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Cable vs. Streaming: What Are the Pros and Cons of Cutting the Cord?

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Cable vs. Streaming: What Are the Pros and Cons of Cutting the Cord?

Live streaming is a great alternative to cable television and threatens to replace it. It only requires an internet connection and a smart device such as a connected television or a phone, but no cables, converter boxes or dishes. Viewers all over the world can watch a stream at home or on the go. In order to compete, most cable and satellite services have added free streaming apps to their services. Still, some consumers believe they are better off staying with cable. Here are the pros and cons of cutting the cord with cable.

The Pros of Cutting the Cord

Streaming, which is popular mostly with young people and suits small households, has many advantages for consumers.

• Easy Access

Anyone with access to the internet can view streaming media. There is no need for any cables or gadgets and dishes as is the case for cable television.

• Interactive

Streaming is going interactive to engage consumers and improve their experience. Interactive cases include trivia apps, social media, live commerce, esports and innovators are looking for other ways of transforming the viewers’ digital experience.

• Quality

Unlike traditional television where viewers have to manually switch to high definition (HD), streaming automatically selects resolution based on the available internet resources and the device. This guarantees that all viewers get the best broadcast possible for their circumstances, whether it’s a mobile device or a home theater.

• Cost

Consumers can save a lot of money by choosing an affordable streaming service. A survey by the Leichtman Research Group found that 78% of households surveyed still subscribed to a pay-tv service, paying $107 per month on average. In comparison, the cheapest live TV streaming plans charged the following monthly fees in December 2019: AT&T WatchTV – $15, Philo – $20, Sling TV – $30, YouTube TV – $49.99, Hulu – $54.99 and AT&T TV Now – $65. Consumers can sign up on any of these streaming services and save $50 or more per month.
It is true that streaming will come with internet costs, but then 80% of U.S. households (according to Leichtman Research Group) already have internet services for the home office or for students to research. For many of them, internet costs will not be an added cost.

• No Hidden Costs

Live TV streaming has no equipment charges, no contracts, and no extra fees. What is advertised is what consumers pay. The only additional initial cost is the cost of buying a streaming device. The best and most popular ones are Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra which are affordable on Amazon. With cable TV, equipment, sports and broadcast fees can increase the monthly bill significantly. Also, cable comes with one-year or two-year contracts with heavy early termination fees.

• Content

Consumers generally want to pick and choose networks instead of being forced to pay for what they don’t watch. Unfortunately, cable and streaming services provide many channels to choose from. However, by choosing streaming services carefully, consumers can get most of the channels they want and fewer of the ones they don’t watch, for a lower price.

The Cons of Cutting the Cord

Cutting the cord is not necessarily a good idea for some people where limitations apply. Here is why.

• Cable Bundles


To keep customers happy, some internet service providers add TV, phone and even home security to the package. This is convenient and cheaper for many families.


• Large Households

Cable is convenient for large families with many people watching simultaneously. Cable TV will not buffer or slow down no matter how many televisions are being watched at the same time.

• Cost

Streaming is ideal for small households that don’t watch much TV. If a household wants HBO, NFL, Sunday Ticket, local sports, YouTube TV and national sports, the cost of adding all these to the streaming service quickly goes up. In that case the household is better off with cable TV.

The Verdict

There are many advantages that come with cutting the cord. It is possible to reduce the pay-tv bill by half by switching to streaming if a household sticks to the base plan and avoids premium features and expensive add-ons. This is easiest for households that have prioritized saving money and are willing to give up some channels. The exception is the households that want to watch a variety of premium channels and may benefit from cable television.
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