Streaming vs. Cable: Cut the Cord or Buy a Bundle?

Cable vs Streaming

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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:

ProviderStarting PriceFind Plans Near Me
Spectrum$59.99/mo. – $99.99/mo.Check Availability
Cox$50/mo.Check Availability
Suddenlink$105.00/mo.Check Availability
Sparklight$42 – $99.75*Check Availability
Xfinity$30.00/mo. – $89.99/mo.Check Availability
ProviderSpectrum
Starting Price$59.99/mo. – $99.99/mo.
Check Availability
ProviderCox
Starting Price$50/mo.
Check Availability
ProviderSuddenlink
Starting Price$105.00/mo.
Check Availability
ProviderSparklight
Starting Price$42 – $99.75*
Check Availability
ProviderXfinity
Starting Price$30.00/mo. – $89.99/mo.
Check Availability

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:

ProviderPrice Range
YouTube TV$64.99/mo.
Hulu + Live$69.99 to $75.99/mo.
Philo$25/mo.
fuboTV$64.99 to $74.99/mo.
Sling TV$35 to $50/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.
ProviderYouTube TV
Price Range$64.99/mo.
ProviderHulu + Live
Price Range$69.99 to $75.99/mo.
ProviderPhilo
Price Range$25/mo.
ProviderfuboTV
Price Range$64.99 to $74.99/mo.
ProviderSling TV
Price Range$35 to $50/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.

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 ChannelsPremium NetworksOn-Demand library
Cable150 – 400+Yes – with some plansYes – mostly reruns of older shows
Streaming30 – 95+Yes – for additional feesYes – including original content
ServiceCable
# of Channels150 – 400+
Premium NetworksYes – with some plans
On-Demand libraryYes – mostly reruns of older shows
ServiceStreaming
# of Channels30 – 95+
Premium NetworksYes – for additional fees
On-Demand libraryYes – 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:
Things to consider:

Streaming Pros: & Cons

Streaming is a great alternative to paid cable and offers a wide variety of platforms and choices to tailor your viewing. But it might not be the right choice for every household.

Things we like:
Things to consider:

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.

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Keith Carlson
Keith is a Contributing Writer for HighSpeedOptions with over 10 years of experience in writing and marketing. He has written for and contributed to organizations in the non-profit, financial, and enterprise internet and cable service industries. At HighSpeedOptions, Keith covers everything from broadband news to emerging technologies and how they complement different lifestyles and budgetary needs. In his free time, Keith enjoys spending time with his family, reading as many books as he can, and photography.