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For most of us, internet and cable tv are among the highest monthly expenses we have so it’s not surprising to learn that there’s been a mad rush toward Cord Cutting. The savings can be extreme!
Last year I concluded that we were paying way too much for a combination of internet, a cable tv package that included every channel imaginable, Netflix, Hulu+ and Amazon Prime. When I added up all of the costs, I was shocked. We were paying over $350 per month for this stuff!
After doing a little research I, like so many of my friends and neighbors, came to the conclusion that we could do much, much better. When all was said and done we ended up saving close to $200 per month. That’s $2400 per year for us that we will happily save or spend 🙂
So, What is Cord Cutting?
Cord cutting simply means eliminating your cable TV subscription and switching over to alternative digital content sources, such as “free to air channels” and on-demand content platforms, such as Netflix.
It can be a great way to save yourself a bundle of cash each and every month. And the best part is if you do it properly, you could end up with an even better selection of digital content to enjoy.
So, cord-cutting can be a win-win, but it pays to figure out your plan of action before canceling your cable TV subscription.
Some More Basics
Unless you’re prepared to go without any sort of video entertainment, you’ll need to find suitable substitutes for cable TV before cutting the cord.
Most of these alternatives will rely on a solid and reliable internet connection.
It’s important to confirm that your internet service runs at at least ten megabits per second; otherwise, you may find that video streams do not run smoothly.
In our case, we canceled our expensive internet service from COX Cable and replaced it with a less expensive, faster service from Century Link. That gave us an immediate savings of $50 per month.
You can also get an antenna set up to access free to air channels like ABC, CBS, FOX PBS, plus sub-networks like Comet and some cartoon channels.
How Much Can I Save?
At this point, you’re probably wondering if cutting the cord is worth the hassle. So, before exploring some of the alternatives to cable TV in more detail, it’s a good idea to give you an indication of how much you can save.
The average household cable package is now $220 per month. That generally includes internet service and a cable tv package with a premium channel or two. Add Netflix and another couple of streaming services and you can see how so many people are paying $300+ per month on this stuff.
Cord cutting can quite easily save you a lot of money each month, without reducing the pool of video content you have access to – you might even end up with more.
What Are the Alternatives to Cable TV?
There are quite a few alternatives to cable TV, each with different pros and cons.
Video Streaming Services
There are loads of video streaming services to choose from, including the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and several less popular platforms. Such services charge a monthly or annual fee and give you access to a never-ending selection of content to watch, including TV shows available on cable, movies (new releases and classics), and “original” series.
The latter is essentially TV series that have been produced by the streaming provider itself, and they are usually exclusively available on that particular platform.
Free to Air Channels
Even in this day and age, you can access a decent offering of TV channels via a free to air antenna. As mentioned, channels that are available free to air include those that are part of the Fox, ABC, and CBS networks, plus many other local channels and so-called “shopping channels.”
Lastly, we have YouTube. You probably already use YouTube and know that it has tons of video content ready for you to watch free of charge, including reviews, old movies and series, sports highlights, and much more.
It usually works out better to watch these films and shows on a dedicated video streaming platform, so you should only consider buying them on YouTube if they aren’t available elsewhere.
YouTube offers a free trial of their YouTube TV product which give you a great selection of live TV channels plus a large library of TV shows and movies. We liked it but we went with the Hulu TV product because it had a slightly better channel line up for us.
Cord Cutting Pros
There are many potential pros of cord-cutting – and in many cases, it can be a no-brainer, as you’ll be better off financially and have a better selection of content available to you.
Cord-cutting can allow you to save a not inconsiderable amount of money over the course of a year, as we discussed earlier in this guide. So, if times are tough or if you simply want to cut back your spending, cord-cutting is pretty much a no-brainer.
If done properly, cord-cutting can give you access to a more generous selection of video content, including live shows, movies, TV series, sports, and much more.
Cord-cutting invariably involves utilizing at least one video streaming platform, which gives you access to a huge pool of on-demand content that you can enjoy at your leisure. This means no more staying up to catch the latest episode of your favorite show – you can watch it at your convenience.
Easily Change Your Subscriptions
The alternatives to cable TV offer you plenty of flexibility, so you can easily cancel a subscription or start a new one whenever you feel like doing so. This is especially important towards the beginning of the process, as you’ll be trying to determine which video streaming platforms have the best content for you, so a bit of experimenting can help you make your mind up.
