Can you save money by canceling cable TV and using streaming services? When I started covering cord-cutting in 2014, the answer to this question was easy. If you had access to more than one internet provider to keep your internet access costs low, it was easy to save more than $1000 a year by cutting cable TV. Even if you were forced to use your existing cable provider for internet access, you could still save a good chunk of money in those days.
However, times have changed, and we are seeing continuous increases in what we pay for Hulu Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, YouTube TV, and other live TV streaming services. Furthermore, many cable companies aren’t forcing customers to rent cable boxes anymore, which is a considerable expense for cable TV customers.
To see if we can still save money cutting the cord, let us compare the largest cable company’s TV and internet service, Comcast’s Xfinity, and see how the price compares to some of the most popular live TV streaming services.
- The True Cost of Xfinity TV and Internet
- What Does Internet Only Cost
- Xfinity Vs. Live TV Streaming Service Features
- How To Save The Most With Live TV Streaming Services
The True Cost of Xfinity TV and Internet
Before we look at the costs of TV streaming services, let’s look at the actual cost of Xfinity TV and the Internet. Depending on where you live in the country, the advertised price of Comcast’s Xfinity Fast Internet and Popular TV bundle is between $85 and $90 per month. Admittedly, that’s a pretty sweet deal for 125+ TV channels and 400 Mbps internet. However, as you’ll see, the actual cost you pay every month is going to be significantly higher.
Xfinity Popular TV and Fast Internet
The base price of Xfinity’s middle-tier TV service (called “Popular”) is $70 per month, while Xfinity’s 400 Mbps internet service (Called Xfinity Fast) has a base price of $102. If you bundle them, they will discount your monthly service by $52 for two years. They will also give you a $20 multiple products discount and a $10 discount for paperless billing. If you do the math on that, you come up with the $90 advertised bundle price.
However, my area has a $21.70 broadcast fee and a $12.45 regional sports fee. These fees exist regardless of where you live and vary slightly from region to region. The broadcast fee gets as high as $32.55 per month, while the regional sports fee tops out at $20.80 per month, depending on where you live. Thankfully, Xfinity does allow customers to download the Xfinity Stream app to their Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast devices and watch TV. This provides all the channels in the cable package, DVR functions, and more without renting a single cable box.
How Long Do Discounts Last
Another positive with this plan is it doesn’t force you into a contract, meaning you can cancel without an early termination fee. However, the plan only guarantees the base price for 24 months. Some Xfinity plans have a contract term, but this specific “Popular TV with Fast Internet” does not. Even though you aren’t forced into a contract, Xfinity provides a term promotional discount, a paperless billing discount, and a bundle discount.
The promotional discount subtracts $52 per month from your bill for the first 24 months, then decreases to $27 per month, with the discount disappearing entirely after 36 months. The $20 monthly bundle discount ($10 for internet and $10 for TV) continues as long as you keep the service. You also get a $10 monthly paperless discount if you allow Comcast to auto-bill payments.
The True Cost of The Xfinity Bundle
I tried to make this plan as cheap as possible to give Xfinity a fair assessment. The table below assumes you will use your own cable modem and router with Xfinity, as Xfinity will charge you $15 a month to rent theirs. It also assumes you don’t upgrade your cloud DVR storage. This TV plan comes with 20 hours of storage. You need to add $10 per month for 150 hours of storage and $20 per month to upgrade to 300 hours of storage.
You can see in the table below that your true monthly cost is $124.15 (plus sales tax) per month which is much higher than the advertised price of $90 per month. That price goes up $25 to $149.15 per month in year 3 and then jumps to $176.15 per month in years 4 and beyond, an almost 100% increase over the advertised price.
|Years 1 & 2||Year 3||Year 4+|
|Popular TV Base Price||$70.00||$70.00||$70.00|
|Internet 400 Base Price||$102.00||$102.00||$102.00|
|TOTAL COST PER MONTH*||$124.15||$149.15||$176.15|
What Does Internet Only Cost
Before we compare Xfinity to live streaming services, we need to figure out what internet access costs by itself. All live streaming services require you to have an internet connection. Many cord-cutters will still need Xfinity for internet access since they are the only game in town in a large portion of their service areas. Some will have other options with more competitive pricing, lowering costs for those using TV streaming services. First, look at the cost of Xfinity 400 Mbps “Fast” service.
