5 On Your Side

Cutting cable offers flexibility, but costs can rise quickly

Posted August 9

If you think you're spending too much money on cable television service, you're not alone.

There are now lots of options for people looking to save money on their cable bills, but some cord-cutting options bring bigger savings than others.

During the first three months of this year, almost 800,000 Americans dropped their traditional TV packages. The new services offer ways to get only the shows and movies that interest you.

People who want it all—TV, internet, phone, Amazon Prime and Netflix,—could pay at least $200 a month. But you don't have to spend a lot to get a lot, as long as you have a strong internet connection and a smart TV or streaming device.

"Get together with your family, write up a list of channels that are must-haves, and then look at the different packages, and see which of those companies are providing the channels that your family really needs," said Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Jim Wilcox.

You can also find cable replacement services that replicate a cable TV package but at a lower cost.

“The most recent ones are YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV," Wilcox said. "They’re very similar, typically going to spend anywhere from say $35 to $40 a month, and you’ll get anywhere from 40 to 50 channels.”

A package with internet, phone, Hulu with Live TV, Netflix Standard and Amazon Prime would cost about $128 a month.

Someone who doesn't need that many options could survive with an antenna for local stations, Netflix Basic and HBO Now. That would cost about $86 a month, including internet.

If you’re really interested in watching online-only content, you can just add some pay-per-view options from iTunes and Amazon Video for about $78 a month.

Some people find when they add up all the services they need to get the shows they want, switching to online services may not save money, and you may be better sticking with a typical cable bundle.

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  • Stacie Hagwood Aug 14, 6:37 p.m.
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    We use an antenna and Netflix, and other than the news, watch less than 4 hours of tv a week. There are so many better ways to spend my time. Like going outside!