In recent years, the cost of entertainment has gotten a little ridiculous across the spectrum‒there’s more to do to entertain yourself, but finding the money to do so isn’t guaranteed. The thing is, humans need entertainment and, recognizing that, a number of sites aim to give experiences and inventory at prices nearly anyone can afford.

The next time you decide to skip the new computer or TV, miss your favorite artist in concert, or ditch all your cable channels, think about making the switch to these companies.

Best Buy for Electronics

Best Buy has certainly emerged as a go-to spot for electronics, although it’s been in competition with another big name in entertainment, Amazon. Owing to a successful run before that, however, and a fast-improving business model, the techie haven is back in the running. Focusing on the convenience of Internet sales, several policies keep online business booming.

Not long ago, common practice saw consumers looking for the best computers, TVs, cell phones, and other gadgets at Best Buy, then going elsewhere to buy them for less money. A price matching policy now handles that nicely. Combined with the Geek Squad, which has earned an excellent reputation for troubleshooting and service, Best Buy is now the place where people look for their laptops, tablets, and MP3 players.

Amazon for Everything

Amazon makes entertainment more affordable in a number of ways. Some financial experts insist that Amazon’s business model is a failure, or at least unsustainable, but if customer satisfaction serves as proof, that’s not true. The company re-invests much of the money it makes, always looking for ways to make its services faster, cheaper, and even more convenient. Recent talk of drones both emphasizes and proves that point.

Besides, the fact remains that Amazon has affordable items. It’s the place to comparison shop, as Best Buy can likely attest. Widespread categories make it possible to find nearly anything, from flat screen TVs to books and designer clothing. Prices are often cut, deals abound, and of course, Amazon offers the option to buy new or used items from third-party sellers. Independent sellers are also welcome at Amazon, which creates even more versatility in the stock.

Amazon also claimed a corner of the entertainment market with Prime, a paid-for membership service. Among other things, it offers free shipping and access to the retailer’s version of streaming media.

ScoreBig for Tickets

Tickets to concerts, plays, movies, and sporting events are expensive, and they’re getting more expensive every year.  Good seats to a great show can run you more than the cost of a flat screen TV and a few months of cable. And then there are the fees, which make tickets even more expensive.  But ScoreBig.com has created a way to make great seats to great events more affordable for everyone.

Most live events have lots of unsold tickets because of their high prices and extra fees. Even events that most people think are sold out (playoff games, popular concerts) secretly have hundreds or thousands of unsold seats.  ScoreBig gets them from ticket suppliers months in advance and lets fans make an offer on the tickets for less than box office price.  When the offer is right, ScoreBig gets the tickets to its customers instantly.  Ticket suppliers are happy because they get to sell tickets that wouldn’t have otherwise sold, (a half a loaf is better than nothing, after all) without having to advertise that their tickets are for sale at a discount. ScoreBig makes money by charging the suppliers rather than its own customers, so there are never any extra fees for the consumer.  It’s a cool way to get to the game or show without paying through the nose, and know that you’ve got the “inside deal” on a great way to save.

Netflix for Movies and TV

Netflix has pleased customers since its start, although it’s gone through ups and downs since then. Thanks to its robust instant streaming service, however, it’s been back on the rise. Giving birth to a trend of binge-watching streamed TV shows, Netflix is actually replacing cable and premium TV options for a lot of people. Rather than paying huge amounts for monthly services, people are more than happy to pay less than $8 monthly to see their favorite shows and movies instantly.

Netflix pays for content licenses, partnering with certain production companies, channels, and distributors. For instance, subscribers can now find Disney movies and certain premium cable series. It also produces its own shows now and pleased people around the world by bringing back Arrested Development. The result is that viewers can watch entire seasons of their favorite shows all at once, view new series, and see new and classic movies—and they can do it without spending too much money each month.

Groupon for Daily Deals

Groupon launched Daily Deal madness when it premiered. Its business model takes heat from some financial gurus, but it’s a basic idea that works for many consumers. Retailers, businesses, and companies simply approach Groupon with a specific number of offers, discounted from their usual prices. People get vouchers for all sorts of deals and events that they couldn’t otherwise afford or justify. While Groupon gets its cut, the savings go to the consumer. The company started out rather small, but as more companies turned to Groupon, the potential deals became more versatile.

Another aspect subscribers love is the ability to tailor their Groupon experience. When they sign up, they can choose deals based on their location, their hobbies, and their interests. On any given day, they’re emailed deals for restaurants, plays, salons, retailers, and vacations. There’s something for any type of budget, so subscribers get to do things they wouldn’t normally.

One reason for its popularity is its wide range of deals. It seems to fulfill every niche in addition to meeting almost every price point. In the areas where it’s offered, Groupon is also beneficial to the local economy. While big name brands offer deals through the site daily, local businesses can also pair with the site for fair rates, which can help them gain a new foothold in their communities.

In the current economic climate, it pays to offer consumers a chance to entertain themselves without breaking their budgets or making them feel guilty for the expense. When the prices are within reach, repeat business is practically a guarantee.

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Featured photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc

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