Written by Guest | Last Updated November 1st, 2019Our goal here at BestCompany.com is to provide you with the honest, reliable information you need to find companies you can trust.
Guest Post by Dennis Restauro
The promotional TV and internet bundle price advertised by cable companies always seem enticing. Once you find an internet plan and add a streaming service, the cost comes close to some of those cable bundle promotions. However, once the cable company sends the bill, it’s clear that streaming services are the way to go. Here are five ways TV streaming services will save your money:
No cable box rental fees
One of the highest hidden costs of cable TV is the monthly equipment rental fees. Cable TV companies will charge roughly $10 or more per month for each TV in your home. Those costs add up. A three TV household will wind up paying $350–$400 per year in cable box rental fees.
A streaming device like a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV Stick costs less than $50. The same three TV household can outfit each TV with a streaming device for a one time $150 cost. This family would save thousands of dollars in just a few years.
Most streaming services allow subscribers to watch multiple simultaneous streams. Hulu Live TV allows two concurrent streams, and even allows for unlimited screens for an extra $9.99 per month. YouTube TV, Philo, and Playstation Vue all enable subscribers to watch on three screens simultaneously.
Any of these streaming services will save you a lot of money on cable box rental fees.
No long-term contracts
One thing often overlooked about TV streaming service is one of their best features: they don’t require subscribers to enter into long-term contracts. You pay month to month and quit whenever you want. Cable TV typically requires at least a one year contract when you subscribe to their promotional pricing. To get out of the contract early, customers pay expensive termination fees.
You may be asking, “Why is that such a great feature? It only saves me money if I’m switching providers at will.” And that brings me to my next point.
You can drop and add services at will
Having no long-term contact provides streaming service subscribers the ability to add and cut services whenever they like. Some raise the argument that streaming doesn’t save money because people need to subscribe to 4–5 services. First, that is untrue. Over 100 million people already subscribe to Amazon Prime and/or Netflix. Second, the average cord-cutter subscribes to 3.2 streaming services. When I cut the cord, I already had both Netflix and Amazon Prime. After the addition of Hulu, those three services provided me with more than enough to watch.
Even if you need 4–5 services to access all the shows you want to watch, you don’t have to have those services at the same time. Not having a contract means you can drop Netflix one month and pick up HBO. Binge HBO’s back catalog for a few months, then drop HBO and pick up CBS All Access. The flexibility of being able to juggle services month to month enables you to watch anything your eyes desire and still save money compared to cable.
Furthermore, many live streaming services offer a 1-week trial period, making it possible to do things like stream every game of March Madness for free by dropping and adding different live TV streaming services week to week.
Live streaming services include Cloud DVRs and HD
Most cable providers will find ways to charge you for your DVR or HD service. Typically, the charge comes in the form of an upgraded cable box which tacks on $5–$10 per box for high definition and multi-room DVR. Some providers charge a DVR service fee and HD technology fee that can cost an estimated extra $20 per month. Either way, you will be paying your cable TV provider more for HD and DVR.
HD video is standard on most streaming services. Majority of streaming services stream in 1080p and some even offer 4K video at no extra charge. Most live TV streaming services include a cloud DVR as well. Some services, like Youtube TV, provides subscribers with unlimited storage. In practice, so much streaming content is available on-demand, your DVR gets used much less.
No hidden fees
While cable box rental fees are a significant cause of sticker shock, they aren’t the only hidden fee cable TV subscribers notice when they look at their first bill. Broadcast fees and regional sports network fees can add around $20 per month to your bill. Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now stream local networks for ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS in many markets around the county. They also stream the regional sports network for many markets in the country. Not one of them charges an additional fee for this content.
If a three TV household signs up for a streaming service for $45 per month, when the bill comes they are going to pay $45 plus tax. However, if that family signs up for a $45 cable plan, they are paying $30 for cable boxes, $20 for HD and DVR service, $12 in broadcast fees and $8 in regional sports network fees. That $45 promo price is now well over $100 plus tax. If you think that is bad, wait until the promo price expires.
Dennis Restauro writes about streaming TV, affordable internet access, and cable TV alternatives. He is Editor In Chief for GroundedReason.com.