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The original promise of cord-cutting has almost ended. Back in the good ‘ol days of checks notes 2016, when cord-cutting was just getting off the ground, live TV streaming services like PlayStation Vue were available with entry prices of just $30 for 50+ channels.
Meanwhile, on-demand giant Netflix was still $7.99 for a basic account, and Hulu was actually still free (at least partway into that year; 2016 was the year Hulu began charging a fee).
It’s safe to say, those days are gone. And as we discussed earlier this month, everyone’s paying more for streaming content. But that brings up 3 important questions:
- How much are you actually paying for your “bucket ‘o services”?
- What’s my cost compared to traditional cable TV?
- Is cord-cutting still worth it despite the price increases we’ve seen in recent years?
Your credit card may or may not appreciate the answers, but we recommend you keep reading all the same.
Not the parity we were hoping for
Let’s start with how much you’re paying for content right now. That’s simple back-of-napkin math.
The average household now has 4.7 on-demand streaming services. Let’s say you’re paying for the cheapest possible option for each of the top services by market share. You’re likely signed up for at least two of the following:
- Netflix ($9.99/month for Basic)
- Amazon Prime Video ($7.99/month)*
- HBO Max ($14.99/month)
- Disney+ ($7.99/month)
- Hulu ($6.99/month x 70% = $4.89)
*Many of us get Amazon Prime Video included with a Prime account, so the cost is a bit difficult to calculate separately. That said, we’re going with the standard pricing for this analysis.
By our nerdy calculations here, the average household would be paying a minimum of $45.85 per month for on-demand services alone.
In reality, most of you aren’t paying the bare minimum for each of these services. Maybe you have the Standard Netflix service for $15.49/month. That would bump your monthly cost up to $51.35/month.
And maybe you felt Hulu + Live TV was a good deal at $69.99/month because it includes ESPN+, Disney+, live tv channels, and Hulu on-demand, so you have that instead. Now you’re paying around $108/month (a number that excludes Disney+ and Hulu individual pricing).
Wait…didn’t I cut the cord for cost savings?
Is this a reality check? Does it hit too close to home?
If you cut the cord on traditional cable TV, guess what? You’re closing in on those original costs you sought to avoid.
Yikes? Yikes. That’s a point of parity none of us who’ve been in this game thought we’d ever see.
Should I just call it quits on cord-cutting, then?
While it’s true we’ve reached a price point many of us never thought we’d see with cord-cutting and/or feared would eventually rear its ugly head, there are still several clear benefits to using a streaming model.
- Cord-cutting is still far more flexible with no annual contracts.
- You can still cancel your subscription to streaming services without fear of getting hit with cancellation fees.
- You usually aren’t limited by location regarding the availability of most channels (with the exception of regional sports networks).
- There are no hidden fees, like having to pay for a cable box.
- And ultimately, cable TV simply doesn’t carry all of the content you’re going to want to access, especially with the explosion of must-see original programming available only through on-demand streaming services.
Traditional cable TV is still insidious for making it hard to cancel, hiding fees where you least expect them, and doubling or tripling in price as you renew your subscription. These aren’t concerns that come with cord-cutting and, with any luck, they never will be.
Don’t quote us on that, though.
Sam Cook is a full-time content strategist by day, a part-time freelance content writer since 2015. In another life, he was a high school English teacher for nearly a decade. Based in sunny New Orleans, he writes long-form educational content on technology, including Insurtech, Fintech, HRtech, and content streaming. He loves whittling down complex ideas within these areas that make decisions easier for buyers. When he’s not reading books with his son Miles and playing video games with the family, you can find him immersed in his growing collection of Euro-style board games.