Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Saving on Kids' Programming



When I was a kid, we moved around every few years.  I distinctly remember the excitement of turning on the TV in a new locale, and finding out that we had Disney channel.  Disney!  The most coveted of all kids' channels, which I now know is because it was in one of the most expensive cable packages.

In retrospect, I'm sure my mother must have gotten a great deal.  She probably wasn't concerned about prices going up after the one-year contract was over, because there were good odds we'd be packing up and leaving at that point anyways.  My sibling and I were so incredibly grateful.  We had something to watch other than the public broadcast kids' channel, and the only other kids' station of which my mother wouldn't let us watch 75% of the programming.

The times have changed.  Where my mother's options were cable and VHS tapes, today we have so many streaming options that paying outlandish prices for kids' channels on cable or loading up on a personal DVD library seem like traditions of the past. If you're just starting out on your cable-free journey, here are the ways we've been saving on kids' programming since we cut the cord.

Subscription Streaming Services

In my part of the world, the best I've found for this is Netflix.  Their prize streaming material isn't so much in the movies they have available, but the shows.  For my kids' attention spans, that is perfect.  Other options in your area may include Presto and Stan.  It would appear Stan has less of the popular kids' TV shows, but they do have a lot of movies for a child-aged audience.  These services range from $9-$15/month.

YouTube

YouTube is amazing.  Since you can make money off of ads, there are companies that exclusively make kids' programming, viewable for free, for YouTube.  It's been a goldmine for us largely for educational pursuits.  I taught my kids how to count.  When we got to the ABCs, they were mildly interested.  But introduce a talking train that helps them find all the letters?  They know the alphabet and introductory phonics so well now that they can do it backwards.  

It's funny to me, because when I was growing up watching TV there would be ads before, after, and during the shows I was watching.  Now my kids are so spoiled by ad-less streaming that when a skippable ad comes up every few videos they get concerned that I've picked the wrong show.  That is one thing to watch out for with YouTube.  The ads, even on kids' videos, are not always kid-friendly.

Libraries

Your local library can also be a great place to go for kids' shows and movies.  Scroll through their catalog for movies and shows available to borrow on DVD.  All for the price of $0.

Cutting the Cord Doesn't Mean You're Tossing the TV

When you first cut cable, it can feel like you're putting yourself through a great deal of self deprivation.  Really, with all the options we have today, you probably won't even notice that it's missing.  Neither will your kids.

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