Quitting cable is often touted as a way to save money. But does it really work? Can you watch your favorite shows and movies while saving money?
We explain how streaming saves you money over cable and break down the costs of the most popular streaming services compared to cable costs.
How Streaming is Cheaper Than Cable
Before we compare costs, let’s examine how streaming saves you money over cable besides price-point.
With cable TV, you generally have to sign up for a year or more contract period. This locks you into paying for services regardless of how much or how little you use them. You’ll typically incur a cancellation fee if you want to cancel before your contract term is up.
Streaming, by contrast, gives you total flexibility and control over your memberships. If you want to cancel one service and subscribe to another, for whatever reason, you can. You can take a break from service for some time and then return.
You’re not required to commit and pay for something that you may not use as much in the future. And, in doing so, this also saves you money.
Watch On Your Own Time
Streaming allows you to choose what you want to watch and when you want to watch it. There’s no wasting your time channel-surfing and getting sucked into something you had no intention of watching in the first place. Plus, say goodbye to planning your schedule around a live event or a program you can’t DVR.
Streaming sites often have custom-tailored recommendations based on previous viewing habits, simplifying the process of finding new movies or shows. Or you simply search for the content you like.
How does this save you time? You can spend more time on things more fulfilling things than television, like family, work, or recreation. If time is money, streaming gives you a whole lot of money back.
Choose Your Own Content
Broadcast news and sports are primarily limited to local stories and events, excluding those few big national headlines.
With streaming, you can watch a greater variety of more in-depth coverage. Tune into the news stories and live sporting events that interest you most. Plus, you can access a wider array of news and sports channels than on cable.
Keeping Up With Technology
The future of TV shows and movies is streaming. Major networks developing streaming channels of their own and the decline of movie theaters (COVID-19 notwithstanding) are evidence of the seismic shift from traditional content delivery (broadcast media) to streaming.
As a result, technology will support streaming more than traditional content delivery as time goes on. To keep up with changing times and avoid obsolete technology or not being able to use the currently available technology, you’ll eventually need to shift to streaming anyway. And, the longer you wait, the more costly it may be to accomplish.
But What About Internet?
Is your cable TV service bundled with your broadband internet? Do you have unlimited data on your mobile phone? If like many people, you’ve answered yes to both questions, you’re essentially paying for internet service twice.
Cutting the cable cord also eliminates the unnecessary expense of paying for broadband internet when you already have an excellent wireless internet connection for streaming.
And if you want to stream on a larger screen than your mobile devices, you can always use screencast or AirPlay to switch the programming from your phone to your TV.
Alternatively, you can unbundle your cable from your broadband, get rid of the cable, and keep the broadband. You’ll still save money from ditching the cable portion of that unnecessarily high bill.
Cost Comparison of Cable vs. Streaming
Direct replacement services for cable TV, such as YouTube TV and Sling TV, start at $25. These give you access to most of the same live channels, news, and sports you can get on any cable box. Now let’s compare that $25 price tag with the costs of some major cable companies.
Costs of Major Cable Subscriptions
The following are the subscription prices for some of the most common cable services available, compiled by the comparison engine, Wirefly.
Typical Cost of Cable Service
You’ll notice an extensive range of costs for each service. That’s only partly due to the difference between paying monthly or annually; it’s also because each plan offers a select number of specific channels.
To get even just one channel a particular plan doesn’t offer, such as the channel playing your favorite show, you must upgrade a whole plan tier.
Note that many of these costs also reflect bundling with internet services.
Popular Streaming Platform Costs
Although streaming service costs can change quickly, here are some current comparisons at the time of writing, listed monthly unless otherwise stated.
Amazon Prime Video – $12.99 monthly; $119 yearly
Apple TV+ – $4.99
Disney+ – $7.99 monthly; $79.99 yearly
FuboTV – $69.99 FuboTV Pro; $79.99 FuboTV Elite
HBO Max – $9.99 with ads; $14.99 without ads
Hulu – $6.99 with ads; $12.99 without ads; get the first month free with either plan
Netflix – $9.99 Basic plan; $15.49 Standard plan; $19.99 Premium plan
Peacock – $4.99 Peacock Premium; $9.99 Peacock Premium Plus
Sling TV – $35 Sling Blue or Sling Orange; $50 Sling Orange + Blue; get $10 off the first month with all plans
Note that some of these services offer free plans. They may include commercials or have other limitations, but are still a great way to get started in streaming while saving yourself even more money when you cut the cable cord.
In addition, many of these services, like Amazon Prime Video, also offer free trials to check out their services and program offerings before you commit.
This saves you money in two ways. It gives you a few weeks or months here and there of free streaming service and lets you try before you buy, which is always a cost saving.
Final thoughts on cutting cable costs
You’re so close to getting all the programming you want when you want! With streaming services, you can take your entertainment with you on the go and avoid paying for services and channels you don’t use. First, find the streaming platform or platforms offering the content you seek and, of those, find the ones that provide it on the technology you already own.