Cord-cutting will save you money but for many people, that’s only part of the equation. Yes, you want to spend less on cable, but you want to do that without sacrificing too many shows you enjoy watching. So, before you rip the Band-Aid off, look at the facts, and find out exactly what cord-cutting would look like for you.
The cord-cutting decision is a big one. You need to weigh how much you’ll save vs. how much you’ll miss out on. What price do you put on being excluded from conversations about the latest shows and sports on cable? Are we talking about significant savings or significant pain here?
To start, let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out what you’re really paying per month for movies and TV shows.
What are you really paying for your viewing pleasure?
If your family is like 78% of U.S. households, you are spending an average monthly payment of $107 to subscribe to a pay-TV service (either traditional cable television, a satellite service, or a streaming option. That’s a number which has steadily inched up year after year.
When you have a family like mine, you may have also committed to several online streaming services. It’s hard to say no when friends on social media gush about must-see programs like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and The Mandalorian’s baby Yoda on Disney+.
Together an average family entertainment package — cable plus streaming services — can add up to over $140 per month, and that doesn’t include games.
How much are you spending?
And with so many cable options and a new “must-have” streaming service popping up seemingly every day, it’s easy to zoom past the average, if you’re not paying attention. Even if you stick to “the basics,” the amount you can spend can pile up fast.
Entertainment payments per month:
- Cable bill: $107. U.S. average (according to a 2018 study by Leichtman Research Group)
- Netflix for two H.D. streams: $12.99 (assuming you’re not borrowing a friend’s password!)
- Amazon Prime: $12.99 (or a bulk bargain at $119 per year)
- Hulu: $11.99
Pro tip: You can cut and paste this information into a spreadsheet to start your family budget for the new year.
Why not call and cancel cable right now?
Heck, you could save yourself $100 if you just cut the cord right now. But before you spend that money on last-minute holiday gifts, you should find out how much more your cable provider (which is generally also your internet provider) will charge you for broadband once you drop cable. It’s generally at least $10 more a month without a bundle discount but, in some cases, the cost increase to get internet alone can be much higher, so, you have to weigh your actual savings.
Those fancy streaming subscriptions need a high-speed internet connection. Your cable/internet provider knows that and intends to make as much money off you as possible even if you cut the cord — this is especially true if you live in a market with only one provider (that also happens to be the cable company you just jilted).
I live in a rural area with broadband available only via Comcast. So, for us, it’s pay up or get ready to listen to the cows and the crickets. Our introductory rate was about $50 per month, not including setup and fees. Find out if you have a choice. Search for broadband and DSL providers in your zip code. The vast majority will offer service that’s fast enough to stream on multiple devices but be careful to read the fine print as what speeds the company promises to deliver. You will need service that’s 25 to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to stream video well.
Before you cut the cord, do your research! If there’s competition in your area for internet service, try to negotiate a discount. It costs nothing to try, and you could save real money.
Pro tip: Some cable companies will offer you a “skinny” bundle with the major broadcast networks for just a few dollars more than getting internet alone. Ask before you fully cut the cord.
Prioritize your happiness
Cutting the cord almost certainly means losing access to some programming. That makes it a hard decision even when the savings will be significant. It’s important to look at your personal and family viewing habits before you make any decisions.
If you watch a lot of network television and live sports, then keeping cable might make sense for you. Or, if you prefer the content on streaming services, then go in that direction.
Consumers have more choices when it comes to television than ever before. That can be daunting – it’s easy to buy more than you can consume.
The good news is that most streaming services don’t penalize you for joining, watching what you want, and then leaving. Mix and match in order to find the right blend for you. That may mean leaving cable or opting for a smaller package.
Your options are plentiful and the choice is in your hands…though you’ll probably want to talk it through with all the other TV viewers in your home so you don’t accidentally inflict significant pain for relatively insignificant savings.
–By Nic DeSmet