Cutting the Cable TV Cord: How to Find Your Favorite Kid and Adult Shows

Many of us would love to save money by dropping the video portion of our cable bill, now inching up to $50 to $100 per month, a whopping $600 to 1200 per year for TV alone.  But then we get nervous.  What will I do without my DVR?  How will I catch the World Series?  As a result, few people Cable Boxactually cut the cord, as Mark Rogowsky writes on Cord Cutting: The Promise TV Viewers Keep On Breaking in Forbes.  If you’d like to be one of those to finally cut that cord, here’s a quick how to guide, with a focus on children’s programming.


  • First Principle: Streaming makes DVR’s obsolete. If you have access to all episodes at any time, you don’t need to record them. Recording is as obsolete as the VCR. My round up for shows is as follows. Note that your show will usually appear the day after it airs on cable.

    • Amazon Prime is the winner for children’s shows. It has exclusive Nick content, as well as most PBS Kids shows. Many of us already have Prime for our shipping convenience, but don’t take advantage of streaming. Watch out for shows that aren’t free, and be sure your child is either supervised or on a device that doesn’t allow purchasing, such as the iPad, vs the Roku, as seen in this table. Be sure to watch your child or explain not to purchase a show. For example, Pixar movies are sold or rented, and the current season of popular TV shows often have a charge. The link for the App is here.

    • Hulu Plus has many shows available for $8/month. I watch my ABC shows on Hulu, and our au pair has dozens selected under favorites. The App link is here. Free Hulu only works on your computer and has fewer shows available.

    • and and their apps have most shows available with full content. Hello The Good Wife and Downton Abbey, both free. Here are links for the apps for CBS, PBS and PBS Kids.

    • Netflix is best for original content. Many of my friends are addicted to the Netflix Original series, but my kids are not big fans of their content. The Netflix App is here.


  • Second Principle: Download for airplanes. For times when you’re not connected to the internet, be sure to download an episode. There’s often an additional cost for this. There are several ways to access shows on your computer or tablet. I usually choose content that is not available for free through streaming, such as Pixar movies. Be sure to price shop as sometimes one site is cheaper, but not always.

    • Amazon Prime. You must purchase on a computer or Kindle but can download onto your iPad or iPhone. For instance, the Cars movie is $20. After purchasing the movie, download like this. Content shows up under your Amazon Instant video app on your iPad.

    • iTunes. If you are on an Apple, a convenient option that’s easy to use. As of today, the Cars movie is the same $20 as on Amazon.  Content shows up under the Videos app on your iPad.

    • Handbrake. This free shareware helps you upload DVDs that you already own. Please note that you might not have the legal right to upload copyrighted materials. Once you’ve uploaded a DVD onto your computer’s desktop, drag it onto the iTunes icon. Content shows up under the Videos app on your iPad.


  • Third Principle:  Parental controls are tricky. While many offer parental controls, I’ve found many of them easy to circumvent. Please remember that you need to restrict your overall device, as well as the settings for any video playing apps, such as Videos, Amazon Videos, Netflix and more.

    • Amazon: Amazon offers parental controls for some devices listed here. Here are the instructions. You need to restrict the device based on the ratings level of the content.  If you restrict the device, you cannot access content without resetting the device. This seems the strongest; however, it would be ideal to offer a PIN to unlock your grownup shows. Note that Amazon does not allow purchasing of video content from your iPad, so you don’t have to worry about losing money here; however, you do have to watch your Roku and other devices.

    • Netflix. Netflix’s parental controls are easy to circumvent. You set restrictions for a given profile, say your child’s, but the child can just swap to your profile.

    • iTunes. You can restrict the iTunes store access like this.  You can also restrict each device, similar to the Amazon restrictions:


  • Fourth Principle:  Sports can be tougher.   Here are the current options:

    • MLB subscription currently (as of 3/19/14) is a one-time annual fee of $19.99 for the entire 2014 season and a monthly fee of $2.99 if you buy it now, or if you wait until baseball season it is $129 for the season or $24.99/month.

    • Mohu leaf is an antenna that your pin (or blue tape) to the wall for live viewing on your TV. I used this product for the World Series and was able to gain reception easily. You might check what channels others are getting in your area. For us, we easily get PBS but not Fox.


Please share your experiences!


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