Most platforms also offer a free trial, so feel free to use that to get a sense of the type of content they have.
Cord Cutting Cons
As with anything, cord-cutting isn’t without its potential cons.
Good Wi-Fi is Required and may be more expensive once you unbundle from your cable.
As most of the alternatives to cable TV (except for free to air channels) require an internet connection, you’ll need to get one set up if you don’t already have Wi-Fi in your home.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to get pretty fast internet to avoid video buffering. High-speed Wi-Fi can be pretty expensive and might eat into the cost savings you’re making by cutting the cord.
It’s Not Always Possible to Have Access to Everything
For most types of content available on cable TV, they should also be available on alternative platforms. However, some shows or other entertainment types, such as live sports broadcasts, are exclusive to cable TV and can’t be accessed anywhere else.
So, before making the commitment and cutting the cord, you should think long and hard about whether or not you can go without having access to some of your favorite content.
There are quite a few cord-cutting costs, especially if you don’t already have an internet connection or a smart TV.
In addition to these one-off set up costs, paying for streaming platform subscriptions can quickly add up, especially if you need to buy multiple subscriptions to get access to all the content you like to watch.
In some cases, it can actually work out more expensive than paying for cable TV, so be sure to check the numbers before cutting the cord.
Is Cord Cutting Always a Good Idea?
For most Americans, cord-cutting can be an excellent way to save money without having to compromise the quality and variety of digital content to which you have access.
However, in some cases, you may not be able to access certain types of content anywhere other than cable TV, or it might work out more expensive.
This is usually only the case for watching live sports, though more and more video streaming platforms are purchasing the rights to broadcast live sports, and their offerings should become more comprehensive over time.
Amazon Prime Video is the best example of such a platform broadcasting live sports as well as, offering replays on-demand for people who missed the live broadcast.
Best Streaming Platforms
Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of cord-cutting let’s explore some of the best and most popular video streaming platforms available in the US.
Netflix remains the most popular video streaming platform in the world. It has tiered subscription packages, with the more expensive packages allowing more people to stream content on different devices simultaneously, plus a few other minor benefits.
The least expensive subscription is the Basic plan, which costs $8.99 per month and only allows one device to stream content at a time. The Standard and Premium plans cost $12.99 and $15.99 per month, and they allow two or four simultaneous streams, respectively.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is growing in popularity, especially in the US, with Amazon investing in producing original series and purchasing the rights to popular shows and movies produced by third parties.
You can purchase an Amazon Prime membership for $12.99 a month or $119 a year (which works out at $9.17 per month.) However, keep in mind that these prices are for a full Amazon Prime membership, with other perks, such as next day delivery.
If you just want an Amazon Prime Video membership, you’ll only need to pay $8.99 per month, and you can cancel anytime.
Owned by the Walt Disney Company, Hulu is another popular digital content streaming platform that has an impressive bank of on-demand digital content for you to consume.
Hulu has a few different plans, with the lowest cost plan being its Basic subscription. This costs just $5.99 per month, making it one of the most inexpensive options on the market.
However, you’ll have to put up with a few ads when using this platform unless you upgrade to a Premium subscription, which costs $11.99 per month.
Cord-cutting is becoming increasingly popular, and for most Americans, it can be a great way to save money and still enjoy all the digital content you love. However, it’s not as simple as just canceling your cable TV subscription – and it pays to do your research and be methodical to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the content you enjoy.
Be sure to calculate and consider exactly how much you will need to spend to cut the cord successfully, both in terms of set up costs, such as an aerial installation and buying a smart TV, and ongoing subscription fees.
A Quick Summary
- Cord-cutting simply means switching out your high priced cable TV subscription to less expensive digital content sources, such as free to air channels and online video streaming platforms.
- In many cases, cutting the cord allows you to save money while getting access to an even better selection of content, so it can indeed be a win-win. However, certain content types may be exclusive to cable TV, such as some series or live sports broadcasts.
- You’ll typically need a pretty fast internet connection and a smart TV or a laptop and an HDMI cable to cut the cord.
- Although cord-cutting will usually save you money, it can sometimes work out more expensive than just paying for cable TV, so you should do your research before making the switch.
- Some of the best video streaming platforms available in the US are Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.