A recent price increase from our long time cable TV provided prompted me to bite the bullet and switch to satellite. It isn't a whole lot cheaper but the satellite service offers more channels and some better channels hat were not available from our old provider.
Almost every channel we regularly watch is actually a free to air channels. This means that anyone with the appropriate equipment can receive these for free along with hundreds of other channels without any recurring subscription. A disadvantage of living in Ireland is that we would need both antenna and satellite dish to receive all the relevant channels but a once off investment of perhaps €500 would ensure we could watch hundreds of channels for free without paying a subscription.
Why on earth did I opt to pay €20 every month (rising to €30 in a years time ) for a curated satellite service?
Because we don't watch TV the way we used to. Instead of sitting down to watch scheduled programmes at the same time every week we record them to view at our leisure. We use series link to record entire series. We use streaming services to download films and box sets. We use catchup services to watch programmes we missed. Even if we just want to sit in front of a telly and vegetate we still hit the electronic programme guide to find a channel and programme that tickles our interest.
The electronic programme guide, the ability to record whole series, the ability to pause live TV, the ability to record programmes in the background while you watch others, the ability to watch catchup programmes and box sets and movies on demand. These are not just nice things to have they are essential requirements of the modern television experience.
The cheapest subscription free systems don't have any of these services. The more expensive ones include hard disks and offer some of these features but everything I have read suggests that they are a long way behind the paid services in terms of usability and convenience.
This is why I pay a monthly subscription. There is no point getting hundreds of channels for free if we cant watch them the way we want. The fact that the paid service comes with a few extra premium channels is just a bonus.
Edit: I should mention that I did investigate the option of IP TV but the range of services available in Ireland is extremely limited and they are all tied to internet service providers.