In recent years, millions of Americans have cut the cord and ditched cable in hopes of trimming the monthly cost of their TV viewing habits.
However, it’s now possible that moving from traditional cable TV service to an online streaming alternative could cost you more money.
Consumer Reports recently found that if you combine streaming services to get a selection of content equivalent to what you will find on cable, you’ll pay an average monthly cost of $103 a month.
That’s $1 more than you would pay on average for traditional cable.
Fortunately, there are ways to lower streaming costs. They include:
1. Look at pricing trends
Consumer Reports says streaming services quietly have hiked the cost of their services over the past two years. Increases between 2017 and 2019 include:
Analyzing the above numbers might be helpful in figuring out where costs are likely headed in the future.
2. Consider skipping live TV
If you simply want your TV service to entertain you — and are flexible about what “entertainment” means — consider pairing a service like Netflix or Hulu with free over-the-airwaves channels that you can get through a digital TV antenna.
The cost savings can be dramatic.
For example, Hulu’s live TV plan, called “Hulu + Live TV,” costs $44.99 monthly. But if you can live with restricting yourself to watching Hulu’s vast library of movies and TV shows — which are available through Hulu’s cheapest plan, called “Hulu” — you’ll pay just $5.99 a month for that plan.
Of course, if you can’t live without networks like HGTV or ESPN, this option won’t work for you. But for viewers who are more flexible, it can be a great way to save.
3. Go ‘bare bones’ or free
Believe it or not, there are numerous free movie streaming services that offer movies and other entertainment for free.
Just remember that your content choices often are more restricted on free services than on services for which you pay.
If you still want streaming TV without the big price tag, consider a service like Philo that offers a smattering of live TV options at an affordable price. We highlight such options in “4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $25 a Month — or Less.”
4. Turn to online tools for help
Streaming can be a great way to save. But with so many options now available, it also can be confusing.
So, before you zero in on a choice, find out which streaming services offer your favorite TV shows. Two websites that can help you figure this out are:
Once you have identified the streaming services that offer your favorite fare, choose the one with the lowest price.
5. Forget loyalty
Unlike many cable companies, streaming TV services do not ask you sign a contract. If you don’t like a service, simply cancel and move on. No fuss, no muss and no cable box to return.
So, if a streaming provider suddenly jacks up your fee, vote with your wallet and move to a competitor. You can do it with just a few clicks.
For more help navigating a switch, check out “Streaming Versus Cable: the Confusing Costs of Cutting the Cord.”
How do you save on your TV service? Share your tips in comments below or on our Facebook page.