The Rising Costs of Cable Television
Watching television can be a great source of news and entertainment. But the cost of cable TV has gotten out of control. Just like many other services cable television companies like to fee us all to death. Their advertised rates are often misleading. Contractual agreements can lock you into something that is less than desirable for enjoying some downtime in front of the TV.
I subscribed to cable for many years and was hesitant to cut the cord. However, I finally had enough with the last price increase and changes in the channel line up to give internet television a shot. I was surprised by the outcome. Here are five reasons you may want to finally consider cutting the cord.
Because this is about saving money, this had to be the first item on the list and it was for me. I did the price comparison and easily save about $10 per month. I could save another $7 dollars or so with my current choice, but with the savings, I decided to add an additional feature on Netflix. There are many options for cutting the cord. Some of them having even more savings. The choice I made resulted in 10 bucks without losing live channels and major networks.
Where do the savings come from? If your local cable provider is like mine and it most likely is, the savings are in the added fees, surcharges, and taxes that cable companies like to charge. Little by little my cable provider kept adding $2 here $3 there in addition to their yearly increase for service. Want a digital box for HD? That will be three dollars each month for each television.
I tried many different services and ended up going with YouTube TV for many different reasons. I am now paying $10 less per month for television. The price for the package I chose is just one monthly fee and I can cancel it at any time. No contracts or headaches.
You still do need to keep an internet service with ample download speeds, but pretty basic subscriptions will do just fine these days for streaming.
As I mentioned above, I did try a number of different services. All of these had a free trial period, which was typically a week long. Among the list were:
Each of these contained both pro’s and con’s and depending on your area may not be available at all or local channels may vary. Each also had restrictions on the number of people that could stream at the same time. This varied by service, but since no more than two people in my home would be watching at the same time it was not a big deal since most of them allow at least two people to stream at the same time with service around $40 per month.
Let’s first start with my Direct TV Now experience. This service contained most of the major networks like ABC, CBS, NBC etc. They have a tier of different packages available and add-ons that can quickly bring anyone back up to the same price as cable. However, there is no contract so a subscriber could cancel at any time. For 65 channels in my area, it was priced at $40 per month for 65+ channels. Not bad for the price compared to local cable. With local cable, I was getting a little over 100 channels on their basic tier.
First, who needs over 100 channels of television with many of them no one ever watches. In addition, there were so many shopping channels to choose from. 65 plus channels were perfect.
The service was pretty good for the week. However, there were some occasional lag times in streaming even though when testing I was getting close to the 100mbps streaming as my provider advertises. It wasn’t something I couldn’t live with, but the lag was there on occasion.
DirectTV now also had a DVR service with 20 hours of record time included. This was something I never had because the cable company charges an extra fee for this service. For $40 a month plus tax it is included.
Sling TV was good with streaming and had a lot of choices for packages to decrease my television costs. At $20 per month, I could get about 32 channels. However, many of the major networks are not included. Their $40 per month service had about 52 channels with some of the major networks. They also had DVR service, but it was an extra $5 per month.
If you are looking to have some basic television service to turn on the TV once in a while, Sling’s basic package at $20 per month plus tax is a great alternative to an antenna for the price. However, their basic package only allows one device to stream at a time. If you have a house full of kids that may want to watch TV at the same time on different sets, you would need to add on the ability to stream up to five devices.
Hulu’s service was also about $40 per month, which is increasing to $44.99 at the end of February 2019. 60 + channels, stream 2 screens at the same time and 50 hours of DVR included. They do have add-ons like the other services for premium channels and extra DVR space, but once again, these can begin to add up so you are right back at the cable company price.
Hulu’s service wasn’t bad, but it did seem to be a little more limited at this time compared to some of the other providers available. It really depends on what you like to watch. I did get some lag times on occasion, but again nothing I could not live with.
YouTube TV was the choice I finally went with for any length of time. Partly the decision was based on the channels available in my area. But the ultimate decision was not only the channels included. It was also the consistency of the streaming TV without lag issues and the services included for the price. When comparing each service for their trial period YouTube TV did not have as many buffering issues for me as the other services did. This may be the area I am in, but I believe the reliability goes even deeper. DVR recording is also unlimited.
