What are you watching? Best ways to watch your fav. shows for least $$$.

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I am not much of a TV watcher.  I’d like to say that’s because I’m so busy with all these great things that I just don’t have time – but that is only partly true.  Another huge factor is that I *dislike* the cost of paying for a lot of garbage and shows I’m not even slightly interested in, as well as all the commercials.

I’ve looked at several ways to get around this.  For one – I am NOT a dish network fan (or any of those type of products) for the literally hours of time you can spend channel surfing.  I want to know what I am going to watch when I start my laundry folding pile. 🙂

I’ve put together a few *cost effective* ways to watch just a few of my favorite shows as well as a list (recently recommended by readers and friends).  Personally I am VERY picky about the shows I watch – so if you are too, remember that these are suggestions from friends and readers.  If it’s a show I’ve watched, I’ll put in my 2 cents.  If you have a fave – I’d love for you to leave us a suggestion with a few reasons why YOU love it as well as the audience it would be appropriate for. You can try out a free trial to see what you really get. I suggest getting several free trials at once so you can compare side by side what you are looking for. If you have something you want to watch, look it up in several locations to see which one has it available.

Hulu Plus –  The COST is much less than other options and the selection is pretty thorough for TV shows!
Cost – $7.99/month unlimited online streaming
Includes – Literally thousands of popular (current!!!) TV shows, PBS shows, PBS kids, late night shows, TONS of movies including documentaries, family friendly shows and more.
Parental Controls – Stink. There is a LOT of garbage on Hulu Plus. They do not have options to block what type of content comes up. I would suggest going to “help” a the very bottom of the screen, clicking on Parental Controls and following directions to change your age to under 17 – which will cut off anything rated R or worse.
Finding Shows – Easy. Search by name, genre in movies or TV. You can create playlists or if you see something you want to watch later put it on your favorites list and come back to it later. *Love that feature!
CLICK HERE to start a 7 day trial (best way to see what you really get).

Netflix – There are a few things I really like about Netflix. I love that it offers suggestions – I’ve found a few of my favorite series that way BUT after the recent price hike – I cancelled my subscription. I find their online selection okay but not too fantastic. I will say, if you want to be able to watch ANY movie, this is a great way to get them. You can get unlimited movies mailed to your home. Downside – you have to actually plan what movie you want to watch a bit in advance to get it mailed to you. Upside – they have pretty much everything, including small films that will not be available at Redbox.
Cost – $7.99/month unlimited online streaming, add on $7.99/month for unlimited DVD rentals (1 out at a time – $9.99 for the Blu-ray option), $11.99/month for unlimited DVD rentals (2 out at a time – $14.99 for the Blu-ray option), $15.99/month for unlimited DVD rentals (3 out at a time – $19.99 for the Blu-ray option) OR $4.99/month for 2 DVD’s/month – one out at a time.
Includes – Instant content is fairly limited, still lots of choices, but I often find the items I am looking up are not available online. Through the mail is endless – I LOVE that selection, just don’t love the planning ahead and cost.
Parental Controls – Awesome. Easy to pick what setting you want, and easy to change.
CLICK HERE to start a 30 day trial (best way to see what you really get).

Amazon Instant Video – Well I know I’m going to have Amazon Prime anyways – I want the free shipping and other discounts. TOTALLY worth the cost for that alone. I’ve found a few series to watch on Amazon and a somewhat decent selection on movies. Again the online content is not spectacular. Most frustrating thing I find with this service is I put in a movie I want to watch and find it’s available for $2-5 and not for free.
Cost – $79 Annually ($6.58/month) unlimited online streaming + unlimited free 2 day shipping on purchases + discounts on diapers & baby care items. You can also get your membership 1/2 price if you are a student with an active .edu email for up to 4 years. (Read more here.)
Parental controls – Can’t find?
CLICK HERE to start a 1 month free trial.  You do not need to start a trial to see what is available, just head to Amazon and type in a movie / show to see if it is included for Prime members.

Favorite Shows:

H2O – My girls favorite – 3 teenage girls find themselves turned into mermaids whenever they touch water. See what kind of craziness that brings to your average high school day! Based in Australia – my girls love the accent! Available on Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Netflix

Downton Abbey – BBC Drama – Netflix: Season 1, Amazon Prime: Season 1 & 2, Hulu Plus: Season 1 & 2

Cranford – BBC Drama – Loved it! I would not watch it with my kids just because there are some medical moments that are rather intense. Clean good drama. Netflix: Not available, Amazon Prime: Seasons 1-3, Hulu Plus: Not available

Land Girls – BBC Period Drama, the women during WWII – Hulu Plus: Season 1, Amazon Prime: Not Available, Netflix: Season 1

Call the Midwife – Netflix: Not Available, Amazon Prime: $1.99/episode, Hulu Plus: Not Available

Castle – abc mystery drama – Hulu Plus: Seasons 4 & 5, Amazon Prime: Season 1-5 (pay per episode), Netflix: Not available

Suits – US drama – Hulu Plus: Seasons 1 & 2, Amazon Prime: Seasons 1 & 2 (pay per episode), Netflix: Not available

Lark Rise to Candleford – BBC lighthearted drama, one of my personal favorites!  There were a few episodes where the subject was something I’d rather not have the kids watch, but no more than PG scenes.   Amazon Prime: Seasons 1-4, Hulu Plus & Netflix: NA

I Love Lucy – Love the comedy in this one.  Love that I can watch it with my girls too.  Amazon Prime & Hulu Plus

Wives & Daughters -I loved this one, I’ve heard from others they didn’t because it moves so slow.  Another BBC drama – Amazon Prime & Netflix

Love Comes Softly – Could only find it for purchase on Amazon (the first one is really the best!)

Gilmore Girls – I would only recommend the first 3 seasons as totally clean – but super fun an witty.  Amazon Prime: Pay per episode

Merlin – recommended by readers who love Downton Abbey – Netflix Season 1-3, Hulu Plus Seasons 1 & 2


  • You forgot to mention that with amazon prime you get 1 free member lending library book a month if you have kindle. Great for those of us who love to read too.
    I only have amazon prime, that being said here are a few that my family watches a lot of.
    Numb3rs: crime fighting with math a lot like NCIS, CSI, etc. but doesn’t seem to be as graphic most of the time, no dead body parts laying on tables etc.
    Star gate: for the sci fi lover in our house.
    Sisterwives first 2 seasons
    30 rock and Icarly are both now available as well.
    Toddlers: Diego, Dora, Some episodes of ni hao kai lan, angelina ballerina, caillou and a bunch of other kids t.v. series

  • The networks stream the episodes after they’ve aired. I watch the Big Bang Theory and Bluebloods on their websites.

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