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  • Writer's pictureAlison Menard

Will Soaring Streaming Costs Drive a Return to Cable TV?



When I settled into my first apartment about 5 years ago, the decision to skip cable in favor of internet services, Netflix, and Hulu was a no-brainer. Comparing the expenses, cable seemed like an unnecessary luxury. The result? A substantial yearly saving that allowed me to redirect funds toward expenses that truly mattered.

 

Choosing to bypass cable in favor of internet services and streaming platforms wasn’t solely a financial decision for me. Gone are the days of anxiously waiting for my favorite show to air on TV. With streaming, I can dive into my preferred content without the constraints of a fixed broadcasting schedule. The freedom to watch in my own time, without advertising, has become an invaluable aspect of my entertainment routine.

 

Gradually, my streaming catalog grew as I welcomed more services into the mix. Sharing the costs with my fiancé seemed like a logical step, providing access to a broader range of content. However, this expansion wasn’t without its challenges. As the streaming scene expands, costs rise, and advertising sneaks back in, a question arises: 

 

Is the allure of cable TV making a comeback?

 

Before diving into the labyrinth of subscription plans, let’s explore the pros and cons of using streaming services. One of the undeniable advantages is the vast array of exclusive movies and TV shows that streaming services offer. Securing access to all desired shows may require subscribing to multiple streaming services, and the monthly cost, particularly without ads, can accumulate significantly. Opting for ads to appear while watching your favorite shows can be a savvy financial move while enjoying the convenience of binge-watching.

 

The binge-watching joy comes at the cost of delayed releases. For instance, many streaming platforms typically release just one season at a time after it has already aired on television for a certain duration, potentially exposing viewers to spoilers.

 

The absence of cable also introduces challenges for avid sports fans who may need to navigate additional fees to access live events within streaming services. Sometimes these costs can be quite egregious and require a subscription to a platform to which you do not yet subscribe.

 

Now, let’s examine the expenses associated with streaming services versus traditional cable.

 

  • Amazon Prime: Without ads, $15/Month, or $139/Year for both the shopping and video streaming services. If you want only video streaming services, the price is reduced to $9/Month with ads. If you only want the video streaming services without ads, the cost is $12/Month.

  • Apple TV: $9.99/Month or $99/Year. You can also choose to sign up for Apple One which includes Apple TV, Apple Music, Apple News Plus, Apple Arcade, and 2TB of cloud storage for $20/Month.

  • Disney+: With ads, $8/Month. Without Ads, $14/Month, or $140/Year. Disney+ also offers four other bundle plans that can help save you money. The Duo Basic plan includes Disney+ and Hulu and is $10/Month with ads. The Duo Premium plan includes Disney+ and Hulu and is $20/Month without ads. The Trio Basic plan includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN and is $15/Month with ads. The Trio Premium plan includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN and is $25/Month without ads.

  • Hulu: With ads, $8/Month. Without ads, $15/Month. Hulu also offers plans that bundle Live TV, Disney+, and ESPN. Hulu (with ads), Live TV, Disney+ (with ads), and ESPN (with ads) is $76.99/Month. Hulu (no ads), Live TV, Disney+ (no ads), and ESPN (with ads) is $89.99/month. Hulu (with ads), Live TV, Disney+ (no ads), and ESPN (with ads) is $81.99. The last option Hulu offers is Live TV on its own for $75.99/Month, but you do not get access to the streaming library or access to Disney+ or ESPN.

  • Max: With ads, $9.99/Month or $99.99/Year also includes using two devices at one time. Without ads, $15.99/Month also includes using two devices at one time and 30 downloads to watch on the go. The Premium Ad Free plan is $19.99/Month and includes using four devices at one time and 100 downloads for watching on the go.

  • Netflix: The Standard Plan with ads is $6.99/Month and you can watch up to two screens at a time. The Standard Plan without ads is $15.49/Month and you can watch up to two screens at a time. The Premium Plan without ads is $22.99/Month and you can watch up to four screens at a time. With every plan Netflix offers, you can choose to add extra people who are not in your household for an extra $7.99/Month/Person.

  • Peacock: The Premium package is $5.99/Month with ads. The Premium Plus package is $11.99/Month without ads. A notable aspect of both packages is their inclusion of live TV as a feature.

  • Paramount+: The Paramount+ Essential package is $5.99/Month with ads. The Paramount+ Showtime package is $11.99/Month without ads.

 

Indeed, processing such a vast labyrinth of information can be quite overwhelming, and you’re not alone in feeling this way. One out of every five adults find the multitude of streaming options overwhelming, especially with the introduction of the new packages that offer ad-free viewing. With that in mind, 77% of US adults aged 18 to 34 prefer streaming platforms over cable TV. However, 86.72% of US households with a $150,000 income are cable TV subscribers.

 

The average cost of cable is $250/Month, and the average cost of internet services is $75/Month. After doing some math (not my favorite thing), if you signed up for all the streaming services mentioned above with ads, assuming your internet bill is $75/Month and assuming you pay roughly $250/month for cable TV, you would save roughly $111.03/month by getting rid of cable.

 

Choosing to pay a higher monthly fee to eliminate advertisements and selectively subscribing to preferred streaming services could still result in cost savings of roughly $68.53/month by getting rid of cable. While enduring advertisements and paying a slightly higher fee for streaming services would be necessary, the overall result would still be cost-saving compared to traditional cable subscriptions.

 

Currently, Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN can be packaged together which can be a saving grace for the avid sports fans I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, there have been rumors that Apple and Paramount are in talks to offer bundled packages. Hulu and Disney are reportedly in discussions to merge into a single application, potentially reducing costs for those who haven’t already bundled their services. I foresee that in the future, this trend will become the new norm, with an increasing number of streaming services opting to provide bundled packages to users.

 

If you’re still seeking ways to save money with streaming services, there are options to access some services for free. For instance, during the holiday season, phone companies often provide complimentary streaming services with the purchase of a new phone. Additionally, at present, having a Target Red Card allows you to enjoy three free months of Apple TV. Yes, while the free service may only be available for a limited period, it provides an opportunity to explore the platform, discover its content, and assess whether it aligns with your preferences before deciding to continue with a subscription.

 

Another advantage of streaming services is the flexibility to cancel at any time. In contrast to cable, which often involves contractual commitments and potential early termination fees, streaming platforms offer users the freedom to end their subscriptions without such constraints.

 

My general rule of thumb is to maintain streaming services and internet fees at a cost below that of traditional cable. If the combined expenses of streaming and internet remain more economical than cable, I opt to stick with streaming. While I may not appreciate advertisements during streaming, I am willing to choose lower-cost plans on certain platforms to sustain overall savings from cutting cable.

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