Ditching cable to stream content continues to become more common. The biggest argument for the swap? Cable costs more. This is true when comparing cable packages, with all the extra channels you need, to a single streaming service. There's a big price difference if you stream only one, but most customers subscribe to more than one.
According to Jonathan Pirc, Founder and Managing Partner of Lab42:
“On average, consumers use between two and three streaming services, and one of them is almost always Netflix."
If this is the case, how do you really know you're getting the best deal leaving cable behind? It may be a tougher decision than you thought. The best way to start the process of deciding whether to switch is to know what you want to watch and where to find it.
If you're streaming, chances are you have at least one of these services.
Most likely due to the fact they made it onto the scene first, 89 percent of streaming video subscribers use Netflix. Multiple plan options provide a lot of flexibility, with a variety of content available. Successful original content, like "Stranger Things," also makes Netflix attractive.
The basic plan, at $8.99, lets you stream on one screen in regular definition. Standard plans cost $12.99 and get you two screens with HD content. The premium plan, perfect for families and priced at $15.99, lets you stream on four screens with HD and 4K availability.
You can still rent physical DVDs or Blu-Rays from Netflix, as well. This is an add-on package that may be worth having if you like watching new releases. They don't always stream or can take a while to appear in your queue. You'll pay $4.99 for one disc at a time, with up to two discs per month, but other options are available at a higher price.
Amazon Prime Video takes the second spot in popularity thanks to original content like "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Homecoming."
There's also the fact that it's free for Prime members. Non-members can access the service for $8.99 a month. In addition to popular movies and TV shows, you can add premium channel content for an extra fee.
As the third-place offering for top streaming services, Hulu made a big impact through its original content with the release of "The Handmaid's Tale."
Providing access to on-demand TV, movies and originals, the basic monthly plan, which includes commercials, is $5.99 a month. Losing the commercials costs $11.99 a month while getting Hulu with Live TV is $44.99. While a bit pricey, Hulu with Live TV includes all major broadcast channels, cable channels and sports networks.
Cable companies are offering streaming services, which may offer a decent selection of channels for an affordable price.
With access to more than 20 live TV channels, Sling TV offers a variety of channel combinations, starting at $25.
You can access the specific channels you want to have, without signing up for cable. Unfortunately, there's no backlog of movies or TV shows.
DirecTV Now connects you to the service without needing a physical satellite hookup. For $40, you can click through 65 live channels, which includes sports networks.
One monthly subscription with YouTube TV gives you six accounts per household for $40 a month. Each account can receive customized notifications about your favorite shows from 60 live networks.
The starter plan on PlayStation Vue is on the more expensive side at $44.99 a month. But you do get access to an extensive list of channels, from local broadcast networks to cable staples like Disney, AMC, HGTV and ESPN.
Although this is a PlayStation service, you can access it through alternative devices like Amazon Fire, Apple TV or personal devices.
Not wanting to miss out as technology changes, channels you once only watched on cable are upgrading their service options. The most prominent example of this is HBOGo. It used its popular show, "Game of Thrones," to push the envelope for streaming live TV.
For $14.99 a month, you can stream shows as they air or watch a backlog of content. You get the full channel without having to add it to a cable package. Other channels like Starz, Showtime and CBS all have streaming options, and the list continues to grow.
These options for streaming services only break the surface. As appealing as their prices are, you may need more than one to see all the content you already have with cable. As a result, it may be easier to keep your cable.
According to USA Today, it costs cable subscribers, on average, $85 a month. Satellite users spend even more. This is expensive, but the cost of cable isn't written in stone. Consider cutting costs here before going solely to streaming services.
There's also your internet connection to consider. All streaming services need a good internet connection to access content. Whether you have to watch online or download content, a slow connection makes streaming a frustrating process. Cable doesn't need the Internet to function at top speed.
There's no easy way to decide how to consume video content. It's a personal decision based on your own needs. What's important to note is the trend.
By 2021, it's estimated that about 200 million U.S. consumers will use a streaming service to access long-form video at least once per month. This staggering number means more options for streaming are on the horizon. If the perfect solution isn't out there for you yet, it may be here sooner than you think.
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