Can you cut your monthly TV bill by cutting the cord?

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That may seem like a silly question. Eliminate your cable and/or satellite TV service and you will also eliminate $100 or more in monthly expenses. Right?

Well, there have been several articles lately that suggest that cutting the cord does not mean cutting your expenses. For instance, the Los Angeles Times recently published this piece (“Cutting the cord doesn’t necessarily mean cutting the costs”) that says:

“Cord cutting has been heralded as a consumer-friendly revolution that lets audiences pay only for the content they enjoy. But as the market becomes more crowded and competitive, it’s uncertain whether digital-only services will necessarily prove less expensive than the cable and satellite services they’re quickly supplanting.”

Other publications recently have noted that if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, at least one live streaming service, such as Sling TV, and get Internet service, your monthly bill will exceed your old cable bill.

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There are also numerous articles on the other side of the fence that say cutting the cord can save you hundreds of dollars every year.

So, who’s right?


As it happens all too often in today’s media, the narrative — the point of view that the author and/or publication wants to emphasize — comes before the facts.

Of course, cutting the cord can save you money. That is, if you only subscribe to Netflix, and a decent Internet service. The total bill for those two will likely fall under $50 a month, compared to more than $100 a month for a video and Internet plan from a pay TV service. Even if you add Hulu or Amazon Prime to your ‘cord-cutting’ bundle, you would still save money.

However, if you watch a lot of TV, you probably won’t be satisfied with those options and you might add a few more services such as Sling TV, HBO Now, DIRECTV Now, or Showtime, and suddenly your bill is creeping close to $100 a month or more.

See my point.

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Cord cutting is not a science with a ‘one plan fits all’ solution. Everyone is different, and will want different programming options when cutting the cord. Consequently, the person who watches a moderate amount of television will probably be happy with Netflix and perhaps Hulu and will indeed save money if he or she cuts the cord.

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But the so-called TV addict will probably end up paying just as much as he or she did after every new streaming subscription is ordered.

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Bottom line: Ignore the debate going on in today’s newspapers and web sites. If you want to cut the cord, look at your own situation and what you will need. That’s the only sure way to determine if cutting the cord actually cuts expenses.

— Phillip Swann