Approximately zero people enjoy paying their cable bill, and with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime serving up similar or identical content, it's easy to wonder if you'd save a boatload by ditching cable and just going with internet service and one or more of these streaming services. Now there's a way to guesstimate or compare paying for cable TV versus these streaming services, including new ones launching this year, such as HBO streaming and PlayStation Vue.
Cable TV tends to be one of the biggest household expenses, especially if you get any premium channels and/or sports packages. Meanwhile, you can stream TV shows, movies, and original series online for less than $10 a month (Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and Netflix are in this range), and newcomer Sling TV will soon be offering live streaming of sports, lifestyle, and news channels for $20 a month or $240 a year.
Depending on your viewing needs and the cost of internet alone in your area, cutting the cord could definitely make financial sense. For example, cancelling cable often makes sense for people who don't watch sports channels or who watch only a handful of channels; with the new streaming services and enhanced online streaming offerings we have more alternatives. Slate's "Should You Cut the Cord?" calculator compares the cost of your cable plan with TV and internet against the cost of a just internet plan plus streaming services.
Ditching cable won't always save you money. In my case, a loyalty promotion with Verizon FiOS gets me 280+ channels on TV, 50 Mbps internet, and phone service for $89.99 per month (the same package for new customers is now $99.99 per month). By comparison, a year of Netflix, Sling TV, and HBO streaming (included in my plan) woiuld be about $44 a month--but I'd still need to pay for internet service, and that runs $64.99 a month for the same 50/50 Mbps FiOS service, for a grand total of $109 a month for internet plus streaming--about $20 more than the cable package. Sling TV service, just announced at CES this year, also offers just a smidgen of cable channels (12 major channels including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, The Food Network, HGTV, The Travel Channel, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, CNN, ABC Family, and Disney Channel).
PlayStation Vue is more promising, with about 75 cable channels available through Sony PlayStations, but it's predicted to cost $60 a month.
Again, cable TV and internet services--and costs--will vary by area, which is why a calculator comparing the options comes in handy. Stay tuned for a channels comparison!