Is Streaming More Expensive Than Cable?

So Much for Saving Money 💸

This week, Apple finally caved and announced a price increase on its Apple TV+ streaming service. The 40% price increase (yes, you read that right) takes the service from the 3-year-running $4.99/month launch price to $6.99 per month. Is it still priced under its competitors? Yes, but it’s still yet another hole punch in our digital wallets.

In this issue:

  • Just how much are we paying for streaming services these days?

  • Have your bucket of streaming services caught up to cable TV prices?

  • Why cord-cutting still has value over traditional cable TV

Is this the streaming golden age…or the apocalypse?

The original promise of cord-cutting has almost ended. Back in the good ‘ol days of *checks notes* 2016, when cord-cutting was just getting off the ground, live TV streaming services like PlayStation Vue were available with entry prices of just $30 for 50+ channels.

Meanwhile, on-demand giant Netflix was still $7.99 for a basic account, and Hulu was actually still free (at least partway into that year; 2016 was the year Hulu began charging a fee).

It’s safe to say, those days are gone. And as we discussed earlier this month, everyone’s paying more for streaming content. But that brings up 3 important questions:

  1. How much are you actually paying for your “bucket ‘o services”?

  2. What’s my cost compared to traditional cable TV?

  3. Is cord-cutting still worth it despite the price increases we’ve seen in recent years?

Your credit card may or may not appreciate the answers, but we recommend you keep reading all the same.

Not the parity we were hoping for

Let’s start with how much you’re paying for content right now. That’s simple back-of-napkin math.

The average household now has 4.7 on-demand streaming services. Let’s say you’re paying for the cheapest possible option for each of the top services by market share. You’re likely signed up for at least two of the following:

  • Netflix ($9.99/month for Basic)

  • Amazon Prime Video ($7.99/month)*

  • HBO Max ($14.99/month)

  • Disney+ ($7.99/month)

  • Hulu ($6.99/month x 70% = $4.89)

*Many of us get Amazon Prime Video included with a Prime account, so the cost is a bit difficult to calculate separately. That said, we’re going with the standard pricing for this analysis.

By our nerdy calculations here, the average household would be paying a minimum of $45.85 per month for on-demand services alone.

In reality, most of you aren’t paying the bare minimum for each of these services. Maybe you have the Standard Netflix service for $15.49/month. That would bump your monthly cost up to $51.35/month.

And maybe you felt Hulu + Live TV was a good deal at $69.99/month because it includes ESPN+, Disney+, live tv channels, and Hulu on-demand, so you have that instead. Now you’re paying around $108/month (a number that excludes Disney+ and Hulu individual pricing).

Wait…didn’t I cut the cord for cost savings?

Is this a reality check? Does it hit too close to home?

If you cut the cord on traditional cable TV, guess what? You’re closing in on those original costs you sought to avoid.

Popular traditional cable TV provider Xfinity, for example, offers a 185-channel package for $59.99/month to some customers. Oh, and it comes with a Peacock subscription included.

Yikes? Yikes. That’s a point of parity none of us who’ve been in this game thought we’d ever see.

Should I just call it quits on cord-cutting, then?

Absolutely not.

While it’s true we’ve reached a price point many of us never thought we’d see with cord-cutting and/or feared would eventually rear its ugly head, there are still several clear benefits to using a streaming model.

  • Cord-cutting is still far more flexible with no annual contracts.

  • You can still cancel your subscription to streaming services without fear of getting hit with cancellation fees.

  • You usually aren’t limited by location regarding the availability of most channels (with the exception of regional sports networks).

  • There are no hidden fees, like having to pay for a cable box.

  • And ultimately, cable TV simply doesn’t carry all of the content you’re going to want to access, especially with the explosion of must-see original programming available only through on-demand streaming services.

Traditional cable TV is still insidious for making it hard to cancel, hiding fees where you least expect them, and doubling or tripling in price as you renew your subscription. These aren’t concerns that come with cord-cutting and, with any luck, they never will be.

Don’t quote us on that, though.

The Watchlist

The exceptionally well-rated Star Trek: Prodigy series returns from hiatus on Paramount+ Thursday, Oct. 27.

Watch nature go wild on Oct. 27 as Netflix’s new docudrama series Earthstorm premieres.

Comedic dysfunction continues on Oct. 30 as Season 2 of the HBO Max show White Lotus premieres.

Prepare to disagree on Oct. 31 at 9 PM EST as The CW offers you its nighttime event, The 13 Scariest Movies of All Time.

Hulu takes on recent Liberty University drama in its documentary, God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty, available Nov. 1.

Ethical hacking has never been more dangerous in Netflix’s new original film, The Takeover, streaming Nov. 1.

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