We Asked for Cable Alternatives but Did It Deliver as Expected?

Cord-cutting has become a reality and fewer households have cable than ever. Almost 60% of Americans have ditched cable. However, while we had big dreams for advantages and saving tons of money, the reality has been a little more murky than that. 

I’ll cover the current state of cord-cutting and where we are now. Things are better in some ways, while in other ways it’s looking exactly how it did with large cable companies.

The Good

Usually Cheaper

This largely depends on your TV viewing habits, but if you stream shows exclusively from Netflix or Hulu, then you’re saving a lot of money. Even if you buy two or three services, you’re still spending less money than on a cable package.

If you buy Live TV streaming, then you might be saving money as well. It all depends on which service, but in general, this will also be cheaper than a cable package while still giving you a lot of channels.

No Contracts

Do you remember being locked into cable companies? You would be forced to pay for services for a whole year or longer. You could always break the contract if you were willing to pay the huge fees.

That’s not the case with streaming or live TV. You’re free to come and go as you please. You can try a service for a month or two, see it’s not for you, and close your account. This gives you the freedom to try all the streaming services until you find one you like. Imagine the cost of doing this with different cable companies, it’d be insane.

Your Own Equipment

This is a bit of a double-edged sword, but I think it’s better than the alternative. Cable companies forced you to use their equipment and would often charge you a monthly rate for their box. Streaming lets you use your own device. Whether you want to stream from your phone or tablet, use a smart TV, or a streaming device like Apple TV or Roku, you’re free to use whatever you want.

The bad aspect of this is you’re responsible for buying and upgrading the equipment. However, the freedom is great and you often save money overall.

Ala Carte Channels

People have wanted this for years and it’s finally here. The good of this is that you can handpick some channels instead of paying for a huge bundle of channels you’ll never watch.

Be sure to check the provider’s channel packages to see what channels are available. If you only watch certain shows and channels, then this can save you a lot of money.

The Bad

Not Always Cheaper

Each streaming service is different, so you’ll often need to sign up for multiple services to replicate your current TV habits. While each provider is cheaper than cable on its own, all these services together can cost the same or more than cable. Be sure to really compare all the services you need and see if it’s better to cut the cord or keep it connected.

If you love going through all the channels or simply can’t live without a few channels, then keeping cable might be the best for you.

Price Increases

The worst thing about big cable companies is that they always increase their price. Cord-cutting is supposed to save you money, but guess what? Live TV prices are going up, too. Hulu raised their live TV prices from $45/month to $55/month. While YouTube TV went from $30/month to $50/month in just two years. This is quickly closing the gap in your savings and turning live TV and streaming into the same monster that big cable became.

If there’s one thing you can trust businesses to do, it’s increasing prices. The good news is that these live TV streaming services let you know about the increase before it happens, while cable companies are notorious for doing it without notice.

Bundled Channels

Ala carte channels and small packages are here, but you’ll often find yourself paying for multiple services to get all the channels you want. This is especially true with sports channels (where bundles are very common) and you’ll likely pay cable or cable-like prices to get all the channels you want.

Ala carte channels seemed great, but they are still bundled in a way that forces you to buy multiple services to get everything you want.

Internet Speeds

Live TV requires surprisingly high Internet speeds to effectively run. You need at least 10/mbps for the streaming itself. This assumes that no one else is using the internet and you’re only streaming on one TV. If you want to stream TV on multiple systems and use your other devices at the same time, then you probably need closer to 50/mbps.

Once again, closing the gap on your savings. If you’re planning to transition a whole family to streaming, then you’ll want to consider all aspects of the change to see if you’re really saving money.

No Local Channels

While there are exceptions like Hulu Live and YouTube TV, Live TV won’t always give you access to local channels. This means you won’t get local news, weather, and more. However, there is a simple fix. You can buy an antenna and watch the local channels for free. Yes, it’s a little old school, but it works and antenna are very affordable without any monthly costs.

Streaming Device for Every Room

Once again, buying your own equipment is often better overall, but one of the bad aspects is you need a device for every room. In general, you can choose between smart TVs or streaming devices. While smart TVs seem convenient, I suggest streaming devices.

Streaming devices are usually more affordable and smart TVs usually have terrible interfaces. Plus, they’re easier to upgrade and are often more compatible with live TV services. Many smart TVs, especially older ones, aren’t equipped for YouTube TV and other live TV services.

Conclusion

Streaming and live TV hasn’t been the golden promised land that everyone expected, but cord-cutting is still better if you’re OK with some sacrifice. The point is that there are good and bad aspects to cutting the cord and you have to consider this from all angles.

If you just want a few channels or to stream your favorite shows, then cutting the cord is probably better for your wallet. However, if you love watching a bunch of channels and don’t want to upgrade your Internet and buy your own devices, then traditional cable might be best for you.

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