Cutting the Cord: Money-Saving Cable AlternativesOctober 24, 2016
Updated December 20, 2019
Cable television has been around for decades, and the majority of American households have had a cable plan at some point. However, with cable bills on the rise — averaging $103 per month — the service can consume a significant chunk of one’s monthly budget. If you are looking for ways to cut down on costs, and you have yet to “cut the cord,” reevaluating your cable situation may help you save money — and have more leftover — to allocate to other categories of your budget. Keep reading for tips on how to survive without cable, including adopting money-saving cable alternatives like:
If you are not a big cable TV viewer, you might want to consider getting a subscription (or multiple) to a streaming service. The three most popular streaming services are Netflix®, Hulu®, and Amazon Prime Video®. As far as pricing, Netflix costs $9 to $16 and Hulu starts at $5.99, while Amazon Prime Video goes for $8.99/month or comes with an Amazon Prime subscription for $119/year. Each have overlapping content, but Netflix is known for having the most movies, and Hulu is known for television shows that can be streamed soon after they premiere on cable TV. Amazon Prime TV features a variety of TV shows and movies, including new releases. These services stream over the Internet, and can be viewed on your Smart TV or through streaming devices like AppleTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV. Hulu recently added the feature of live TV as well, and Disney launched their own service, Disney+®, in winter of 2019.
There are two types of television-watching people: those who are content without the traditional cable channels and can get by with streaming services, and those who need their channels. One misconception about cutting out traditional cable plans is that you will no longer be able to get access to your favorite channels like HGTV or ESPN. Fortunately, there are several cable-replacement services that allow you to customize a channel plan that fits your preferences. Services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue let you pay for only the channels you want and work exactly like traditional cable, except they stream over the Internet. PlayStation Vue packages start at around $40 per month, while Sling TV can run around $20 a month for the basic package of 25 channels, with the option of adding extra channel packages that range from $5 to $15 extra a month. Like streaming services, cable-replacements can be streamed through streaming devices.
More cable companies have started adopting the customizable cable packages. For instance, Dish Network recently rolled out their new “Flex Pack,” which starts at $39.99 per month and includes a base package of 50 channels and one “add-on package,” and Comcast is set to introduce their customizable cable package soon.
Crunching the Numbers
How much can you really save by cutting out cable? The answer depends on the cost of your original cable bill and which of the above services you choose. To give an example, say your cable bill costs the average $103 a month, and you want to pick one streaming service and one cable-replacement service. You can pay a one-time fee of around $40 for a streaming device like Amazon Fire TV, $8 a month for the basic Netflix package, and $25 a month for Sling TV (with the sports package add-on). That makes a one-time payment of $40 and a monthly recurring cost of $33 — saving you $70 a month and $840 a year. Savings like this show that if you are looking for an area of your budget to cut costs in, your cable package is a great place to start.
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