Should you really “cut the cord” to save money on TV service?

Should You Really Cut the Cable Cord?
  • Overall, cutting the cable cord can be a great way to save money and get more control over your TV watching experience. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
  • Streaming television programs to dedicated apps on your TV requires the patience of a learning curve from the way we’ve traditionally watched TV.
  • If you’re still not sure whether or not to cut the cable cord, you can try out a few streaming services for free before you commit. Many services offer free trials, so you can test them out and see if they’re right for you.

Updated 4/13/24:

We are truly in the age of overwhelming choice when it comes to TV. There are more shows available to watch than ever before – across more platforms than we can keep count of. As well as cable or satellite TV, there’s a host of streaming services out there like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, (HBO) Max, Paramount+, Peacock and AppleTV+.

Years ago phone/TV/internet providers persuaded people to bundle services together to save money. In recent years the price for TV service has skyrocketed mainly due to rising fees from the content providers, prompting people to consider cancelling or cutting back to save money on TV channels that are mostly unwatched.

With so much choice, deciding which option is best for you can be tricky. Should you ‘cut the cord’ and switch to streaming TV? If so, which service(s) should you subscribe to? Are all of the services that you want available on your Smart TV, or do you need an external streaming device? Is streaming cheaper than cable or satellite TV anyway? Should you UN-bundle to save money?

These might be some of your questions. We’ll aim to answer them below. 

First things first: what is streaming?

Streaming is a form of video sharing that occurs over the internet rather than via your cable box or satellite dish. Streaming offers an advantage over traditional live TV in that you can start or pause shows or movies at any time (on-demand), you’re not forced to watch at specific times. Though that’s handy for watching old shows, live TV is still best for watching real-time news and sports broadcasts. You can stream live TV as well, but that costs a lot more.

Is streaming more cost-effective than cable? 

We all know that cable TV can be expensive. found that the average US cable bill is $217.42 per month or $2,549 annually. 

Given this price, many people think a streaming service will be much cheaper. This is technically true in some cases, as services like Netflix or (HBO) Max cost about $15/month each. 

However, not all streaming platforms come in at this low price. The biggest difference in price is the amount of content available, and if the service includes live TV channels. For example, live TV services YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV start at about $75/month – but they include many live local channels and networks which you can also record to watch at a later time.

Streaming services offering live & local broadcastsStreaming services offering on- demand programmingFAST – Free Ad Supported TV streaming services
$75+/month$5-$15/month eachFREE
DirecTV Stream
Hulu + Live TV
YouTube TV
Amazon Prime Video
Max (Formerly HBO Max)
Apple TV+
Pluto TV
The Roku Channel
Xumo Play
Sling Freestream
Redbox Free Live TV
As of September 2023

If you replace cable/satellite TV with one streaming platform, you will likely save money. However, the average US household subscribes to four streaming services, which can quickly add up to the same price – if not more – than your cable/satellite TV bill. 

Each streaming platform creates its own unique shows, as well as loaning older TV shows for its users to watch. If you only opt for one streaming service, you’ll undoubtedly miss out on some shows you want to watch. 

To that end, we advise you to carefully look at the streaming services out there and compare them with your cable TV programming schedule. If, for example, you’re a big sports fan, cable/satellite TV is the best bet for you. If you don’t care about sports and want access to a lot of TV series on demand, then a streaming service could work well. 

Here’s some resources to see what networks and content are on the different services:

Suppose TV – A tool for searching and comparing video services

The Streamable – Search for movies, TV shows, channels, sports teams, streaming services, apps, and devices.

Reelgood – Streaming content search engine

JustWatch – Find where to stream new, popular & upcoming entertainment 

How to get local programming for free

Reno’s local TV stations can be viewed with no monthly cost via an over-the-air antenna. Also, news and other locally produced programs can be view or each respective station’s website, or on smartphone/tablet/TV apps such as Zeam and NewsON.

Is your internet connection up to snuff for streaming? 

Yes, you still need to pay for a robust, high-speed internet connection to stream videos. Netflix states that the minimum speed you need to stream high definition video is 5 megabits per second – so if you still have DSL internet, you may not be able to stream. The minimum price for high-speed internet that’s compatible for streaming is about $50/month.

If the internet connection into your home is not right next to your TV(s), you’ll need to make sure that your wireless/Wi-Fi connection is up to streaming – otherwise you may see a lot of pauses and buffering when streaming.

If you’re not sure whether your internet service or Wi-Fi connection is suitable for streaming, contact us. We’ll be happy to take a look for you and talk you through your options. 

How to stream – using the right equipment

Most new televisions sold today are “Smart TVs” that can connect to the internet and have apps for the major streaming providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But if a new streaming provider comes along, Smart TVs are typically the last device to be able to add apps to support new services.

If you want the flexibility to add new services as well as more choices, you’ll want to consider getting an external streaming device that connects to your TV’s HDMI port. The most popular devices include Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. Here’s a review of the best streaming devices.

Do you like to record live TV broadcasts with a DVR?

If you’re used to using a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to be able to pause and record live and scheduled broadcasts – that feature only comes on the high-priced services that include live TV (YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV Stream and Sling TV). Most other services only offer on-demand streaming of programs in lieu of a DVR.

Are you prepared to learn how to use streaming?

Another thing to consider with streaming is the hassle and administration that comes with learning how to use a new interface, managing the monthly subscription(s), getting it set up on your TV and finding the right channel each time. 

With cable/satellite TV, things are pretty easy. You just click the remote, and the channels appear. With streaming, though, this isn’t the case. To stream, you may need to switch to a different input source on your TV, find the application that has the program you want to watch, then use the up-down-left-right buttons on the remote to search for what you want to watch. Each streaming service also has its own unique interface that you need to learn how to use. 

Consider UN-bundling your TV service to save money, or cutting back on channels

If your TV/phone/internet bundled bill is too much, un-bundling may save you money. For example, you may be able to save money using a cheaper internet and/or home phone provider than you currently have, then keep your familiar TV service. Otherwise you could cut back to an option where you don’t pay for the cable/satellite provider’s TV boxes, and switch to streaming via an app with a limited choice of channels.

Final thoughts 

Ultimately, whether or not you opt for a streaming service will depend on your unique preferences. 

If a streaming service has a show that you’re desperate to watch, then you should go for it! We’ll be happy to help you set up the service and teach you how to use it, so you can stream with confidence. Hopefully the show will still be available on the same service next month – as contracts with content providers and streaming services are ever-changing. 

Saying this, if you’re only thinking about moving to streaming because everyone else seems to be, then we advise that you don’t bother. Cable/satellite TV still has a lot of great shows that you can watch. 

Plus, despite what people say, streaming isn’t necessarily less expensive than cable – especially as most people will purchase more than one streaming service. 

Get current expert advice on TV and streaming device set up!

If you want support with setting up a new streaming service or are looking for advice on whether you should cut the cord or opt for streaming, reach out to us. Our friendly team are on hand to help. 

Contact us today with any questions at 775-624-6888 or reach out online.