Will Cable Ever Be Cheaper Than Streaming?

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Cable TV is a hub of wide-range broadcast and top-tier cable networks that bring the best of entertainment from around the globe to your connected display and let you catch up with everything from news, drama, mystery, sports, nature, lifestyle, and kids programming to even international and premium content should you desire to add them to your lineup. Cox cable TV has one of the best collections of channels in this regard. On the other hand, streaming television is a novice technology that distributes digital content across the web, which you can watch on your personal schedule instead of waiting around for your cable provider to air it. Both video delivery systems have their pros and cons, which we will discuss in this post, before concluding whether cable TV will ever surpass streaming TV’s ridiculously affordable cost. Let’s begin.

The Case for Cable TV

Cable has been around since the 60s. When it first came about, it immediately caught the attention of the people who had had enough of the terrestrial television and spotty satellite TV systems. It liberated them, in a way, with its series of high-definition channels and forever changed the way they watched TV. Cable garnered its place in the hearts of the American viewership, so much so, that even today around 60% of them are unwilling to let go of their cable subscriptions in favor of the new age streaming. What’s so special about cable television?

Familiarity: We’ve all grown up flipping through channels on cable TV. So, it holds that sense of familiarity for everyone, regardless of age. And, familiarity is comforting, to say the least.

Convenient Billing: Cable companies nowadays offer not just television but high-speed internet and phone services too. You can bundle them together or get them a la carte, and pay for all of these telecom necessities together on a single bill at the end of the month.

Next-Gen Boxes: Gone are the days when you had to deal with bulky set-top boxes that only performed one function. Today’s cable boxes are state-of-the-art, have a sleek design that gels in perfectly with your home interior and are multi-functional, in the sense that they support 4K streaming, the latest HDR video standards, Dolby Atmos, several applications, voice capability, AI assistants, and even DVR.

Cost Analysis

The only downside to cable is its rising costs. Here’s an illustrative table:

Cable Provider Channel Count Monthly Cost
Xfinity from Comcast 220+ $70.99 – $89.49
Cox Communications 140+ $25 – $69.99
Charter Spectrum 200+ $44.99 – $89.99
Optimum 420+ $64.95 – $104.95

Offer availability and price subject to change.

On top of these cable package costs, there are sports and broadcast surcharges, DVR service fee, premium subscriptions, and more, depending on how you go about it. So, the average bill for cable rounds up to $90 per month for high-tier plans.

The Case for Streaming TV

It was the year 2007 when streaming services broke the market with their incredibly flexible offerings. Netflix ranked at the top and closed the annual quarter with the highest number of subscribers ever. It still holds a monopoly today, even though big networks like CBS and HBO have deployed their own services in the arena. Streaming TV works on the principles of video-on-demand. If you want to watch a particular movie, documentary, or catch up with your favorite TV show, all you need to do is access the online portal of a credible service and start streaming right away. Some streaming services require a monthly subscription, while others are free. Here are a few pros of streaming TV:

No Wait Time: While cable makes you run around the clock on its schedule, streaming brings that control into your hands. You can tune into any kind of programming at any time.

Universal Compatibility: Multiple streaming TV services have launched their applications, besides the web platforms. You can easily download the Netflix app on the device of your choice, whether smartphone, tablet, laptop, or smart TV (provided that it has internet access), and stream seamlessly. 

Hundreds of Options: The streaming market is getting saturated as we speak. Loads of new streaming options have arrived, which you can customize to suit your circumstances. Unlike cable, you can subscribe to more than one service at the same time.

Cost Analysis

Streaming services are highly affordable, as the following table shows:

Streaming Provider Service Monthly Cost
Netflix On-Demand $8.99 – $15.99
Hulu On-Demand $5.99 – $11.99
Sling TV Live TV $30 – $45
YouTube TV Live TV $64.99


Is Cable Cheaper?

Once you compare the cost of cable and streaming, two levels emerge. On a surface level, streaming wins with its less than $50 per month pricing. However, on a deeper level, you’ll see that it’s not as simple as that. While streaming services in themselves have pocket-friendly plans, they also impel you to have a faster internet connection on the side, which can bear the onslaught of streaming activity across multiple devices. A faster internet connection costs $70 on average, so pair this with 4 to 5 streaming subscriptions (which most of the households have), and you’ll arrive at a figure which may exceed even premium cable rate. So, the probability of cable being cheaper gets high in this case. You should evaluate and compare the options in your area, so that you may find a service that corresponds to your budget needs the best.

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