Millennials are optimistic about improving their financial situation in 2019, and one way to do so is by cutting down on needless expenses, like cable.

The amount of people opting to cancel their cable service continues to rise. With the growing list of streaming services available, the questions we’re asking today is whether you’re really saving money or are you better off sticking with one package from a top cable TV provider?

To give you a sense of how streaming and cable compare in price, here’s a table that includes just a handful of the many streaming services, and a few cable packages.

Service Provider
Introductory Pricing
What’s Included
Additional Bundling Options

Netflix

Single-stream, non-HD Basic plan $7.99
$10.99 per month
Premium plan $13.99 per month.
Viewing profiles in premium plans
No commercials
Ability to watch some shows offline
Subscriptions may be included with new cable tv/internet packages

Hulu

$7.99 a month for basic streaming library
$11.99 for no commercials
$39.99 for Hulu with live TV
6 personal viewing profiles
Live tv option includes on demand channels, local tv, and sports
Cloud DVR and unlimited screens

Amazon Prime Video

$119/year (for Prime services)
$8.99/month for Prime Video only
Ability to watch some shows offline
Select NFL games
Included with Amazon Prime membership

HBO NOW

$14.99/month
Watching shows in VR
No commercials
HBO GO requires a TV subscription

ESPN+ NOW

$4.99/month
Live sports, original programming and on demand content
N/A

DirecTV

$35.99 plus taxes/month
155+ channels
Includes HBO, Starz, Showtime
Internet bundling

DirecTV NOW

$40.00/month
65+ live channels including NBC, HGTV, ESPN
Satellite TV, Local and Nationwide Calling

Xfinity (Comcast)

$49.99/month for first 12 months on 1 year agreement
140+ digital channels (including sports) available on tv and smartphone/tablets through app
Internet bundling

At face value, the cost of a single streaming service like Netflix is much cheaper than traditional cable packages. But depending on your entertainment needs, you may end up paying more than you think.

The hidden costs of streaming

You can’t bundle with other services

While the upfront cost of cable may seem more expensive, it may actually be much cheaper than you think by bundling with other services, like internet or phone.

When you opt for a streaming service instead of cable, you miss out on these potential bundling deals.

The cost of streaming devices

If you want to watch shows and movies on your TV (if it isn’t a smart tv), you’re also going to need to invest in a device that can connect it to the Internet.

These devices, like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku stick can set you back anywhere from forty to a couple of hundred dollars.

Data limits

Streaming HD content uses approximately 1-2GB of data/hour. An internet plan of at least 150GB/month is usually adequate for the average, single viewer. Unlimited plans with decent download and upload speeds tend to be on the pricier side.

You’ll need multiple services for multiple streaming needs

Anyone who wants access to TV and movies, but still wants to stream sports live may have to subscribe to multiple services like ESPN+ and Netflix, which can end up getting pretty pricey.

If you were to sign up for HBO NOW, ESPN+ and Amazon Prime Video, the cost would be around $400 a year compared to a basic cable TV package with HBO at around $430.

Pros and cons of streaming

Pros

  • Each service includes a variety of original programming, movies, and older shows.
  • Sign up and cancel whenever you want. No termination fee. No contracts.
  • Save time by having the convenience to watch what you want when you want it.
  • On-demand service is typically commercial-free.

Cons

  • Content is restricted by region and country. A provider might also not be able to carry content developed by its competitors.
  • The latest releases of popular shows and breaking news tend not to be readily available on video-on-demand platforms.
  • Cable TV offers comparatively more shows than internet streaming services.
  • Cable packages have the entire leading sports channels which most streaming services do not have to offer.

How to save on cable packages

If you are not sold on cord-cutting, there are still ways to cut costs on traditional TV packages:

Do your research and avoid scams

Make sure the prices offered are legitimate and speak to a company representative to verify before signing anything.

Wait until sale season to commit

The best time of the year to save on cable packages is usually around the holidays, Black Friday or big events like back-to-school or the Superbowl.

Bundle

Pair cable TV packages with your Internet and phone plan to save on your monthly bills.

Negotiate

If you already have a cable subscription and you’re thinking of canceling, we definitely recommend that you request to speak to a supervisor, promotions team, or retention team member.  You can most often negotiate a lower price with a contract extension agreement.

If you are a new subscriber, try to match prices with competing companies who offer similar plans.

Trim the streaming services you have

If you have one too many streaming services and are looking to cut down, you could cancel all your accounts, or you could let Trim – a personal finance assistant – do it for you. Trim searches through all of your subscriptions and tells you which ones you may have forgotten about. Trim can also negotiate your bill for you if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making that long, annoying phone call.

Summary

We all are watching a crazy amount right now because there’s just so much great stuff out there.

Streaming is definitely one excellent option of many; it really depends on how long you can or cannot wait, and/or want to spend to watch the next best binge-watching show you hear about.

Read more

  • Cut The Cord Without Getting Bored: Find The Best Streaming Service For You
  • Is Youtube TV The New Best Cable Alternative?