According to the Leichtman Research Group, the average paid-TV (satellite or cable TV) bill is $106/month and rising.
Cord-cutting streaming substitutes AT&T TV Now (formerly DIRECTV Now), Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV average around $50/month to start. And the basic channels are the same as paid-TV.
So, what’s not to love about streaming? The problem is this: Like the T-1000 liquid metal killing machine in Terminator 2, the add-on services, fees, channels, and other assorted nickel-and-diming of streaming services can easily reassemble into a Frankenstein monster of piled-on costs that gallop right past your old paid-TV bill.
You also need to consider the fact that many paid-TV services are packaged with Internet service. Leave one service and you break the bundle — meaning your Internet price goes up. You may also need to upgrade to faster Internet service to stream TV.
Streaming services goosed the cord-cutting revolution by offering a dramatically lower-priced alternative to three-digit cable/satellite bills. However, it didn’t take long for all the streaming services to get greedy. Both AT&T TV Now and YouTube TV boosted their basic channel subscription prices soon after launch, and AT&T TV Now celebrated their name change from DIRECTV Now with further price increases. Sling TV raised the price of its basic streaming video package to $25/month — not including a staggering array of paid add-ons for desirable channels and features that could easily triple your $25. Also, most streaming services’ DVR features have gone from free to a tiered pricing system.
AT&T TV Now’s basic package (45 channels) costs $50/month. Their former $40 basic package (60 channels) is now $70/month. Adding channels increases the rate to $93, $110, or $135 (not a typo), among other choices. AT&T TV Now’s Cloud DVR lets you record a paltry 20 hours of content, which expires in just 30 days. A higher-capacity DVR is rumored, but that will cost you.
Hulu + Live TV starts at $54.99/month after a December 2019 price increase. An “Enhanced DVR” that lets you fast-forward through commercials (in other words, a DVR) adds $10 to the bill. “Unlimited Screens” adds $10. If you package them all, you get a discounted price of $70.
YouTube TV started at $35/month and jumped to $40/month soon afterward. On April 10, 2019, the price jumped again, to $50/month. You can add services such as Fox Soccer Plus for $15/month.
How could all this price creep happen again? Didn’t these new services learn anything from paid-TV, the bottom-dwellers in consumer satisfaction for decades?
These new services act the same because these new services are the same. AT&T TV Now and Sling TV are owned by satellite TV operators AT&T and Dish Network, respectively. Hulu is owned by Disney and cable giant Comcast.
And you can’t have any discussion about cord-cutting without Netflix. While the service is a gold mine of content, Netflix also rewards its viewers with frustratingly regular price increases, now $16/month for their 4K plan.
Let’s put together a package and see how much you “save” with streaming:
You could go whole-hog and replace the Hulu package with the AT&T TV Now “Ultimate” package for $135, driving your total cost to $223. And there are additional services to which you could subscribe, such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO NOW, DC Universe, ESPN+, PGA Tour Live, NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB TV, and more. But you get the idea. This ain’t right.
I’m pro cord-cutting, but not like this. We cut the cord more than 5 years ago and never looked back. Here’s how we did it:
After the initial outlay for gear, which paid for itself in four months, our monthly TV fee is now the $16 for Netflix. That’s it. Will that work for you? Only you can decide. What I’m saying here is this: if The Man sticks it to you, there is a way to stick it back to The Man.