Xfinity Fast Internet Service
Similar to the TV and Internet bundle, Xfinity gives you a healthy promotional discount in years 1 and 2 that dwindles in year 3, and completely disappears in year 4. The table below shows the numbers. Your Internet access is very affordable in your first two years, pretty reasonable in year 3, and very expensive after that.
|Year 1&2||Year 3||Year 4|
|COST PER MONTH||$35.00||$55.00||$92.00|
The Cost of TV Streaming Vs. Xfinity
When we consider the difference between bundling Xfinity TV with Internet service and subscribing to an Internet-only plan with a separate live TV streaming service, we see in the table below that getting Xfinity Internet service and the separate streaming service will save money.
|Year||Xfinity TV+Internet||Just Xfinity Internet||Money Left For TV Service|
|Years 1 & 2||$124.15||$35.00||$89.15|
Streaming services with channel lineups comparable to Xfinity’s “Popular TV” plan, like DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV, and YouTube TV, all cost less per month than the difference between Xfinity TV+Internet and Xfinity Internet without TV. Here are those services’ current pricing.
- DIRECTV STREAM Entertainment Plan – $79.99 per month
- Hulu Live TV – $76.99 per month
- fubo Pro Plan – $74.99 per month
- YouTube TV – $72.99 per month
All of these streaming services paired with Xfinity Internet save you money over the Xfinity bundle. And yes, the prices of streaming services will increase with inflation, but so will the price of cable TV.
Keep in mind that these numbers are if Xfinity is your only option for internet access. In a sizeable portion of Xfinity’s market. Verizon offers Fios internet plans that don’t expire the promotional price to create this shocking bill. Instead, they offer a price guarantee for a set number of years, but once the time expires, you only get a price increase if the price for new customers is higher than you are currently paying. Right now, you can get a 300 Mbps internet plan for around $50 per month with no surprises. You can check here for availability in your area.
If you have alternatives to Xfinity Internet, like Fios, in your area, this greatly increases your savings opportunities when moving to live TV services, as shown in the table below.
|Year||Xfinity TV+Internet||Fios Internet||Difference|
|Year 1 & 2||$124.15||$50.00||$74.15|
While you break even in years 1 and 2, as $74.15 is around the average price you would pay for a streaming service, savings will really kick in years 3 and take off in year 4. For example, the DIRECTV STREAM Entertainment Plan combined with Fios Internet would cost $125 per month. While you break even the first two years, you are saving $25 per month in year 3, and $50 per month in year 4 and beyond.
Xfinity Vs. Live TV Streaming Service Features
Now that we know TV streaming services are still cheaper than cable TV, we can see how the feature sets of each service compare to Xfinity TV to see if it’s a reasonable replacement for Xfinity TV.
DIRECTV STREAM vs. Xfinity TV
The monthly price of DIRECTV STREAM starts at $79.99 per month, which will save you more money over time than if you kept Xfinity TV. If you had to keep Xfinity Internet, you would save roughly $10 per month in years 1 and 2, $15 per month in year 3, and then $5 per month after that. However, suppose you have an affordable internet provider that can keep your internet cost down to around $50.00 per month. In that case, you can save over $50 per month with DIRECTV STREAM around the time your Xfinity promotional prices would have expired.
The channel offerings of both services are very similar. However, one significant difference is Comcast provides your regional sports networks (RSNs) in its “Popular TV” plan. To get your RSN with DIRECT STREAM, you need to upgrade the DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” plan for $108.99 per month. But if you do that, you will need an affordable internet provider like Fios to save any money. And even then, you must wait until year 4 for the savings to kick in. That said, there are a few reasons to go with DIRECTV STREAM.
You can check out my review of DIRECTV STREAM here.
Reasons to Choose DIRECTV STREAM
- Cloud DVR – DIRECTV STREAM provides Unlimited cloud DVR storage. Xfinity Stream’s cloud DVR only comes with 20 hours. If you want more storage, you have to pay an extra $10 per month for 150 hours and an extra $20 per month for 300 hours.
