pwb503 at 7:39 PM on August 5, 2011

I'd find a friend or a relative that lived somewhere where they had cable you wanted and a good internet connection. I would then buy myself a Mac Mini and an El Gato EyeTV HD and hook it up at their house.

You can accomplish the same thing with SlingBox. Not sure what their terms of service would say about that use, but I do know people who use relatives' SlingBoxes in other cities to watch their hometown sports.
posted by devinemissk at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2011

I'm a strong believer in over-the-air HD. Free, high-quality, all the networks plus a handful of fun oddities. And then add Netflix. Seriously, if that's not enough, you are spending too much of your life watching bad TV shows.

But if you must have that cable-only crap, well ...

The SlingBox solution does work! I actually use that a couple times a year (Tour de France on Versus, for example). However, as Sling has recently become noticeably more evil(tm), you should also check out Vulkano.
posted by intermod at 8:13 PM on August 5, 2011

I do know people who use relatives' SlingBoxes in other cities.

I do this. If you have someone you are close to who is a fairly irregular TV watcher, you may be able to share a connection like this [you both have to be watching the same thing at the same time]. This is especially good if you watch during different hours and you can set their DVR to record, for example, every episode of the Daily Show. There are complicated hacks you can do with something like MythTV but you still need some sort of content input, but if you're already thinking about the shared connection with someone else, this might give you a box you could access form your place to access content at someone else's house.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2011

Upon further review, I think I'd agree with the Slingbox contingent. According to their FAQ, someone at home can be watching something, while you (remotely) are watching something else, as long as what they are watching (at home) is on an un-encrypted digital channel (usually channels 1-100 or so.) Alternatively, you could pay for them to get a second cable box just for you and then you wouldn't have this problem at all.
posted by pwb503 at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2011

As far as the Slingbox suggestion, you'd still be using the technology as intended, right? I'm not really familiar with it but think it's a interesting idea, and if it's not a hack I could just look into the details at their site. (If it is a hack, I'll add it to my AskMeFi list.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:52 AM on August 6, 2011

Response by poster: @Room 641-A: Yes, that is how a slingbox works, you use it to view your TV from somewhere else
posted by qexcp at 4:12 PM on August 6, 2011

Excellent, thanks.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:36 PM on August 6, 2011

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