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Does Cutting the Cord Actually Cut Costs?

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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?

Both.

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

About TV Answer Man (706 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

22 Comments on Does Cutting the Cord Actually Cut Costs?

  1. Articles like this presume you would subscribe to multiple services. For me the over-the-air channels + hulu offer me LOTS of shows….. more than I have time to reasonably watch.

    Even though I’m missing some favorites like Walking Dead, I don’t feel any desire to add extra services to fill them in. I can just rent the annual DVD when released.

    • It depends on how cord-cutting is defined. For the last 5 years I have been using an android tv box running Kodi+ several addons+ over the air antennas. The only service I am buying is internet. Significant savings. This may change considering recent issues re illegal streaming. However, I believe that this setback is going to be temporary.

  2. Articles like these also assume cost is the only thing cord cutters care about. I am saving costs but also (and the main thing) I’m not in some crazy long committed contract. I have PlayStation Vue and can stop and start again any month I want. $35 and over 70 channels.

    But the freedom and peace of mind of being able to stop any month and knowing there are no hidden fees is wonderful

  3. Henry Spires // June 11, 2017 at 9:28 pm // Reply

    Also assuming we weren’t already paying for internet. How convenient!

  4. I was paying $171 a month for Comcast (slow internet 25mbps and cable) $38 for landline and $10 for netflix. Dropped comcast and landline. Went with local 150mbps Internet and landline for $50 a month. Added Hulu and Sling Blue. Connected over the air antenna – 15 free channels. Paying $96 a month and could not be happier.

    • There you go. Of course if you also use wifi for pc, laptop, phone etc you are quid’s in !

      • YEA !! Where do you live and get that for $ 50.00 ??
        What are you using 150 mbps Internet for ? This a Company ? Got 10 Computers hooked up, LOTS of TV using HD Streaming, Downloading the Encyclopedia in 5 Minutes ? ALL at the Same Time. That is what you use 150 mbps for. Have you checked your Speed, with a “SPEED TEST” ? Sales people will say anything to make a sale.
        In Google, Type “Speed Test” and let us know what it says.
        How LONG is this PROMO for ? From WHO ??

    • Who is providing the 150mbps internet and how long will it last at that price ?

  5. Michael D'Auben // June 11, 2017 at 10:09 pm // Reply

    Articles trying to minimize cost savings always figure internet as a new cost. I had internet before I cut the cord so it’s not a new cost for me. I paid $150 on top of internet for my cable. Now I pay $30 on top of internet. Result? A savings of $120 a month!

  6. You’re an idiot and this article is ill founded. Im looking at cutting the cord and between stand alone internet and the streaming services I figure well need will come out to just under $100/ month. Im currently paying $238/ month now for internet and cable
    I realize there will be up frint hardware costs in the beginning, but even averaging those in I will be saving well over a $100 month. So where is the flaw in that math?

  7. Duke Sweden // June 11, 2017 at 11:36 pm // Reply

    Internet service should never be factored in as most people have internet service anyway, whether they use it for streaming or not.

  8. That LA Times reporter was a hack. We added the cost of Internet into cordcutting. His report also had a person subscribing to DirecTV Now and PS Vue. No one would ever do that since they basically the same (Vue is way better).

    I’m so glad I cut the cord a year ago. I was paying $250 a month for Cox cable with 100mb Internet. Add the $9 for Netflix and $9 for hulu and I was paying $268 a month. Since then I increased my Internet to 300Mb ($99). Subscribe to PlayStation Vue w/ HBO ($45), Netflix ($9) and Hulu commercial free ($12). That’s a total of $165 a month with a savings of $103 each month.

    So glad I cut the cord.

  9. I have been a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriber for a number of years now.

    I was paying $99.95 for an HD Cable Package and $55.95 for 30Mbps Down Internet Access.

    Since December I am paying $29.95 for Playstation Vue and $74.95 for 150 Mbps Down Internet Access.

    I feel like I came out ahead.

  10. Bob Wise is correct. I’m sure many of these “negative cost-cutting” articles are written from talking point outlines supplied by cable companies. And as Bob points out, all these media outlets are joined at the waist financially and are only more than glad to pump out biased BS articles to support their own financial well-being.

  11. There really is a revolution in TV watching as more people realize they are being sold a pup. The trouble is the ‘no thinkums’ will still mindlessly watch cable pap and be content. Depends on your pov.

  12. I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Definitely feel like I save money. Already had internet and would anyway. Amazon Prime I have subscribed yearly since it became available because of the free shipping. TV and music is just a bonus on top of that so really Netflix is the only thing I pay for (and I was paying for that on top of cable anyway)

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