Cutting the cord. You’ve probably heard that term a lot in recent years, but what does it mean? Well, the term generally refers to a mom letting her grown children go. A figure of speech relating to the actual cutting of the umbilical cord. However, nowadays, cutting the cord is used in reference to one canceling their cable company subscription. This is something which millions of Americans are doing these days, especially with the rising cable box costs and monthly fees.
The Alternatives to Cable Television
The proliferation of streaming services spurred on by digital technology has made it possible for people to pick and choose how they watch television. People no longer have to, nor need to sit down at a specific time to enjoy their favorite show. Of course, the advent of the VCR first changed all that. It was then followed by Tivo, cable & cloud DVRs, and recordable DVDs.
Nowadays, live-streaming services such as Sling TV (whose ad campaign is all about cutting the cord), DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV, YouTube Tv, and PlayStation Vue offer content to anyone who doesn’t want to be tied to a cable subscription. And we can’t forget Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, CBS All Access, and Hulu, the best platforms for binge-watching. Most of these services above can be viewed on/with Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and other streaming devices. If you have a smart TV, you can also access them on their as well.
In the coming months, Disney and Apple will join on the streaming video service bandwagon by launching Disney+ and Apple TV+. Each of these upcoming platforms will include original content like the “Loki” series on Disney+ and “The Morning Show” series on Apple TV+.
While all of the above options seem like a huge win for viewers, but not all are. Yes, the mass amount of content out there is a couch potato’s dream, but it all comes at a cost. The more services you partake in, the higher that cost. Sometimes, it can even be higher than cable!
The Cost of Cutting the Cord
What people are starting to learn is that these streaming services and their additional bundle packages add up. Obviously, if you go with only one or even two services, you’ll be able to beat the price of a cable subscription. However, what a lot of cord-cutters are realizing is that they aren’t getting everything that they really want. They’re still getting lots of extraneous content they could care less about.
A person can’t get every show from any one outlet. Different providers have deals with different companies. While all of the content providers offer enticing bundles that could up the ante for each individual’s wants, none of them offer a true a la carte option. You just can’t pick and choose which shows you want to pay for. You have to settle for a bundle or several bundles in order to get nearly everything you want. It’s essential to be extra careful because piling on all of these additional bundles can raise your overall cost to the average $102 cable subscription bill. This defeats the purpose of cutting the cord.
Cut The Cord With These Streaming Services
Now that you’re aware of what cutting the cord is and how great or not-so-great it can be, here are some of the top cable television alternatives out there (along with what they offer and how much they cost):
The Cost: Starts at $25 per month
Sling lets you stream about 36+ popular cable channels in its orange package for $25 a month. Channels available include ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN3, AMC, CNN, Disney Channel, TNT, Food Network, IFC, A&E, Bravo, TBS, Cartoon Network, BBC America, and more. You can watch them on your television, phone, tablet, or computer. Plus, it’s possible to upgrade to two higher priced packages with more channels (one costing $25 a month, the other $40).
Otherwise, you can just add extra channels, bundled by genre, for $5 a month to your subscription in a limited a la carte fashion. Local channels such as ABC, NBC, and Fox are only available for free in limited markets (meaning near a big city). You can also add premium channels per each packages, but this all adds up quick. With that being said, the orange Sling package is great for cost-cutting cord cutters.
The Cost: Starts at $35/mo plus taxes for 12 months
DIRECTV NOW is a streaming service app that offers their SELECT package which costs $35 a month. What’s great about this package is that it contains more 155= common cable channels that people want (Bravo, CNN, AMC, CSPAN, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, Lifetime, MTV, TBS, TNT, and more). Premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and ESPN will cost you extra. So, if you’re looking for a streaming service without frills, DIRECTV is a good choice.
