Streaming TV Now Costs More, Offers Less

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Sad man watching TV
Nicoleta Ionescu /

Dropping cable TV and switching to a streaming service is a great way to save a few bucks. But the savings are a little less compelling than they were a few months ago.

A few streaming services are hiking their prices just in time for the new year. Other services are dropping channels — and at least one is closing down.

AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now) raised its prices by up to 30% in November, and Hulu raised the price of its live TV plan by $10 per month in December. In both cases, it was not the first time that these providers hiked prices in 2019.

In late December, Sling TV started raising the prices of its two main plans. The cost of the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans each are rising from $20 to $30 per month. The cost of subscribing to both plans is rising from $35 to $45 per month.

In an announcement about its price hikes, Sling TV cited rising costs:

“Sling doesn’t own the networks you watch — we have to pay programmers for their channels so that we can provide them to you, and the price of programming has been going up. Unfortunately, we have to share those rising prices with you, so we can continue to provide you with the same great experience you’ve come to expect from Sling.”

The recent price hikes by streaming TV services are part of an ongoing trend. For example, Netflix increased its prices earlier in 2019, and DirecTV Now and Sling TV were among the services that raised prices in 2018 as well.

Price hikes aren’t the only bad news to emerge from streaming circles, according to Consumer Reports (CR). Some services are curbing their offerings — and at least one is shutting down altogether. They include:

  • Sony PlayStation Vue: Ceasing operations on Jan. 30. Sony says it’s shuttering PlayStation Vue because of the rising cost of licensing content and growing competition among streaming services, CR reports.
  • FuboTV: Dropped several channels on Jan. 1, including FX, National Geographic and Fox regional sports networks.
  • AT&T TV Now: Dropping NFL Network. New plans also drop A&E, AMC and Discovery. CR also reports that rumors suggest this service could shut down soon.

Finding the right TV service

The new price hikes and service cuts are reminders that streaming services are not some type of TV entertainment Shangri-La. As with any other product, you must comparison shop — and keep on your toes even after you’ve settled on a service.

We have made that point before:

“With prices in flux and providers increasingly trying to emulate their opponents … it can be deceptively difficult to figure out whether switching to streaming TV services or sticking with traditional paid-TV providers would be cheaper for you.”

For more tips on how to discern whether streaming is the right option for you, check out “Streaming Versus Cable: the Confusing Costs of Cutting the Cord.”

If streaming does indeed appear to make sense for you, shop around for the best deal. A great place to start your journey is by reading “4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less.”

Have you switched to streaming? Share the highs and lows of your experience in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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