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Does Cutting the Cord Make Sense Financially?

Learn how much it will cost to subscribe to any combination of video streaming services to determine if you can save money by cutting the cord.

Video Streaming Apps on Roku TV home screen

We were all told that “cutting the cable cord” would be a wise, long-term move for consumers. It would save us a lot of money and give us access to more content. 

TV Streaming 

There is no doubt that TV streaming has given us access to a lot more content. In fact, there is so much content to watch who really has the time to watch it all? 

As a result, some really good streaming series are often put on the chopping block, or move from one service to another after only one or two seasons, because the services are trying to pull from the same audience pool.

However, that isn’t all. Within the last couple of years, the number of streaming services has been multiplying like rabbits. Where Netflix and Amazon Prime were once the major sources of library and original streaming content, now just about every studio has jumped in with their own streaming service. 

Video Streaming Services 2021

Here are some examples that are available in addition to Netflix and Amazon Prime:

Disney+ – If you want to watch anything Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic or Star Wars, you have to subscribe to Disney+.

DirecTV Stream — Bundles standard and premium cable channels along with the most regional live sports and cloud DVR.

EPIX Now – MGM movies, original series and documentaries

Hulu If you want to watch movies or shows from 20th Century Fox then Hulu is your destination.

fuboTV — Live sports and TV without cable. Cloud DVR included.

HBO Max – HBO Max provides HBO, Warner Bros, and DC content. 

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Paramount+ – All things CBS and Star Trek, plus live local TV and NFL games

Discovery+ – Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, A&E, and about 20 more nacable channels

Showtime – Movies, original series, and live sports

Peacock Peacock gives you content from Universal Studios and NBC

Philo – Live streaming cable channels and on-demand movies and show with unlimited DVR

Apple TV+ Apple TV+ provides its own exclusive content but has also secured sole rights to the celebrated former Peanuts TV specials and movies as well as rights to produce and show more. 

Sling TV – Stream live TV, sports and a la carte cable channels (packages)

Starz – Hit movies and original series

Sony is the only major movie studio that doesn’t have its own subscription streaming service other than its exclusive Bravia Core service available only to select Bravia TV owners. Instead, Sony has opted to spread its content between Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.  

This fragmentation also makes it hard for viewers to find content, as many of us don’t associate specific content titles with specific studios. As a result, you can end up spending more time trying to find what service has your favorite show or movie than actually watching it. 

However, one glimmer of hope is that services such as Reelgood offer a search tool that usually tells you if a show or movie is available on streaming and what streaming service(s) have it. Reelgood is free to use. 

Music Streaming 

Music Streaming Services 2021

In addition to TV and movie content, music streaming services offer a huge amount of content. However, just as with video streaming services, not every service provides all the music you might want to listen to. 

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For example, Spotify has a lot of popular music, but it doesn’t have all of the jazz and classical music that some listeners might be looking for. Also, services such as TIDAL and Qobuz provide better quality with some content offered in Hi-res audio formats, which isn’t necessarily available in some other music streaming services.

More Services Means Higher Cost

What all this means is that to access your favorite content, you usually have to subscribe to more than one of the growing number of streaming services. Depending on how many services you subscribe to, your monthly streaming bill can be as much or more as your previous cable/satellite bill was.  Things get even worse if one service cancels your favorite show and it gets picked up by another service that you aren’t already subscribing to. 

2021/2022 Video Streaming Services
Pricing and Availability
Monthly PlanAnnual PlanIncludes Ads
Apple TV+$4.99No
Discovery+$4.99Yes
Paramount+ Essential$4.99$49.99Yes
Peacock Premium$4.99$49.99Yes
EPIX Now$5.99$60.00No
Discovery+ (Ad-free)$6.99No
ESPN+$6.99$69.99Some**
Hulu$6.99$69.99Yes
Disney+$7.99$79.99No
Netflix Basic (SD)$9.99No
Showtime$8.99No
Starz$8.99No
Paramount+ Premium$9.99$99.99Some**
Peacock Plus$9.99$99.99No*
Hulu (No ads)$12.99No*
Netflix Standard (HD)$15.49No
HBO Max$14.99$149.99No
Netflix Premium (4K)$19.99No
Philo$25.00+Yes
Sling TV$35.00+Some**
fuboTV$64.99+Some**
YouTubeTV$64.99Some**
DirecTV Stream$69.99+Yes
Hulu + Live TV
with Disney+ and ESPN+ 
$69.99Yes
Hulu (No ads) + Live TV
with Disney+ and ESPN+ 
$75.99No*

*Due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming will still contain ads
** Live TV will contain ads

Carriage Disputes

Cable TV Alternatives

Another sign that streaming isn’t as dependable as you might think is the recent disputes between Google and Roku over YouTube/YouTube TV access and the brief removal and quick return of Disney-owned channels on YouTube TV.

As much as we depend on streaming, you have to remember that what you can access is all about the money and who controls the content. 

