And now for something more cerebral than “Watching Blacked out NFL Games with Internet Streaming” lets look at how a cord cutter might deal with a very popular show from PBS: Downton Abbey. If you listen to NPR you know they’ve been publicizing the hell out of upcoming season 3 with live interviews of the upstairs downstairs actors. And I got to hand it to them, this show (which I’ve yet to watch) sounds pretty interesting. What sounds intriguing was the concept that this was a time (early 20th century) when people were just content to be the best at whatever station they were born into, be it master, servant, butler etc.
But I digress. Say you are a cord cutter anxious to tune in to this show, both past and present seasons. What are your choices? Our quick min-survey finds:
1. Put up an Antenna
Yep, PBS was actually one of the first networks to start broadcasting in HD. And they have stations in most major cities. So if you want to see season 3, traditional over the air is the easiest way. I did a quick search using my own local KPBS station and see all the upcoming season 3 listings. Unfortunately no reruns of past seasons show up. I give PBS some credit for providing very clean easy to read search results:
- Masterpiece Classic
- Downton Abbey, Season 3 – Part 3
- Downton Abbey, Season 3 – Part 4
- Downton Abbey, Series II – Part Seven
2. Get Netflix
Here I have some luck with reruns. It appears Season 1 is available. And someone living here has already put in my queue.
Results for Downton Abbey
But Where is Downton Abbey season 2?
OK so I have season 1 and 3 taken care of. What about season 2 ? A quick google search shows PBS will be airing just a couple of them before switching over to season 3. I check out HULU free which tricks me. It lists all of the season 2 shows but when I click on one I get
“This Video is only available with Hulu Plus”
OK so here is something the much maligned Hulu Plus can offer. But Hulu Plus is $8/month and I’m not paying that just to watch Downton Abbey.
3. Amazon Instant Video vs iTunes
Amazon offers Downton Abbey Season 2 either at $1.99 per episode or $2.99 for HD. Or I can buy a DVD of the entire season for $22.93
iTunes is comparable but a little better deal on the entire season at $19.99 and offers only the HD episodes at the same $2.99.
4. Other Methods
Unlike live sports this content is available from multiple and legal OTT providers. Yes I know all about torrents and would not consider them when relatively low cost pay per view is available.
Just for fun I took a look at eBay and see quite a bit of activity but mostly the final price ends up, at best, a buck or two off the regular retail.
The British site ITV.com offers these as rentals for 1.29 Euro ($1.70). A little savings. I’m not sure if you’d run into a proxy requirement (the free episodes won’t play to the US). More interesting I learned from this review in Slate, is that the US is behind the UK in broadcast.
Other ideas? Let us know in the comments below.