We have written many guides over the years about how to cut the cord. This does not make the Streaming Advisor unique in the space. That being said there are a lot of guides that get it wrong. This is usually because either the guide is not really a guide as much as it is a portal to multiple affiliate links or more innocently, the person writing the guide has not really been a cord cutter in practice. Any guide I write comes from the perspective of someone who has been a cord cutter well over ten years, before it was easy or the in thing to do.
Over the past five years, the narrative that cord-cutting is just as expensive as having cable has become a predictable part of the streaming news cycle as TV stations, financial publications and others who are not familiar with the full range of technology and services decide to jump into the conversation. We can cut through the confusion. This article as the title says is about how to keep yourself from getting nickled and dimed to death when you cut cable or satellite services and maximize your savings.
Don’t count out low-cost tiers of services
If you are looking to replace cable TV with streaming services an obvious destination for TV watchers are some of the many premium streaming services that are available in the marketplace. HBO Max, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Discovery+, ESPN+ and cable replacements like Sling TV, Hulu With Live TV, Fubo TV, Philo, FRNDLY, YouTube TV, and Vidgo. Get them all and your costs will really add up. Believe it or not there are people who pay for more than one cable replacement service just because of access to a few select channels. The thing about a lot of these services is that there are often different prices and tiers of service available.
Don’t Overpay For Netflix
While many articles report that Netflix can cost as much as $20.00 the streamer has multiple service options. Yes, the most expensive tier of Netflix costs $20.00. But the least expensive tier costs $9.99. What is the difference? See the Netflix plans here It’s all about HDR and simultaneous streams. Does everyone in your family have to watch Netflix at the same time, or do you even have kids in the house? The $9.99 level of Netflix only allows one device to stream at a time. That means for instance one Roku or Fire TV or other smart TV at a time. It does not mean that the service will not work on lots of TVs and streaming devices, but if you have the basic tier two people can not watch Netflix on separate devices at the same time. In my home that has never proven to be a problem. Maybe it is in others. The other noted difference between the three tiers is that the Basic offering only allows users to stream in “Standard Definition” or 480. On paper that may sound like a big deal in the era of HD, 4K, 4k-HDR, and even 8K. But you might be shocked to see what the difference really looks like, especially when you are viewing on a 4k TV or even an older HDTV. You almost can’t buy a TV that only displays up to 1080p. The key point is that TVs all do something called “upscaling“. This means that your TV will make whatever video you are watching look as good as possible and I promise you, it will look just fine.
Check out a few advertisements
There are a number of services that offer ad-supported versions of their service alongside ad-free versions. Those include Hulu, Discovery+, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount+ and others. The cost difference usually ranges between 2.00-6.00. That doesn’t seem like much right? For instance, HBO Max with ads costs $9.99 and the ad-free tier costs $14.99. HBO Max does not actually run ads during its HBO programming, just everything else. So if you get it for HBO Max Originals or premium shows like Game of Thrones you still don’t watch advertisements. With Hulu the difference is $6.00. Ad supported Hulu costs $6.99 ad-free costs $12.99. Discovery+ is $4.99-$6.99. On their own none of those charges sound like much. But think of it like this. Discovery+ without ads will cost $24.00 more per year than the ad-supported one. But let’s say you went into it saying I want a top-of-the-line ad-free experience with the best version of everything I stream. Now you are talking an extra 10.00 for Netflix that you may well be able to live without and not even miss it, an extra $6.00 for Hulu, an extra $5.00 for HBO Max, and now you are talking 21.00 per month extra and about $250.00 extra per year. This is not to say that everyone who cuts the cord has to add those specific services. There are other services that offer multiple service tiers but it’s simply worth noting that many many streaming services offer multiple price plans.
Take advantage of the lack of contracts
You can have as many or as few streaming services as you want at a time. But for some reason, many people pay for lots of them at once. Like I said to each his own. But you don’t have to do that. I don’t know what you really want to watch on a daily basis, but you do. And if you must have access to 6 services at the same time to sleep at night then so be it. But if TV is something you do to chill out for a few hours at a time it’s quite possible that you can decide what it is that you want to relax with. Want to jump in with the Star Trek Universe? You can find all of the Star Trek series even the newest and oldest ones on Paramount+ now as well as the movie catalog from all eras with the notable exception atm of The Wrath Of Khan. Has everyone told you you need to see The Mandalorian or the multiple Marvel TV shows on Disney+? Sign up and binge them and then drop it. There are only like 10 episodes each per season on most Disney+ series. All of these services are month-to-month services. What they count on is that you will set them up for auto pay and forget about it. But when you start to look at bills for streaming services ad up it can seem like a big surprise. Again, you might want to feel that the whole world of streaming is yours to see at the push of a button. But each respective streaming service has a huge library to dive into. I bet you can occupy yourself with one or two at a time per month if you tried. Those of us who have been at it since 2005 used to not have the choice at all and made it work.
Consider if you really need to replace every channel you ever watched
Most people don’t really watch that many of the cable channels in their respective packages. The most Americans watch is around 20. Some folks treat TV as a thing to kill time with while others truly love what they watch. Maybe you have a favorite news show that bookends the day for you. Some folks can’t fathom living without ESPN and the greater family of ESPN networks. That’s fair. But are you sure that you need to have every channel you ever watched on cable TV if it means racking up bills or did you just watch because that’s what you finally stopped on while you were flipping? The reason we ask this is because there is a range of cable replacement services and multiple tiers of programming on many of them. Users who treasure lifestyle and reality programming may find a scaled-down service like Philo is perfect for them. In fact, if sports and news channels are not important you can save a ton of money with some of the services out there. You should also think of what is your favorite kind of content and see where it lives. Paramount+ for $5.99 may give you all you need with its collection of programming from Viacom, CBS and Showtime without the need to add anything else. A combo of Paramount+, Hulu and Peacock may be more than enough to replace cable for about 16.00. There are multiple ways to approach TV that don’t involve paying $70.00 upfront every month.
Remember to try out antennas
Antennas are not a one-stop solution for all users. The range of results from a range of antennas is all based on where you live in regards to transmission towers, what is around your home and where you can put one. But man, in the right market, a well-placed antenna unlocks a lot of content and most importantly ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. Those channels are the home of most major TV shows and a bevy of major sports events every year. If you can watch those channels with an antenna you need not miss out on most of the highest-rated programming on TV. Just hook one up and do a scan to see what you get where you live. If you have never done so you may be shocked. And remember, if there is something specific on a service you can sign up, use it, binge it and drop it. This weekend I watched college and NFL football for two straight days without much need of a cable channel. Can you get ESPN with an antenna? No. But you can get it with a service like Sling TV for $35.00 and also get a bunch of other channels too. Those channels include ESPN2, and ESPN3 (the internet offering with multiple streams including ABC Sports), AMC, The History Channel, HGTV etc. The thing is that Sling TV does not offer the network channels as part of their package. But when you combine them you can have your cake and eat it too. And even more, if you have Sling TV bc of say College football season, you can drop it after the fall. Again, no contracts.
For goodness sakes explore free stuff
If you are already not averse to advertisements you most assuredly should check out some of the free streaming services that are out there on smart TVs and streaming devices. We have a video below that gives you a feel for what is out there. You might be shocked at how much is there for the taking with no cost to you at all.