With the cost of entertainment steadily rising, more people are looking for ways to get the most for their money. Some people are cutting the cord, or switching from a cable or satellite service to online streaming services. For some it’s a matter of saving money, and for others it’s a matter of getting away from large entertainment providers that only seem to be getting bigger.
The big question in all this is: Is it worth it to cut the cord? Below is an examination of cable and satellite access versus streaming-only.
Pros: You have real-time access to every channel the provider offers, including premiums like HBO and Showtime. In addition to real-time viewing, you also have the option of recording the content on a DVR or watching it On Demand. Many providers also have websites and apps that allow you to view content from your computer, tablet, or smartphone; as well as access to premium apps and sites like HBOGO, MAXGO and Showtime Anytime.
Additionally, many cable and satellite providers offer discounts when you bundle your services, such as a triple play of internet, TV and telephone services. In fact, there are several sites where you can find FiOS promo codes for the triple play bundle, as well as bundles from other providers.
Cable and satellite companies also tend to run specials on premium channels for existing customers, like free HBO for three months.
Cons: Cable and Satellite can both be expensive over time. A lot of companies will offer a discounted rate for new subscribers, and then the rate gets substantially higher once the promotional period ends.
You can negotiate lower prices, and get free promotions, but you have to call in and ask for them.
Some providers require you to sign a contract; and if you cancel the service before the end of the contract you could end up paying early termination fees.
Cable and satellite companies are starting to merge, like the Time Warner/Comcast Merger, which could mean fewer options for consumers.
Cutting the Cord
Pros: Online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus cost an average of $8 per month versus the average of $30 per month that you could spend on a basic cable and satellite package with no premium channels.
Most online streaming services have no contracts, which means you can cancel and restart the services at any time, with no penalty.
Cons: While Hulu Plus does offer television shows the next day, some of the content is locked down for up to three weeks unless you sign in with login information from a cable or satellite provider.
Hulu Plus has a lot of current television episodes, and certain movies, but it does not have a lot of old television episodes. Netflix has a lot of old television episodes, and movies, but not many current episodes. . If you want recent movie releases, you might need to rent them individually, or add a DVD subscription to your Netflix account. And none of the services has access to recent episodes of premium shows, like HBO’s Game of Thrones, or Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. To get a good variety of content, you might need to subscribe to multiple services, which increases the monthly cost. You will also need to find a way to access any premium shows.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is the fact that you need high-speed internet access to make the most of your subscription. If you have to subscribe with a cable provider, you could end up paying much more for your internet than if you had bundled it with your television service.
If you need to have access to recent television episodes and premium content, and you have to use that same service for internet access, you could be better off subscribing to a cable or satellite provider under a discounted plan, and periodically renegotiating the price.
If you don’t need access to recent television episodes or premium content, and you already have a good deal on high-speed internet access, streaming could be the best option for you.