- Unlimited Streams – DIRECTV STREAM allows you to stream to unlimited devices simultaneously inside the home and up to 3 outside the home. Xfinity Stream allows you to stream on 5 devices simultaneously in the home and 3 outside.
Reasons To Pick Xfinity TV
- Lack of Internet Options – You can’t realize enough savings with DIRECTV STREAM if you can’t find more affordable internet access than Xfinity offers.
Hulu Live TV Vs. Xfinity TV
Hulu Live TV starts at $$$ per month, so it’s going to save you money even if you keep Xfinity Internet. Of course, the cheaper the ISP you can find, the more you will save. However, regardless of the savings, I think Hulu’s on-demand features are a good reason to choose Hulu Live TV over Xfinity TV.
You can check out my review of Hulu+Live TV here.
Reasons To Pick Hulu Live TV
- On-Demand – That $$$ per month price provides you with Hulu’s vast on-demand libraries of Network shows and Hulu originals. It also provides you with a subscription to Disney+ and ESPN+. This reason alone is enough for me to choose Hulu Live TV.
- Cloud DVR – Hulu provides Unlimited cloud DVR storage. Xfinity Stream’s cloud DVR only comes with 20 hours. If you want more storage, you have to pay an extra $10 per month for 150 hours and an extra $20 per month for 300 hours.
Reasons To Pick Xfinity TV
- More Streams – Xfinity Stream allows you to stream on 5 devices at once in the home, and 3 outside. Hulu Live TV only allows 2 streams at once. Hulu will allow you to upgrade to unlimited screens at an additional cost of $14.99 per month.
- Regional Sports – This depends on where you live. Hulu Live TV only carries NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Washington, and SportsNet NY. Xfinity carries all the major regional sports networks.
Below is a brief summary of this comparison. See our full comparison of YouTube TV and Xfinity TV for a more in-depth analysis.
YouTube TV provides similar savings to the other providers, with it costing $72.99 per month. The comparison is similar to Hulu Live TV, but you are trading Hulu’s on-demand for a little extra savings each month.
Reasons to Pick YouTube TV
- Cloud DVR – YouTube TV provides Unlimited cloud DVR storage. Xfinity Stream’s cloud DVR only comes with 20 hours. If you want more storage, you have to pay an extra $10 per month for 150 hours and an extra $20 per month for 300 hours.
Reasons To Pick Xfinity TV
- More Streams – Xfinity Stream allows you to stream on 5 devices at once in the home and 3 outside. YouTube only allows 3 streams at once. YouTube will allow you to upgrade to unlimited screens at an additional cost of $19.99 per month with the YouTube TV 4K upgrade.
- Regional Sports – This depends on where you live. YouTube TV only carries NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Washington, and SportsNet NY. Xfinity carries all the major regional sports networks.
How To Save The Most With Live TV Streaming Services
The way to realize the most savings is to get yourself a TV antenna to watch local broadcast networks. To see if a TV antenna will work for you. Follow these steps:
- Use the digital TV reception page at the FCC (here is the link)
- Type in your zip code, and they will show a list of Networks in your area.
- If the essential TV networks are in Green or Yellow, then pick up one of these flat antennas for around $20. If it doesn’t work, Amazon will let you send it back for a full refund
For a deeper dive, take a look at our guide to watching TV over the air. Now you don’t need to worry about streaming your local channels and subscribe to a more affordable live streaming service to get some other cable TV channels like Philo or Sling TV.
Philo TV only costs $25 per month and offers around 60 channels found on cable. They offer a free trial, and there is no long-term contract. Check out these resources on Philo for more information on their service:
Sling TV costs $25 per month and offers a more robust channel package than Philo. They also offer a free trial. Check out these resources for more information on Sling TV:
- our comprehensive guide on Sling TV
- Sling offers numerous channel plans, and we dig into them in Sling TV channels explained
With pricing this low, you can save a decent amount of money even with Xfinity Internet. Using a TV antenna, and grabbing a more affordable live TV service is how you save the most money cutting the cord.