Fed up with high cable bills, people are shifting to streaming services. But with more and more options out there, some are experience streaming overload.
So what should you consider before cutting the cord?
Dan Rayburn, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan considers himself one of the foremost authorities on streaming media. He says the first thing you have to consider when deciding between cable and streaming is figure out what type of content you like.
“Is it long form? Is a short form? Is it on demand? Is it live sports, documentaries, original content, news?” he said. “Figure out the type of content that you can’t live without.”
Second, he says you have to figure out how much you are willing to pay for these different services combined. Third, figure out which services you might get for free as part of a bundle.
“For instance, I bought a new LG TV. Last Thanksgiving, when I bought it, there is a deal where it got Disney+ free for a year,” he said. “In many cases, you can get some of these streaming services for free for services you’re already buying from your wireless carrier.”
Rayburn warns when cutting the cord, or getting rid of cable, consider the inevitable price increase. Base packages for streaming services like YouTubeTV, Hulu-plus Live Tv and Fubo TV have all gone up from $20 when they first came out to $65 and up per month.
“And the reason for that is, they don’t own the content,” he said. “They have to go out and license the content from the content owners and the content owners have raised the rates so much.”
Also, there might be some blackout restrictions on your local sports teams and there may also be limitations on how many people can be watching at one time.
“If you want to have three, four or five people in the house watching that stream at the same time, many of them have a limitation to just two or three,” he said. “That’s different than cable.”
You also need to know, if you bundle your cable with internet, the moment you cut the cable from the bundle, the cost of your internet service will go up.
“So even if you save money on TV, the ISP internet service provider knows that you still need your connection to the internet, so the price typically goes up for that,” Rayburn said. “Each company is taking a bit of a different approach here. But from a consumer standpoint, it can be confusing to know what content is available on what device, at what time, at what price point is it free. Is it ad-supported? Is it a subscription? Is there a monthly price? Is it a yearly price? It varies.”
Some people are choosing to go old school by going back to an antenna to get a free over-the-air signal.
“Depending on where you live just determines which channels you can actually get over the air,” Rayburn said. “You can’t get everything, even if you’re in a major metropolitan city. So there’s definitely some limitations there. It’s not a one size fits all model. It’s a matter of figuring out your budget, the content you and your family likes, and then what makes the most sense in terms of how you want to consume it.”
Bottom line, it’s going to be expensive to watch TV going forward. Whether it’s cable or streaming, it’s all about the experience you want to have.
Rayburn believes the average U.S. household is going to have somewhere between four and six streaming services, which includes music services, like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music by the end of next year.