Cutting the Cord: Is It Time To Drop Your Cable Subscription?
I was inspired; I may have spent last Sunday binge watching a few hours worth of shows and movies on Netflix. I gotta say, the selection was pretty impressive.
If you still have cable tv, you may notice it’s expensive. Cable prices have been rising much faster than inflation for the past two decades. With prices that can range from $50 to $100+ per month, more people than ever are opting to cut the cord—and more than 4 out of 5 blame the high cost for their decision.
Which is not to say streaming is a perfect replacement for cable. Many local channels aren’t on the big streaming services, so if you love watching live parade coverage, you may miss out. Streaming services also suffer occasional outages or dips in quality during big football games. And most streaming services limit you to two or three simultaneous streams.
Still, while dropping cable may mean your monthly Internet fee goes up, you’re likely to save some money by cutting the cord. You’ll also be gaining a lot of convenience; streaming shows are available whenever you want them, and often without any commercials. Here’s a quick breakdown of your best streaming options:
- Netflix: Over 4,000 movies, 1,500 TV shows, and many original series like Daredevil. Standard plan is $11/mo for HD on 2 screens. Premium 4 screens and Ultra HD for $14/mo, Barebones one screen (no HD) for $8/mo.
- HBONow: $15/mo brings you HBO’s original content like Game of Thrones, and most of the Oscar-nominated movies. The overall selection, however, is not as large as other options.
- Amazon Prime Video: Many shows on Amazon carry an additional upsell charge atop your $9/mo subscription fee. The main advantage of Amazon Video is that if you already have Amazon Prime for shipping reasons, Prime Video is included.
- Hulu: Watch over 43,000 TV episodes for $12/mo, or if you’re willing to sit through commercials, $8/mo. You can add Live TV on top of that and pay $44/mo or $40/mo respectively, although if you want live TV you might prefer...
- Live Streaming: Whether you opt for DirecTV’s $40/mo for 70 channels or SlingTV’s $25/mo for 30-40 channels ($30 if you want to record anything), live TV is an option if you just can't live without currently-running shows.
- Build-Your-Own: Most niches have their own streaming service. If you mainly watched cable for baseball and anime, you can get MLB.tv for $113/year, and Crunchyroll for $7/mo. Getting two services is still likely cheaper than cable.
Although keep in mind, once you have a streaming service, you need something to stream it with.
If you have a relatively new high-end TV, it’s probably a SmartTV with streaming built in. If your TV is older and you’re not looking to replace it, you’ll need a box.
- Roku Streaming Stick 4k ($70) is compatible with most channels and streaming services (including everything mentioned above), and boasts an intuitive search feature.
- Amazon Fire TV 4k ($70) is perfect for integrating with Alexa, but focuses mainly on Amazon products.
- Chromecast 4k ($70) meanwhile refuses Amazon Prime Video, but can be controlled via your phone.
- AppleTV 4k ($180) is a little pricey, but integrates with your other Apple products, as well as sharing their clean interface.
- Nvidia Shield ($190) is another pricey option with strong hardware and USB ports, but may be overkill unless you’re a gamer.