When researching the different options, I came across a theory that YouTube TV seems to be a little more reliable than other services due to the years of them having the infrastructure in place for streaming. YouTube itself has been around for some time and they have had time to make improvements. Not sure if this is the case, but it certainly seems plausible. This is not to say that YouTube TV is perfect. I did encounter a few issues during the trial period with sound and streaming, but it was quickly corrected.
YouTube TV’s customer service at least in my experience is very responsive. I never even had to get on the phone with anyone. It was all done in their streaming app by reporting the issue.
I did have one minor hiccup during a sporting event I really wanted to watch with the sound only coming out of one speaker. It was annoying and I could live with it. However, I just started a new trial on another service for a week at that time and the sound was fine. I canceled it after that week.
I have had YouTube TV now for about 6 months and only encountered a few issues with picture and sound that were corrected in about 24 hours at the most. When I had regular cable, it would go out at least a couple times a month or there would be some type of issue so I can definitely live with YouTube TV.
The great thing about streaming television is that you can also get it on additional devices. With YouTube TV I can watch on my cell phone, the television or a computer. This is nothing new as many local cable providers now offer this as well. However, in the case of my local provider, there were issues at times with their streaming. I have found this to be less of an issue with YouTube TV.
You can also take your streaming service with you if you move. Just get your internet connection at your new location and you can start watching television again. This beats the typical hassle of a technician having to come out with a cable box and get everything connected. Not to mention how they always seem to give a window of time they will arrive to do the work and then never show up on time or at the last minute within their window. No more wasting a day waiting around for someone that may or may not show up.
4. Local Channels
The big decision for my family to move to stream TV was not losing much of what we already had. Although available channels may vary depending on your location, it is very probable that you can get most if not all of your local channels with one of the streaming services available. If not, you probably will not have to wait too long before you can. Streaming TV is here to stay and it will only be expanding.
In my opinion, it won’t be too long before the local cable companies need to do away with their current structure and offer competitive streaming for TV. People are leaving standard cable television in large numbers every day. The technology is advancing quickly to stream faster and with better quality. The last time I spoke with a cable technician that was out to my home he even said within a number of years it will all be moved to internet television. It is only a matter of time.
If you haven’t thought about making the change to streaming TV, now may be the time to do it while there may still be a possible saving. It is not clear yet on how everything is going to turn out. But with more providers entering the market the price may go one of two ways. It will either remain competitive or go up as time goes on. Many of the streaming services have already begun to raise their prices in small increments. For me, it is still a savings at this time. If streaming service gets out of hand in the future, then I may be back to the antenna and my monthly Netflix subscription.
Future Cost Of Streaming Television
Even with an uncertainty in the future cost of streaming TV making the switch now only does it earlier than you will have to at some point in the future. With all of the choices for streaming TV and movies available there is no reason to remain a cable company hostage any longer.
Update 7/8/2020 – Another YouTube TV Price Increase
They have done it once again. If you just read this article and are looking for an affordable alternative to traditional cable television, YouTube TV may no longer be the best choice. The company announced they would be raising their price once again. For new subscribers, the pricing is already in place. Current YouTube customers will also see the updated charge on their next billing cycle. The price is now going from $50 per month to $64.99.
It seems YouTube TV is now playing the same games cable television providers have done for years. Adding more channels and then declaring a price is for the added value. The problem is YouTube TV does not seem to realize a lot of its subscribers left traditional cable for a better price. Now they are close in price comparison to having the traditional cable in many markets.
I can no longer support getting a subscription to YouTube television and plan on switching to another service before the next updated billing price. Sling TV seems to have more local channels since I first subscribed to YouTube TV and I might be going with them as an alternative.
YouTube TV not only fails to realize people subscribe to them for a lower cost compared to traditional cable, but those same subscribers don’t need a big number of channel selections. The price increase does not matter for more channels. Most people don’t watch half of them. You might as well start adding 24-hour shopping channels and charge for this as well.
I could be wrong, but I think YouTube TV is going to lose quite a few subscribers with the latest price increase. It’s still a decent service for working trouble-free, but it’s no longer worth the price. I might as well go back to the cable company mafia and pay their ridiculous price before keeping YouTube TV.