Cut the Cord: Save Money with Cable TV Alternatives

Cut the Cord: Save Money with Cable TV Alternatives

This one goes out to all the TV lovers, movie aficionados, and binge-watchers out there. Cable TV remains a worthwhile option for lots of folks: four out of every five U.S. households still pay for a traditional cable subscription.[1] But if you’re one of them, you may want to consider saving money by cutting that cord. You’ll gain original content that’s only available on certain streaming platforms and lose that giant bill at the end of the month. Want to learn more? Stay tuned.

Antennas & DVRs

Think TV antennas are a thing of the past? Well, here’s something cool—TV antenna technology has actually advanced! HD antennas are the most affordable way to watch live TV.[2] Unlike cable, antennas don’t require contracts, and in many instances they are actually able to provide better picture quality.

Antennas provide all the over-the-air local channels and range in price from $25 to $80.[3] That’s a one-time cost! If you couple an antenna with a streaming service, you can have the best of both worlds: local sports plus all your favorite shows and movies. Keep in mind, the number of channels you’ll receive with an antenna really depends on where you live. If you’re in a rural area, we’ll have better options for you later on in this post.

However, if you want to take the HD antenna a step further, you could also look into digital receiver DVRs. These devices provide access to over-the-air stations, premium movie channels, and pay-per-view events. Oh, and they also enable you to record hours of high-definition content. These units are going to be a bit pricier (between roughly $170 and $400), depending on how much storage space you’re looking for.

Top Services

Not every company in the world has launched a streaming service, but sometimes it can certainly seem that way. It can also seem a little overwhelming. Who offers the best value? Which original content do I care about? If I’m paying for five streaming subscriptions am I even saving money over cable?

Let’s break it down as simply as possible, and then we’ll give you a quick cost comparison.

Netflix has been #1 in this space for quite some time. Originally, they were an online DVD rental service that completely destroyed competed with Blockbuster. Since then, Netflix has evolved into a digital streaming service and become the leader in original content. This summer, their original show Stranger Things became the most popular digital original series ever produced.[4]

While Netflix started with movies, Hulu set its sights on television series from the very beginning. As a streaming service, Hulu’s number of content partners is expansive. It distributes video from NBC, ABC, Fox, A&E, Bravo, E!, and many more. Hulu does produce original content, but doesn’t have a real smash hit yet. With certain subscription packages, Hulu also offers a commercial-free experience.

Amazon Video or Amazon Prime (as some users refer to it) or Prime Video (as almost nobody refers to it except for Amazon) is Amazon.com’s streaming service. The best part about Amazon Video has to be the content quality. The service always has the latest titles available for purchase, and with a Prime subscription, even the “free” streaming content is new and fresh. Like Hulu, Prime Video doesn’t yet have a major original hit, but if they keep hosting the best titles and the brightest stars, they might not have to.

Sling TV is the latest subscription streamer to throw its hat in the ring. A subsidiary of DISH Network, Sling TV allows for the streaming of major cable channels through a smart TV app. So far, Sling is differentiating itself through its various packages. For example, you can subscribe to their Sports Extra channel and access all the regular cable sports you want; OR you could pay for just their Hollywood Extra package if you love movies; OR you could go for the Sling Orange package if you want a nice mixed bag of old standbys like HGTV, TBS, Food Network, and Comedy Central.

But let’s move on from features and check out the costs. After all, cutting the cord is meant to save money, not spend more of it.

Quick Cost Comparison

What’s the bottom line? Does cutting the cable cord save money? Well, the truth is, yes, it can—but not if you’re going to subscribe to five new services to take its place. So you want to check out what each major service is offering, consider what you want (or at least what you can live without), and make the best possible decision for you and your family.

HD Antenna$25-$80
Digital Receiver DVR$170-$400
NetflixFrom $7.99 per month
HuluFrom $7.99 per month
Amazon VideoFrom $8.99 per month
Sling TV$20 a month
Traditional Cable TV$99 a month*

*This is a 2015 average for cable and satellite service in the United States. The $99 average represents an 8 percent increase every year since 2010.[5]

The opportunity is there to save a lot of money! Explore your options and, when you feel ready, cut the cord!

References:

  1. Pressman, A. “More Than One in Five Households Has Dumped the Cable Goliath” Fortune. Retrieved September 19, 2016 from http://fortune.com/2016/04/05/household-cable-cord-cutters/
  2. Honorof, M., Scharr, J. “Your Guide to Cable TV Cord-Cutting.” TomsGuide.com. Retrieved September 19, 2016 from http://www.tomsguide.com/us/cord-cutting-guide,news-17928.html
  3. “TV Antenna Basics”. BestBuy.com. Retrieved September 19, 2016 from http://www.bestbuy.com/site/tv-video-accessories/tv-antennas/abcat0107004.c?id=abcat0107004
  4. Keating, L. “Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ Becomes Most Popular Digital Original Series: Here’s Why Viewers Are Hooked” Retrieved September 20, 2016 from http://www.techtimes.com/articles/171317/20160725/netflix-s-stranger-things-becomes-popular-digital-original-series-here.htm
  5. Breen, M. “Cable and Satellite TV Costs Will Climb Again in 2016” Retrieved September 19, 2016 from http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/cable-satellite-tv-costs-will-climb-again-2016-n484531

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