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Each year, more people choose to say goodbye to their cable subscriptions. The most common reason is usually cost, but is cutting the cord saving anyone money these days?
It might seem that way, particularly if you’re frustrated with your TV provider. But cutting the cord comes with additional expenses and may not be the best move for you if you’re looking for access to everything. Streaming services are a great alternative for live and On Demand shows, but they’re not always as all-inclusive as cable TV or satellite TV providers.
Streaming and cable each have pros and cons, price differences, and a unique combination of content. To help you decide, we’ve put together this detailed comparison of streaming vs. cable bundles.
Cable vs. Streaming: Price
The price of cable depends on the companies and services available in your area. Due to the popularity of cord-cutting, many internet and TV providers offer stripped-down and lower-priced plans. These plans are designed to appeal to customers who are considering cutting the cord.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve assembled an overview of the prices most major providers offer. When looking at the price of cable, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll likely see price increases after your promotional period ends.
Let’s look at the costs you can expect to pay for cable television:
|Provider||Starting Price||Find Plans Near Me|
|Spectrum||$59.99/mo. – $99.99/mo.||Check Availability|
|Sparklight||$42 – $99.75*||Check Availability|
|Xfinity||$30.00/mo. – $89.99/mo.||Check Availability|
|Starting Price||$59.99/mo. – $99.99/mo.|
|Starting Price||$42 – $99.75*|
|Starting Price||$30.00/mo. – $89.99/mo.|
Pricing, speeds, offers, and availability vary by service address and are subject to change at any time. Additional fees, taxes, and terms may apply. As of 03/11/22.
Let’s look at the costs you can expect to pay for live TV streaming:
|Hulu + Live||$69.99 to $75.99/mo.|
|fuboTV||$64.99 to $74.99/mo.|
|Sling TV||$35 to $50/mo.|
|Provider||Hulu + Live|
|Price Range||$69.99 to $75.99/mo.|
|Price Range||$64.99 to $74.99/mo.|
|Price Range||$35 to $50/mo.|
On Demand streaming subscriptions without live TV options are even cheaper—ranging from $5.99/mo. for Hulu with ads to $17.99/mo. for Netflix.
If price is your deciding factor, streaming will almost always be the winner. And, they typically don’t charge broadcast or equipment fees (but you will need a streaming device) nor are there usually required contracts or regular price hikes. It’s a great option for the budget-conscious.
However, be careful about racking up subscriptions. Sometimes these cheaper streaming options are limited on what they can air due to broadcasting rights, which leads viewers to get multiple ones that can add up. If you want access to a wide variety of TV shows and movies, a TV service might be more cost-effective then.
Cable vs. Streaming: Content
Live TV streaming services might offer fewer channels than cable television, but they make up for it by providing the top channels and the newest content. For example, YouTube TV provides access to premier channels, such as major sports networks, Nickelodeon, and IFC. Hulu + Live TV bundles Disney+ with its service.
Many people still stick with cable because it typically offers a wider variety of channels and reduces decision fatigue.
Choosing to bundle internet and TV makes sense for people with large households where many people will be watching at the same time. Unlike streaming, cable channels won’t buffer or slow down no matter how many people are watching simultaneously.
Let’s break down the differences in content:
|Service||# of Channels||Premium Networks||On-Demand library|
|Cable||150 – 400+||Yes – with some plans||Yes – mostly reruns of older shows|
|Streaming||30 – 95+||Yes – for additional fees||Yes – including original content|
|# of Channels||150 â 400+|
|Premium Networks||Yes â with some plans|
|On-Demand library||Yes â mostly reruns of older shows|
|# of Channels||30 â 95+|
|Premium Networks||Yes â for additional fees|
|On-Demand library||Yes â including original content|
Even though streaming comes with fewer costs, you’ll likely have to subscribe to multiple services to get all of the channels you love to watch. But if you find the right cable bundle, a single provider might be able to offer all of the content you and your family crave.
Bundling Cable: Pros & Cons
Through the rise of cord-cutting, cable often gets a bad rap. However, many providers have responded to the cord-cutting trend by offering more per plan, bundling some streaming services, and even reducing rates for premium content. Without a doubt, cable does have some advantages over streaming.
Things we like:
Great regional selection
Most streaming services don’t offer a very good regional TV selection. For watchers who enjoy sports and listening to local news stations, cable TV is the better option.
Some channels are only available through cable bundles. This includes 24-hour news networks, various premium subscriptions, and many local channels. While streaming services might give you access to a few of these, you’ll need cable to watch the majority of them.
Things to consider:
Cable might reduce choice fatigue, but it’s at the expense of certain content. Streaming offers original TV shows and movies you can’t access anywhere else. However, whether this is a pro or con depends on the content you’re looking for.
Complex equipment fees
Beyond paying for a cable subscription, you’ll also have to pay for equipment, such as a DVR or cable boxes. While they are often a relatively low cost per month, this adds up over the years.
Streaming Pros: & Cons
Things we like:
Relatively lower price range
When comparing the cost of a cable subscription and a streaming subscription, streaming is usually the least expensive choice. For this reason alone, streaming is a great option for budget shoppers.
Fewer Price Increases
The costs of streaming are more straightforward; while the prices may rise now and then, it’s much different than cable. You won’t experience price range increases every year like you would when renewing a cable subscription.
No long-term contracts
The lack of long-term contracts is arguably one of the biggest advantages to streaming. If you need to cancel your subscription to a streaming platform, you can do so at any time and not have to worry about early termination and other cancellation fees.
Highly flexible content
With the variety of streaming apps available, you have access to any content you could ever want. This is a huge pro for large families or households–everyone is sure to find something they want to watch.
Things to consider:
A large amount of content isn’t always an advantage, though. Choice fatigue is real when it comes to streaming; you might spend hours scrolling through titles trying to find something to watch rather than watching a show.
Benefits of Bundling vs. Standalone Internet
Depending on how many streaming subscriptions you have, you might not save anything over bundling cable. Similarly, if you have a large household where multiple people plan to watch TV simultaneously, you’ll likely have to upgrade your internet service to compensate.
There are a few things that can make bundling your internet and cable a less expensive solution than subscribing to streaming services:
- Many TV cable bundles come with free streaming libraries. You might be able to get Netflix or other popular streaming platforms included with your cable subscription.
- If you like to watch sports, the channels don’t come cheap. If you’re looking for specific sports channels, you’ll pay a lot more for standalone services than cable.
Another significant worry when it comes to streaming is exceeding the data caps some providers impose. Anything beyond that limit, the provider can slow down your speeds or charge extra for the data overage. For large households and frequent streamers, this is a legitimate concern.
Which One is Best for You?
Overall, the costs of streaming vs. cable come down to how many channels and services you want. For example, if you plan to cut the cord and subscribe to a few different live or On-Demand services, your monthly costs might be higher than a cable bundle, particularly if you need to upgrade your internet.
If you fall into any of the following groups, you stand to gain the most by bundling cable:
- People who watch TV regularly.
- People with medium to large households.
- People who watch sports.
In the end, your best option is to determine the content that is most important to you. Once you know what you want, you can begin to formulate concrete price comparisons between cable and streaming services to get access to your must-have shows and channels.