Cable companies have dominated the tv airwaves for a long time. With few competitors, big corporations are able to increase prices and charge you money to rent their cable box and equipment.
Recently, however, a new trend has emerged. More families are ditching the cable box to opt for other options like streaming apps and online live tv. With the potential for large savings, many are now feeling more embolden to eliminate tv bills.
If you’re one of the many households asking yourself, “should I get rid of cable tv?,” there are so many options to think about and it’s important understand the differences of the services available.
Here are some things to consider before you make that big step.
Live TV vs On-Demand Streaming
Two main alternatives for cable and satellite tv are live tv and on-demand streaming. There’s a key difference between the two because they provide different types of tv delivery.
On-Demand Streaming allows you to watch programming online as you need to. Popular services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon are one of the more popular household options. The great thing is that you can pick and choose programming as you go and, sometimes, without commercials.
With the ability to watch at any time, consumers can view their favorite movie or show at their convenience. Unless you’re recording your shows, cable shows you what’s on now, which means that you may have missed part of the programming.
On the flip side, live tv can be thought of as a cable alternative. A live set up resembles that same cable channel line up. In fact, you might notice that there’s very little difference between the cable and live tv. And most of these services offer an online DVR that allows you to record your favorite shows for later.
Most live tv alternatives offer local channels. So, if you want to watch your local news or sports, it’s likely the service will have it.
Live TV does run over the internet instead of a direct connection to a cable box. If you have a streaming device or a tv with similar options, you can run live tv. Make sure that your streaming device supports the live tv service. Streaming devices can vary tremendously, so it’s important you pick the right one for you.
On-Demand Streaming Pros and Cons
On-Demand streaming services give you the power to literally turn on what you want to watch without commercial breaks. Just hit the play button on your streaming device and you’re all set.
The ease of on-demand and original programming have launched services like Netflix to household status. Who hasn’t heard of shows like “Stranger Things” or “House of Cards? “ Now there are streaming companies like Disney+ and Amazon coming up with their own originals and special movies.
The amount of content for streaming services like Netflix feels limitless. So, for the consumer, you have a wide array of genres to choose from. As an interesting enhancement, your viewing habits can tell the streaming service what kind of shows or movies you prefer to watch and provide even some accurate suggestions. Cable tv doesn’t do that.
I would like to say there are no cons, however, streaming services can’t be perfect. The major disadvantage is that you can’t watch live television and local news stations.
For people who want to follow their favorite sport or team, you won’t be able to watch your favorite team, unless you sign up for exclusive packages like the NFL Game Pass. The major sport subscription services can be pretty high (see NBA League Pass for $250).
You’re not limited to streaming services. In fact, many cable subscribers have streaming services as an add-on to what they watch.
Live TV Pros and Cons
Want cable tv without the box? Live TV is there for you to stream and watch your favorite cable channels. You can change channels, start viewing live sports or watch a live political debate. It’s all there with Live TV without the physical hardware.
Though some cable companies allow you to stream some of the cable channels away, you can easily do so without restrictions with Live TV service. Take your entire cable line up with you (in a tablet or smartphone) to your hotel. Or, watch your football team live while you wait for your car to be repaired.
What’s also interesting is that you can record your favorite program on a DVR. The DVR is not on a physical box but available on the cloud. You can run and play your recordings as if you would with your cable box.
Like any streaming services, programming can be interrupted. In fact, despite high broadband pipelines, consumers have often complained about the quality of the streaming and interruptions.
Another disadvantage is that some live tv channels do not have local listings or channels to watch their favorite local team. You’ll need to make sure that before you subscribe the channels are available.
Also, your internet speed, before you cut the cord, could be fast and reliable. Depending on your internet subscription, your bandwidth can be congested if you have more devices and items streaming. The same applies to live tv because you’re taking up more bandwidth. If you suffer from internet slowdowns, you may have to upgrade your internet or your internet accessories.
Other Streaming Services
It’s worth noting that companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ aren’t the only players in town. With more individuals looking to offerings other than the mainstream, niche category streaming is becoming even more popular.