The Cost: Starts at $54.99/mo
If it’s sports you’re looking for, then fuboTV will be your choice. Fubo used to be a sports-only streaming service that began by catering to soccer fans. It has expanded to include over 105 channels that are not all sports related. These include FS1, NBA TV, MSG, YES, SNY, NFL Network, beIN sports, along with MSNBC, FOX News, FX, USA, HGTV,, Bravo, A&E, and The Weather Channel. It’s a great service for those afraid of losing their game viewing opportunities if they cut the cord. You can even test it with their 7-day free trial before making the commitment.
The Cost: Starts at $49.99/mo
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to have a PlayStation to watch PlayStation Vue content. The service works on PS3, PS4, Roku, Apple TV, androidtv, Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, laptops, and Chromecast. It offers a wide variety of content similar to the above services, but may charge more money for local channels. This isn’t even including the extra cost for their Sports Pack, HBO, and Showtime. When this is paired with the initial cost of $49.99 a month, it can make the overall cost closer to traditional cable bundle prices.
Hulu With Live TV
The Cost: Starting at $44.99/mo
Hulu beats Netflix and Amazon for its offerings of current television shows. Those who want to keep up with what’s happening now while binging on past seasons of their favorite drama or sitcom come to Hulu for their large selection of network programming. Like the other big guys above, Hulu offers its own original programming like The Handmaid’s Tale, Future Man, Marvel’s Runaways, and Harlots.
With their live TV package, you get access to 60+ on demand channels like CBS, ABC, ESPN/ESPN2.ESPN3/ESPNU, FS1/FS2, FX, USA, and much more. So you don’t miss the game, you can also record up to 50 hours on your cloud dvr. However, just like the other services listed you will have to pay extra for HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax.
The Cost: $8.99-$15.99 a month
Most cord-cutters start with Netflix. This grandpa of streaming services has been around since before streaming even existed. It started with DVD rentals at the end of the last century and adapted to the changing technical times. Netflix offers unlimited streaming of hundreds of thousands of movies and television shows for the whole family. It has been getting rave reviews for its original content like Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Black Mirror, and Glow.
The price for Netflix is incredibly affordable, especially for all that you get. Also, having different profile options and parental controls makes it easy for parents to set up lists of entertainment for each member of their family. Netflix is one of those services that non-cord cutters pay for in addition to their cable bills. However, unlike the other services on this list, you cannot add-on live tv, and premiere channels like HBO.
The Cost: $119 for a Amazon Prime yearly membership or $8.99/mo for video only
Incredibly, so many people have Amazon Prime Video and don’t know it. The company’s streaming service comes free with their Amazon Prime yearly subscription (the one that gets you free 2-day shipping on most of their products). Prime members get access to a library of movies and shows that rival Netflix’s cache. Amazon is wowing critics and fans with its original shows like Man in the High Castle, Jack Ryan, The Boys, Good Omens, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Another Prime perk is that you get access to a large music streaming library and free eBook library.
The Cost: $49.99/mo
Even though YouTube TV is newer than the other video streaming options, it definitely is up for a little competition. With their packages, you get access to 70+ channels including ESPN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and BBC America. You can have a total of 6 accounts in your household, with up to 3 streams going on at the same time. Also, you can DVR record as many shows as you like, which will be stored for 9 months. Plus, you get access to YouTube Originals like Cobra Kai, Weird City, and Origin. The only downfall I saw was that you do have to deal with watching ads.
The Conclusion … For Now
So, there you have it, all of the top options and reasons for cutting the cord. For some, it’s the best thing they’ll ever do. For others, it could be a very big mistake, albeit, one that they can recover from within a month. The best thing that anyone can do is research exactly what they want from a streaming service and what they can/cannot live without. Then, see how much of their wish list they can get with 1 to 3 of these services.
If you can live with that, you’ll probably make out in the long run. However, keep in mind that with every service you get, there are limitations to how and where you can partake. Your location, data plan, and the number of people using these services can limit your enjoyment and add to your stress. This makes cable look all the more like the better choice.
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