A growing number of Americans have been "cutting the cord" in recent years, dropping their cable or satellite television service in favor of streaming services or devices like Apple TV, Sling TV and Roku. The idea for most people is to save money while dropping unwanted or unnecessary channels and services. But a closer look at the current alternatives to traditional TV services shows cord-cutting may not be as simple--or cheap--as it's cracked up to be.
The High Tech Texan Michael Garfield warns that the cost of replacing cable or satellite service could add up as quickly as your cable bill. "You can feel free to cut that cable, but the fact is if you want streaming, you're still going to need high-speed internet access, and you're still going to need to potentially get one of these smaller devices, like the Apple TV or Roku," he says.
That doesn't include so-called over-the-top streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu. Apple just released a new streaming content service of its own, and others are coming from the likes of Disney and ESPN. "You start adding all of this up, and you may be actually paying more than you're currently paying for your cable or satellite," says Garfield. "So you really do have to do the math."
Many of these streaming services are attractive to cord cutters because they offer much lower monthly prices. But Garfield warns those offers also come with strings attached. "Because they are just starting now, at some point when they get more subscribers and it becomes more popular, they're going to raise the price," he says. "So yes, this is a paradigm shift, but at some point we still may be paying the same, if not more money."
Another cheaper option is to get an HDTV antenna for $20 or $30 and just get free over-the-air channels. Garfield says there are about 40 such channels still offered in the Houston area. But whatever you do, be sure to add up the costs of all the services it will take to replace your current one. "Before you cut that cable, look at what you're currently paying and look at the channels that you currently want," says Garfield. "Then start picking and choosing if you think cutting that cord and getting individual services is going to be better for you."