For the sports fanatic, the sports subscription is the answer to the all-you-can-eat crowd. Some of the major sports subscriptions are:
One important note about some of the sports subscription packages is that they might not provide local team coverage. This is because of exclusivity contracts with local channels or through major networks. In order to hack around this, consumers have used virtual private networks (VPN) to make it look like they’re out of the local market. VPNs do cost money, though, and you may want to factor in this cost.
Niche and Subculture
The growing anime sub-culture has created a following demanding for more content. Major anime streaming services include Crunchy Roll and Anime Network. They provide tons of content that aren’t normally found through cable and major streaming companies.
For the science-minded audiences, Curiosity Stream is a service that provides documentaries on science and nature shows. You do pay a subscription but the service provides content from well-known documenters and scientists.
How about movies and shows for free? Believe it or not, there are a surprising number of services that provide access to shows and even movies. Most of these services will have commercials, but who would complain when you’re getting this for free?
Free streaming services include:
What’s Right For You?
Live TV and On-demand aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. If you want the best of both worlds, you can have them both. In fact, many cable subscribers do have additional streaming services like Netflix.
However, if you decide to cut the cord, you may need to determine if you’re strictly going on-demand with or living without live tv.
On-demand without Live TV
Do you only watch shows that are on-demand like Netflix? If you’re not a huge sports fan and enjoy mainly on-demand shows, just keep your internet and select your favorite on-demand streaming services. The amount of savings can be huge if you limit yourself to a few streaming services.
Make sure that you have a streaming device like Apple TV or Roku, and you should be all set to go.
On-demand with Live TV
For consumers demanding cable and streaming benefits, live tv, in addition to on-demand streaming, might be a good option. What’s great about live tv is that it’s an alternative to cable tv for local channels and sports. Moreover, you have a wide array of on-demand programming found in services like Netflix and Amazon.
Keep in mind, though, this option will have costs higher than just on-demand coverage. Live TV will require a monthly subscription and your overall bill that might come close to your cable bill.
The Sports Fanatic
Your options depend on a number of things. Do you mainly watch your local team or the entire sports league? How much are you willing to pay?
For the league-wide sports enthusiast, think about the season passes. Most of these services are in the form of a vertical like the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Some of the sports options may be through large sports channels like ESPN or Fox Sports.
However, it’s important to note that the sports passes will cost you since it’s an all-you-can-eat type of package. Make sure that the pass will allow you to watch your home team.
Perhaps cable tv and streaming is not needed. A barebones set up with just a TV antenna could be perfect since you’re not watching tv anyway. Maybe you just need the internet and can watch programming from this medium.
Start by asking yourself if you really need all of cable and streaming. If you’re looking for a great way to pay off your debts or save money, this would be a perfect time.
On a side note, TV antennas used to accessories that often tune out or lose good reception. Today’s antennas are not as bad since broadcast signals are digital. If you’re leery about what seems to be outdated technology, think again. There some pretty good reviews on some amazing antenna products.
What Happens to Your Cable Internet After Cord Cutting?
Most internet services are now provided by a cable company. And as such, major cable companies like Verizon FIOS, Comcast Xfinity, and others are now bundling broadband internet through a package deal.
The bundle allows them to discount their services. If you cut the cord, it’s likely they’ll jack up the prices. In some cases, some consumers have seen their internet bill double.
Decoupling your cable and internet may also have some unintended consequences. For instance, customers have complained that their data usage got capped. Check with your cable company to see what happens when you cut the cable.
For those with separate internet and cable services, no need to worry.
Should I get rid of cable tv? As you can see, there are lots to think about. Consider every detail in moving from cable to live tv. There are plenty of ptions for getting rid of cable tv. Think about what you’ll be missing if you lose out on cable. Manage all the unexpected costs and determine what’s best for you and your family.
It’s also possible that the cost cable can be lower depending on what channels and services you prefer. This is why you need to weigh all the options.