There are several ways to view your favorite movies and television shows. If you are the type of person who can’t wait until the next episode of your favorite series, or the latest popular movie, it is important to be able to count on a service that will provide you with this entertainment. You may already have cable television, but maybe wondering if that’s the best choice. What about streaming over the internet via services such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now (just to name a few)? There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of each viewing method. Whether you are looking to save money by dropping your cable subscription or just looking for a better way to stream the movies or tv shows you want, it is important to have all the facts before deciding to cut the cord.
Reasons to Keep Cable
After installation, cable television subscribers pay a monthly fee for a certain number and type of channels. Included in a package might be sporting events, instructional shows, documentaries, cartoons, movies, and regular network shows. This often satisfies the whole family’s viewing needs. Cable is reliable and usually pretty steady in speed unless it is a peak viewing time, and then the shared network in your neighborhood might temporarily slow down a bit. Cable providers may also add services like Netflix and Hulu for a nominal price, so you won’t need to miss out on those extra services as well. Unlike relying on internet connections and bandwidth restrictions, cable offers unlimited viewing time. Cable can also be bundled with internet and phone service, so all of them are on a single bill.
Reasons to Think Twice About Cable
Cable television subscriptions can get pricey. You may be paying for 100 channels and watch maybe 20, but it all comes in one package. There are a lot of channels thrown in that you might just click through. Occasionally, there is an issue getting some local channels. If your family has diverse viewing needs, you may be adding special services, such as a sports package for Dad or a cartoon package for the kids. If you have multiple places in the house where you want to watch shows, there is often a separate charge for each location, including equipment, remote controls, and hookups. Your bill can seem quite high with package options, extra charges, and all those taxes and fees.
Advantages of Streaming
If you pick one streaming service, such as Netflix, there is a single, small, monthly charge. Included in this subscription are multiple shows, movies, and documentaries. Streaming services are on-demand as long as you have a good internet connection. There are plans where you can watch on multiple screens at the same time, including your laptop or phone. There are plans to order DVDs or stream movies not currently on the general playlist. There are also streaming services that specialize in certain subjects, such as FMTV for health topics, Curiosity Stream for science documentaries, or CBS All Access for sports. Choosing one or two can be a low-cost option with no contract to sign.
Drawbacks of Streaming
The biggest disadvantage of a streaming subscription is the internet connection required. If you have fast internet at home, you won’t have to wait for the movies to buffer. If you have slower internet, this is not the way to go. Streaming also takes a lot of bandwidth. Unless you have an unlimited data plan, you will go over your data limit pretty quickly and end up paying a significant sum of money. Then you either have to pay overages or stop watching until the next bill cycle. Even if you have an unlimited plan, sometimes the speeds slow down when you reach a certain amount of bandwidth used in a month.
Each streaming service is separate. If you want Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, those are three separate monthly subscription charges. This can add up quickly. If you have multiple family members watching these services at the same time, you need to upgrade your service to allow for viewing on multiple devices at the same time. If the movie or tv show is not available on the plan you choose, you either have to forgo watching it or find another means of viewing it – perhaps for another charge.
If you want to stream local channels, services like Sling TV have a monthly charge as well. Local channels may be available with the purchase of an antenna and converter box for low cost, but this can be unreliable.
So Which is Best?
Look at your television viewing habits. Which shows or genres are important to each member of your household? Analyze your current cable subscription to see if it fits those needs, then do a cost analysis to figure out what your alternatives are. Investigate which subscription services you would need to replace cable and what each one would cost you. Ask yourself whether your internet service can handle the amount of data you need to watch the movies and shows you need. If you have internet and phone bundled with your cable, don’t forget to factor in replacing those services as well.
Many streaming services offer deals to try them out, and there is no contract to sign, so you could try one or two before replacing cable and if that works for you. You might find that, while cable may be pricey, it is worth the reliability and peace of mind.