Several years ago I cancelled my cable TV subscription and in the process saved myself several hundreds of dollars a year. I got myself a TV antenna and used it to get about ten over-the-air HD channels. For the TV shows that don’t come over-the-air, I’ve used torrents to just download them. The only real weakness going without cable is live sports. For the first couple of years, there was very little to solve this. Within the last year though, things have gotten better. There are now high-quality live streams of hockey games that require no subscriptions nor fees. These streams of course are illegal for the streamer though. Sometimes streams for the particular game you’re looking for are not available.
Tonight, I discovered a more reliable way to watch sports. My parents still have a cable TV subscription as my father likes watching live soccer and both my parents enjoy watching Chinese language specialty channels. For their level of technical savvy, having cable still makes sense. Their cable provider recently launched a new app that allows subscribers to watch live TV and shows on demand on their mobile devices. Though my mother has a smartphone, my mother has no use for this app. As such, I decided to download the app myself and logged in using their credentials. I discovered the app itself is pretty slick. The live TV channel line-up is dependent on your cable package. Since my parents have a very basic package, the app’s line-up wasn’t very extensive. Several of the channels overlapped what I already get from over-the-air. Out of the 19 available channels, 14 I don’t get through the antenna.
The key channels for me are the four sports channels I get access to: Sportsnet 1, Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1, and TSN 2. Having those ensures whatever hockey I want to watch, mainly Canucks games, is available to me in high-definition. For sports highlights, I prefer TSN so it’s nice to have access to Sportscentre again.
The app also lets you watch TV shows on demand. The list of available shows is again dependent on the subscribed cable package. Since my parents have a basic one, the shows basically come from the main broadcast networks. So the app doesn’t let me have access to the some of the more popular shows on HBO and AMC. For some of the shows that are available, there are even restrictions on that. Depending on the agreement the cable provider signed with the content creator, you might be only able to stream on demand the last three episodes from a show. This might be ok if you’ve been following a show from the get-go but not great if you were looking to watch from the beginning. In this sense, torrents are still offer more flexibility.
This app should allow me to watch sports in a more accessible manner. I wonder if I should chip in a few dollars for my parents’ cable bill now!