Should I Cancel Cable?

When YouTube TV raised its prices it started all over again. Some asked if the end of streaming was on the way, or if the price of cord-cutting was getting too prohibitive compared to the traditional bundle. This is the latest misunderstanding of streaming and cord-cutting. While we have never subscribed to former Cord Cutters News owner Luc Bouma’s idea of anti-cord-cutting propaganda in the media, it is obvious that the wrong message is getting out there somehow. It’s probably a lack of understanding from those who report on it. There are many incorrect assumptions people make about what one gets from cable and the ability to get it from other sources. And some built-in issues that just keep adding up.

The price of cable is often miscalculated. It gets tiresome to see. The mistake is unintentional as far as I can tell. But often the price of cable is typically quoted as the price of what companies offer new subscribers. You will see it said that cable and internet cost $99.00. This cost leaves out the cost of everything involved with cable. First of all the various reporters should be quite aware that the $99.00 cost is temporary. Over time the costs rise. Cable like airlines and cell phone companies show a great deal of disrespect to their customers and little to no respect for loyalty. The actual costs for just TV service alone are relative to location. Almost 10 years ago a colleague in California told me the cost of TV service alone was over $200.00. This is not the combined cost of the Internet and TV and “the phone service” just TV service.  Cable companies also get you on fees for their extra boxes. “How many TV’s do you have” they say. $10-15 per box. We have a new fee for this, “Hey we have a new service update” $5.00 more. If you have a bill on autopay take a look at what you are paying.

Cable companies and the people who talk about how they work often overstate the value of a big TV bundle as a product. “Look at all the channels you get, for all the content you get it’s a bargain”. How many channels do you need? Here is a question. How many of them do you actually like? When cable TV was new it was something that met a need. People went from receiving a few grainy networks ABC, NBC, and CBS. Maybe they received PBS and a few low-end UHF channels. All of a sudden you could receive 30 or so channels including HBO, which for the first time brought films from the box office to your home (HBO) Home Box Office.  Better reception, MTV, Sports, 24-hour news, a new channel just for kids, Cubs Baseball, The Chicago Bulls, and the Atlanta Braves via the “Super Stations WGN and TBS. It was transformative. But now its a solution in search of a problem.

The False arguments
It goes like this. If you want to watch this one show, say “Stanger Things”, then you will have to get Netflix and the most common Netflix subscription costs $12.00. And if you want to watch “The Mandalorian” you need Disney+. And if you want to stream CBS you have to get CBS All-Access for $5.99 and if you want to watch “What We Do In Shadows” you have to have Hulu and if you want to watch “American Gods” you have to get Stars and if you want to get ESPN you have to get YouTube TV which costs $55.00. Add that together and have something more expensive than cable which on average costs $99.00 when bundled with the Internet. But here is the thing. Nobody says that you have to get every streaming service, or that you have to get every channel you get with cable. Those that do try can find that it gets pretty expensive. Still, with the way cable prices rise you can pile together a lot of services say Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu with Live TV for $67.00 Is that $200.00? And furthermore, do you expect the cost of cable to freeze where it is? Grab a calculator if you need any help with the math.

Some people may well skip the live TV part entirely. Maybe they really don’t watch that much. How does $24.00 for Hulu and its entire on-demand catalog with shows from multiple networks original programming and tons of movies along with Netflix sound for a TV budget? And the biggest secret of all seems to be that Network TV is free, even though it always was. And nowadays as long as you don’t live in a place with serious geographical issues like a mountain range or a building and or neighborhood that doesn’t allow for antennas you can get pull in those major networks clear as day with an outdoor mounted antenna about the size of a loaf of bread. There are even some changes afoot that will really blow people away like a new broadcast standard that will allow delivery of internet-based content straight to a TV.

Something else they don’t tell you
Do you like network TV? Great. Hulu is a paid service that streams content from NBC, Fox and ABC within 24-hours of airing and it has shows from a lot more than that in its archives. It costs $5.99 on its own. And even if you don’t have an antenna there is a lot of network content available to stream for free. Networks have streaming apps that allow users to check out shows a week after they broadcast. Most local news broadcasts stream their content the same day, and in some cases live. There are hundreds of streaming options for free with movies, 24-hour news, sports, music, and reality TV.  And if you want it you can still sign up for Showtime, HBO, Stars, etc without cable or even a streaming service like it. And we haven’t even talked about the fact that a lot of people have content from Amazon just because they have a Prime membership. Cutting cable gives you the freedom to choose and do so without a contract.


The most absurd argument against streaming and in affect cord-cutting is the need to totally recreate cable. Like we said, there is no need for cable as we have it today. Does anyone need multiple Discovery channels, multiple lifetime channels 4 showtimes, 4 HBO’s? You can actually get 4 HBO’s if you want them. But with on-demand, there is no need for it. Probably the best thing you get from having cable is simplicity (aside from those remotes). It’s all in one place with one interface, with built-in DVR and on-demand. Make no doubt I have told some of my closest friends and relatives to keep cable because they do not want to have to learn something new or don’t want the hassle of buying new technology. But now the question is, does this product meet the needs of you or a family while also meeting the realities of your budget? If the answer is yes then you are all set. Keep it and enjoy, fees and all. TV is not tied to Cable TV. It’s now just a TV delivery product among many. If you think that $100.00 or more per month could do something to help you then you have some thinking to do.