Saturday, August 6, 2022

Can you really save money by streaming?

Years ago, I looked into streaming because I was fascinated by the idea of it. I didn't know about such a thing until I was visiting my son and saw that he was streaming content on a gaming device. I think it was an Xbox. Anyway, I was fascinated. So, I decided to look into it.

One thing I was not going to do was to move to streaming if it cost more to watch TV that way. The idea of paying more for the same thing didn't make sense to me. I didn't know about all the other benefits of streaming, but the deciding factor, if it came down to it, was the bottom line. Would it save me money?

So, here's how I figured out if it would save me money. And this is a good way for you to make the same determination.

What am I paying today? And what am I getting for that?

Depending on what services are available, you have to figure out what you're paying for those services today, and what you'll pay for the services if you switch to streaming. The services I had to consider were TV, Internet service, and home phone.

There could be other services to consider, depending on what your current lineup of services are. For instance, you may have a security system tied in with your setup. Or, you may not have a home phone. Or, your new ISP may offer discounted cellular service (Xfinity does this). So it may come down to:

  • Internet
  • TV
  • Home phone
  • Cell phone
  • Security system

Take out any that don't apply to you, or won't be affected by a change. In my instance, home phone, cell phone, and alarm system were not in the mix. Actually, Internet wasn't either, as at the time, my ISP was not my cable provider, and wasn't immediately after the change. So, all I had to figure was TV. That was simple. You may have to figure all of these, an possibly even more. But do tally up what you pay each month for those services.

What goes up and what goes down?

Sometimes the price of one service changes if it's bundled with another service. For example, if your ISP is also your cable TV provider, you may be getting a discount for having two services. If you drop cable TV, you may lose the discount.

For example, if you're paying $150 for Internet and TV, it may break out into $100 for cable, $70 for Internet, with a $20 bundle discount. In this instance, if you dropped cable, you would subtract $100, but you'd have to add $20 because of losing the discount. That's still a savings, but not as much.

Faster Internet?

Another question you need to consider is if you need faster Internet. My default answer is "probably not."

Many people think you need really fast Internet service to stream. You don't. Now, you do need at least 25 Mbps to stream UHD/4K video, so if your speed is less than that, you may want to bump up to at least 25 Mbps. But do you need 100 Mbps? 200 Mbps? 1 Gbps? No, probably not. If you don't need it today, you won't need it tomorrow. As long as you have enough to stream UHD/4K, you have plenty of speed.

Those numbers, by the way, are for one stream. If you plan on streaming on multiple screens, then you'll want to multiply accordingly.

How do you replace cable TV?

There are a different options you have when it comes to what to replace cable TV. What service should you use to get the channels you want?

One thing to consider is an antenna. If you can put up an antenna, do so. In the long run, it's a cheap way to watch broadcast TV. That's your local network affiliates -- ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC -- plus the other channels that carry content that many households watch -- MeTV, Antenna TV, Court TV, Circle, Laff, Bounce, Grit, Ion, Cozi, True Crime, Get TV, Comet, H&I, and others -- giving you a wide selection of content.

That may be enough. Add to that some free ad-supported television (FAST) services such as Pluto TV, Xumo, Roku Channel, Tubi, and others, you may have enough TV to watch. But, if not, you have lots of options, ranging from Frndly TV at $7/month, Philo at $25/month, Sling TV starting at $35/month, YouTube TV at $65/month, Hulu+Live TV at $70/month.

On demand services such as many of the FAST services listed, plus basic Hulu at $7/month, may be all you need.

What you need depends on you. What I need depends on me. I go for less, using antenna, on-demand, and FAST services to fill my TV needs. But you may need more. So, use a service like Suppose TV to find the services that suit your watching habits.

What about other services?

Another thing to consider are the on-demand subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu (already mentioned), Disney+, Apple TV+, Discovery+, HBO Max, Prime Video, Paramount+, AMC+, Starz, Peacock TV, and others.

Do you need all of these services? Maybe, but you don't need them all at once. You can subscribe for a month at a time to any or all of these. Pick one this month, a different one next month, and so on, from the ones that interest you. You get a lot of content for a lower price that way.

What does the comparison show?

Looking at what you were paying before, along with the numbers regarding what you'll pay each month. Keep in mind that if you already have any of these streaming services -- Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. -- then you don't figure them in. Or, if you do, you figure them in the current and the future. They cancel out -- you had the service before and after, so it's a wash -- meaning you can leave it out of the calculations if that makes it simpler.

After you've added up what you're paying today, and comparing it to what you'll pay going forward, is it worth it?

It may not be. You may already have the best bargain for your viewing habits. And that's fine.

Or, it may be cheaper to switch to streaming and drop cable. That way you'll save money from now on.

However you decide is the best way for you, whether it's moving from cable to a Streaming Life, or remaining with cable, doing what's best for you is always the goal.

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