During prime time, the majority of the Internet's bandwidth is used for streaming Netflix. The success of this and other Internet TV providers has many people questioning why they pay for cable each month, especially when they don't watch most of the channels. Why not just pay a monthly subscription fee to watch the programs you want from Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix or iTunes? And what about boxes like Apple TV, Boxee Box or a Roku XD?
For depth of content and ease of use, cable beats these boxes hands-down. The boxes require you to use your computer as a component of the television watching experience, limit your choices and require you to follow certain rules when watching. If you want to subscribe to your favorite show, you have to think about how those rules and limitations will affect your watching experience. Cable remains king when it comes to these competitors, but the match between cable and true Internet TV is more difficult to call.
One of the biggest downsides of many Internet TV services is the advertisements. Cable users are growing tired of fast-forwarding through the commercials on shows stored on their digital video recorders (DVRs), and many thought Internet TV would be an advertisement-free solution. Not so.
Advertisers are tapping into the online viewing market, and many providers, including Hulu Plus, even inundate their paying viewers with ads. Netflix is likely to follow because the studios that create its streaming movies and television shows have to make money, too.
Another downfall of Internet TV is that if you quit cable and want to watch a chick flick online, but your partner wants to watch football, a compromise is the only option. Most people don't have sufficient bandwidth to stream to more than one device at the same time, so good luck.
If you still want to abandon cable, choose the best Internet TV service for you by making a list of the TV series you most want to watch. Also consider how long you are willing to wait to watch the latest episodes. If hearing a spoiler about last night's episode of “Game of Thrones” at the water cooler will ruin your day, you may want to stick to cable.
Finally, consider how you get your news. Most people stick to the Internet for the latest developments but still flick on the television in the event of major news or local stories. If having that access is important to you, consider holding on to basic cable.