More and more people are cutting the cable cord and choosing to build a customized viewing experience without the contract commitment. There are many reasons to make the move from big cable in favor of a more a la carte or cable-free lifestyle. Here are a few of the leading reasons for walking away from cable and choosing a cord-free option.
Cord Cutting Saves Money
Can cutting the cable cord save you money? The short answer is yes, it can. Of course, like most things, it is more complicated than that, but this is a number one reason many people move away from cable. I went in depth about my experience on cord-cutting, and it was largely a financial choice, and check out the data we reviewed in a recent article on cable statistics.
On average, big cable companies want to get you into a package like the Xfinity Triple Play, that bundles phone (who has a landline anymore?) with cable and internet. While the promo price is somewhere around $79 – $99, after fees and taxes that price doubles!
Furthermore, that rate usually is only good for one year. If it’s a two-year contract, your rates go even higher in year 2. DirecTV’s cheapest package is promoted as $59 for 12 months. But that is only the first year of a two-year contract and the second year is over $80 a month. In addition, you are paying to rent receivers (an extra one for each additional TV), as well as taxes, over-the-air local sports fees, and a variety of other surcharges that add up.
Many have cable AND some combination of Netflix, Hulu, and/or Amazon. You may find that the latter three carry most of what you want to be watching. Why not drop cable and save some money? If you are worried about internet access, there are plenty of internet-only deals out there to be had.
Then it’s just a matter of finding the streaming services that might have the core cable channels you enjoy. From Sling, FuboTV, and Philo to YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV, you can get anywhere from 50-75 live channels or more for around $20-$55 a month.
Obviously, the price can go up from there with larger packages, add-ons, etc. However, generally, the prices are lower and carry no long-term commitment. There are plenty of ways to watch live TV as well. We’ve done both a quick comparison and side-by-side write-ups in our streaming services reviews to help you compare.
Keeping Up With the Times
Almost every week, we hear of another channel or network branching out and offering its own stand-alone streaming service. As each one of these launches, you’re picking up another monthly fee to get the content you want a la carte. As these channels move away from traditional cable packages, there will be more options to pick and choose and less on the big cable companies’ menus.
Later this year Disney+ will launch, and with it, the majority of the back catalog of the Disney Channel, Marvel and Disney movies, and exclusive new Marvel TV series will be finding a new home on the service.
At this point it is not clear if it will have any partnership with cable companies, but most like will be considered an add-on premium like HBO and Starz. Disney isn’t the first, either, with CBS All Access going strong, more networks are likely to test the waters of this over-the-top (OTT) format soon. On average, premium channels and OTT can add anywhere from $7 – $15 a month each to your cable bill. Most cable alternative services, as well as Hulu and Amazon, have options to bundle these premiums into existing plans, in a way that is more affordable than cable or stand-alone as well.
Lack of Faith in Cable TV
Increasing prices, complicated packages, lack of options, and long-term contract commitments, aren’t the only bad things that come with cable TV. In the last year, cable conglomerates have begun to have lengthy and troublesome disputes with local network providers. In July of this year AT&T and Nextstar, a regional media group that runs select stations across the country, hit an impasse in negotiations. For nearly two months, subscribers of DirecTV and other AT&T products found themselves with blackouts on local broadcasts. As of August 31, a deal has been made. Network affiliates are coming back online, but it contributed to this year having the largest number of network blackouts the cable provider has faced.
Meanwhile, Dish and its streaming branch Sling found themselves with a carrier dispute this summer, leading them to lose 21 regional Fox Sports networks. While the big cable companies struggling to retain local broadcast networks, streaming services are finding more ways to deliver live TV. These blackouts could be the writing on the wall for getting out of cable now.
Channel Selection and Flexibility
With cable companies, you wind up paying a lot for channels you want —and end up with a lot of things you don’t. One of the great benefits of the cable alternative packages is you can shop around for a package that has everything (or almost) that you want, and usually at a more competitive rate.
With a few exceptions, most of the most popular 30 or so cable channels are available through the majority of the streaming options. And the ones that aren’t are often available as add-ons. Even if you have a service that lacks the network for a show you want to watch, you can get a season pass to that show through iTunes or Amazon.
It takes a little research, but once you have a list of shows you watch and the network they’re on, it is pretty easy to figure out the streaming service you need. You could even search for favorite individual series on JustWatch.com (which we cover here), to see what services stream the series.
Mobility and Device Compatibility
Today’s viewers are on the go, and technology lets us sync up to our favorite programs wherever we are. Mobile apps for a variety of streaming services make it easy to watch your favorite shows on-demand on almost any device. While most cable services offer online streaming options and mobile apps, their flexibility on other devices is spotty. Furthermore, you usually have to get a receiver on every TV.
Meanwhile, most streaming services are not just through mobile, but compatible through a wide variety of in-home devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, PlayStation, and more. This allows you to figure out what services work with devices you already have, rather than have another piece of equipment collecting dust—and charging a monthly rental fee.
It is relatively easy with today’s options to cut the cord of the big cable companies and customize your viewing experience. Here at Grounded Reason, we’ve dug a lot into the specifics of different services. If you’re looking for a quick overview of all the options, check out the Ultimate Guide to Cable TV Alternatives. It might take a little digging to find the best option for you, but in the end, the work will be worth it.