Cord Cutting Options: The Pros, Cons and Costs of Quitting Cable
The average cost of cable in 2016 came to a whopping $103.10 per month, according to Leichtman Research Group. With a single bill this expensive, it's no wonder millions of people are looking for cord cutting options to fit their situation.
But is it really cheaper to forgo cable in favor of streaming services?
These days, there's no shortage of cord cutting options, but hopping on too many options can quickly add up to be as expensive or more expensive than cable. It's important to understand your cord cutting options and pick which one is right for you.
Netflix-only shows and specials, plus the ability to download select programs to watch offline, make this service extra enticing. However, the basic plan only allows you to use the account on one screen at a time, so families may find that the extra money is worth it for the premium plan, which allows simultaneous streaming on four devices.
Hulu has original series, too, like "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Difficult People". It's also now piloting a Live TV option ($39.99/month), so subscribers can watch live TV via a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS, Xbox One, Apple TV and Chromecast. The baseline account allows you to stream simultaneously from two devices. Commercial-free streaming also comes at an additional cost.
Cost: $10.99/month or $99/year
Beyond streaming movies and shows, Prime membership comes with a slew of benefits, including two-day shipping plus the ability to stream music and borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
As with many services, Amazon original shows are only available for Prime members. You can pay less if you only want to stream movies and shows — or more if you want access to premium networks like HBO or Showtime.
HBO NOW allows you to stream HBO shows and movies from your phone, tablet, computer or TV without an existing cable provider.
This is different from HBO GO, which is included when you pay for the channel via a cable provider (like DirectTV). HBO breaks down the differences, and provides a list of supported devices. You can also add HBO to your Prime subscription for the same monthly price.
Add It All Up
While these cord cutting options can save you money, using multiple services does start to add up.
If you're a sports fan, you'll need to pay even closer attention to the math, as packages like NFL Game Pass will set you back $100 per season. So make sure to weigh the total cost of your subscriptions against what you'd pay for cable, keeping in mind your particular TV watching needs.
Watch out for restrictions that could be deal-breakers, like not being able to watch live games until after they're over or limits on the number of devices a given subscription allows. And price out any associated equipment, like devices and connectors.
The big perk of subscription services is that you can stop and start month to month, saving you a little extra cash if you're traveling for an extended period or know you'll be spending more time outside during the summer months. But as cable providers scramble to keep up, you may find it's still cheaper to bundle internet and cable.
If you're thinking about cord cutting, take advantage of any free trials a streaming service offers. It will help you assess how much you'll use a given service and if it's worth the money. Just don't forget to cancel any services you don't want after the trial period so your credit card isn't charged. If it turns out that cord cutting isn't right for you, remember that there are plenty of other ways to save.