One thing that is getting more important is streaming “carriage deals”. This is where streaming services that offer cable channels over the internet (such as YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Sling TV) carry channels offered by a content provider (such as Disney or a TV network) for a negotiated time frame and price. 

At the end of the carriage time frame, the deal is either extended, re-negotiated, or canceled. The terms of the negotiation are dependent on how valuable the streaming service thinks the content provider’s channels are to maintain (and hopefully increase) the number of subscribers to their service. 

As the recent disputes between Google and Roku and Google and Disney prove, streaming is not as dependable as you might think.

Nobody wants to wake up and find out that their favorite series that they have been binging or channel they like is suddenly no longer available due to a contract dispute.

What Consumers Really Want 

All consumers want is access to content. If streaming can’t deliver the content we want at the price we want, cable/satellite and physical media are still around. 

However, cable and satellite also experience periodic contract disputes that may result in the removal of channels and content. If you have ever received a notice that a favorite local TV channel might be removed from your cable/satellite service, only to be returned at some point, you know what I am referring to.

Don’t Forget About Physical Media

Sony UHD Disc Player

There is no way you can afford to purchase all your favorite content on physical media, but despite the advent of streaming, it still has a valuable role to play. 

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The thing to remember is that it’s not guaranteed that your favorite movie or show will always be available on a streaming service. Most streaming services cycle content in and out on monthly basis. 

Also, if you buy a digital version of a movie, it may not remain accessible after a period of time, despite assurances by the streaming service you “purchased” it from. Unlike physical media, a streaming or digital version can be altered, censored, or removed for a variety of reasons including the changing winds of political or cultural standards. 

However, if you buy something on physical media you own it – and as long as you have a device that can play it on you can enjoy it. 

What is interesting is that a growing number of music fans are seeing the value of preserving physical media as sales of vinyl records continue to climb after its supposed “death” about 40 years ago with the advent of CD, but even cassettes and CDs are beginning to show a slight uptick although vinyl is currently still outselling them.

Regardless of how much you depend on streaming for your entertainment (after all streaming is very convenient), if you want continued access to that special movie, TV show, or music album, don’t toss out those discs and records quite yet. Also, if there is a movie or TV series that you are a real fan of and it is, or becomes available on physical media, consider purchasing it. 

Related links:

Podcast: VOD and the Future of Movies Post-COVID

Buying Guide for the Best CD Players

Best TVs to Buy Right Now

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Ric

    December 22, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    This article is written by an amateur that feels viewers need to pay for TV that is available for free. 90% of America can receive TV for free, with an antenna. Sony DOES have a service and you can download Sony Crackle on your smartphone. It is a FAST free ad supported TV app. There are so many FAST linear multi channel apps, I’ sure I will miss some here. Pluto TV, XUMO, Stirr, Redbox and the Roku channel come to mind. NewsON for local news. The CW app airs their shows the following day, for free. Tubi has more movies and shows than Netflix, for free. One can watch NFL games and the Super Bowl using the Yahoo Sports app on their smartphone, for free. The Canela TV app has 2 live BeIN Sports and Combate, A fight network, all live and for free. Search your address on AntennaWeb to see what you can receive over the air OTA with a an appropriate antenna, for free. I could go on and on, but I don;t have the time. Everything I typed her is legally fre .

  2. Ric

    December 22, 2021 at 9:22 pm

  3. Ric

    December 22, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    Ian, I noticed that eCoustics reviews MonoPrice a local company but not Dayton Audio which is a similar quality in budget home audio:

    https://www.daytonaudio.com/

    https://www.parts-express.com/brand/Dayton-Audio

    Also, I see no articles on furniture attached bass shakers:

    https://www.parts-express.com/Dayton-Audio-BST-1-High-Power-Pro-Tactile-Bass-Shaker-50-Watts-295-244

    • Ian White

      December 22, 2021 at 10:34 pm

      Ric,

      We can only review so many things in one calendar year; and we reviewed a lot this year. We’re about to hit 1,000 articles for 2021 which is 2nd to only WhatHiFi with 3-4x the number of writers.

      I think Dayton Audio is something we can do in 2022.

      Best,

      Ian White

  4. Donna Ingersoll

    April 30, 2022 at 5:30 am

    I turned off all pay services except for Philo, which gives me a lot of “basic cable” stations and I get that for $10 a month with T-mobile. I stuck up an antenna for local programming and I have amazon prime for the shipping, but gives me the streaming service too. I hardly use it.

    I mostly watch the free content on The Roku Channel. You can’t watch it all in your lifetime anyway. I don’t mind the ads. Let the advertisors overpay the studios.

    I’m at that age where I fall asleep while watching TV anyway. I’m not paying every studio 5-15 bucks a month for content.

    • Ian White

      April 30, 2022 at 10:33 pm

      I agree.

      I’m getting tired of the crap on Netflix and my 3,700 movies are giving me dirty looks.

      Ian

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