Are you tired of paying a costly cable or satellite TV bill each month? You may be able to cut the cord and start saving money in 2023!
If you’re paying $100 or more per month for your cable television service, there’s a good chance that streaming TV can help you save hundreds of dollars each year without losing access to the content that matters most to you.
And in the process, you may find that you don’t really miss the cable channels you’ve been paying to hold onto for so long!
In this article, I’ll outline strategies for saving money on your television budget by switching to streaming. I’ll also give you tips for the most cost-effective way to switch from cable to streaming TV.
This article was updated in May 2023 and I review it every three months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
How To Cut the Cable TV Cord and Save Money
Thanks to advances in the streaming TV world over the last few years, your options for saving money by ditching cable TV are plentiful. And it’s never been easier.
Even a move as simple as switching your monthly $100 cable bill to a $70 streaming bill will save you $360 per year!
In this article, I’ll answer all the questions you might have about making the switch by walking you through this process step-by-step.
- Make Sure You Have Adequate High-Speed Internet
- Smart TV vs. Streaming Device: Make Your Choice
- Figure Out How You’ll Watch Local Channels
- Check Out the Free Streaming Content Available
- Find the Cheapest Way To Watch the Cable Channels You Love
- Assess the Streaming Market To Make Smart Decisions for Your Wallet
If you already know the answer to some of these questions for your household, feel free to skip ahead.
Make Sure You Have Adequate High-Speed Internet
The first thing to consider when dipping your toes into the streaming world is whether or not your internet serviced can support cutting the cord.
You need a high-speed network in your home that’s capable of streaming your live and on-demand content in addition to your regular internet use. That’s going to cause a strain on your connection that cable and satellite TV does not.
Each streaming service has its own minimum internet speed for optimal high-definition viewing, but Team Clark has landed on 10 Mbps as the minimum speed you need to feel comfortable that you’ll get a quality stream.
You can read more about the internet speed requirements for streaming services here.
In the early days of streaming TV, a good internet connection was a big hurdle for people on limited budgets and those who live in rural areas.
But as internet speeds increase across the country, the access to service fast enough to stream television has become much better. And many potential cord-cutters are already paying for some sort of high-speed internet.
If you’re willing to watch content on your wireless phone, you may also find that the expanding 5G connections available on many networks provide internet speeds adequate for high-definition viewing away from your home internet.
Smart TV vs. Streaming Device: Make Your Choice
Once you’re sure that your home internet service is sufficient, your next big decision is how you’ll consume the streaming content once you cut the cord.
If you’re looking to replicate the cable experience on your living room television, then you’ll need a way to connect that TV to your streaming subscriptions. Think of it as needing access to a cable box without paying that pesky monthly fee to get one.
There generally are two options for this: You can either use a smart TV that has streaming apps built into the menu, or you can make a one-time purchase of a streaming device to connect to your TV.
Though many of you may be perfectly happy with the way your smart TV performs, we generally suggest that streamers pick a streaming device (such as Roku or Amazon Fire TV).
There are a few reasons having a streaming device could be advantageous:
- User-friendly interfaces: Our experience with smart TVs is that the user experience can vary greatly by model. Some can be clunky and slow. When you have a Roku or Amazon Fire device, you’re typically getting a top-of-the-line experience in custom-built and well-maintained ecosystems.
- Most apps live here: With a few notable exceptions, Roku and Amazon Fire typically have access to the major streaming apps for live, on-demand consumption — for free. Smart TVs sometimes are limited in their content selections and can be slower to adapt when new services come along.
- They’re portable: Streaming devices plug into your TV’s HDMI port, which means you can simply unplug it to move from room to room as needed. You also can take this to a friend’s house or on vacation. Your smart TV can be moved as well, obviously, but who wants to lug a 60-inch TV around?
- You can connect your content between devices: If you have three or four different brands of smart TVs in your home, the experience may vary. But purchasing a Roku stick for each and connecting the same Roku account to all of them lets you keep all of your apps, favorites, etc., at your fingertips no matter which television you’re using.
Figure Out How You’ll Watch Local Channels
If you need access to your local channels without cable, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX or PBS, you’ll likely have to sign up for a streaming service that provides them or try to get those channels for free with an antenna.
Live TV streaming services like YouTube TV provide access to local channels, but less expensive live TV services, such as Philo, do not.
Antennas are relatively cost-effective and provide free access to local channels broadcasting in your area.
The quality of access to these channels is directly correlated to the power of your antenna and your distance from the towers of your local TV stations. If you live relatively near those towers, you may need an antenna that reaches only 20-50 miles.
Mohu Leaf, which is one of the top-rated antenna brands for cord-cutters, offers a “metro” antenna for under $25. It has a 25-mile range. However, you may require a more powerful and costly antenna if you live in a rural setting.
Check Out the Free Streaming Content Available
Before you go wild signing up for new subscription streaming services, I recommend that you take a little time to research some of the free options available to you.
The free streaming market has thousands of hours of TV shows and movies available, and you can jump in and out of these services without signing up for accounts or handing over your credit card.
After watching these services for a few weeks, you might be surprised at just how little you miss the hundreds of channels you were paying for — but not actually watching — with your cable subscription.
Team Clark has done extensive research on the free streaming market, so be sure to check out our guide to the best free streaming services.
But if you’re in a hurry to get started, here are a few free services that I recommend you try first:
Also, don’t be afraid to check out non-traditional free streaming TV options such as YouTube and Twitch. They have growing libraries of original content that may catch your eye.
Find the Cheapest Way To Watch the Cable Channels You Love
Many cord-cutters stress over the potential of losing access to the channels they love watching on cable.
The good news is that almost every channel, sporting event, movie or TV show available on cable is also streamed nowadays.
Team Clark has developed a tool to help you find the right live TV streaming services based on the channels that you watch the most.
All you have to do is type in the names of the channels you like (add as many as you want!), and our tool will help you figure out which service carries them and how much the packages with that service cost.
If this tool doesn’t answer all your comparison shopping questions, you may also find our side-by-side channel comparison chart useful.
Assess the Streaming Market To Make Smart Decisions for Your Wallet
There are three basic types of streaming services that you can use to replace your cable TV experience:
Depending on the type of content you like to watch and your monthly budget, your best choice may range from sticking to one of those exclusively to using some combination of all three.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re cutting the cord in an effort to save money.
You can gain an understanding of what each type of streaming service offers by clicking on the links above. But here’s a quick rundown of what each offers and what you can expect to pay for access.
|Live TV Streaming||Video Streaming||Free Streaming|
|Starting from:||$25 per month||$4.99 per month||FREE!|
|Content offered:||Traditional TV channels, live sports and news||Ad-free catalogs of popular TV shows and movies||Ad-supported streams of older TV shows and movies|
|Services include:||YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV||Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+||Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel|
When it comes to paying for services, make sure you evaluate the savings potential by recognizing seasonal changes in your consumption.
For example, if you’re a football fan who pays for cable primarily to watch games in the fall, perhaps you’re a good candidate to pay for a live TV streaming service for 4-5 months out of the year and then cancel it. That move alone could save you hundreds of dollars per year.
Or maybe you subscribe to Netflix just to binge-watch one or two shows. Do you really need to hand Netflix up to $20 per month for the 9-10 months per year that your favorite shows aren’t releasing new episodes? That’s upwards of $200 that could stay in your pocket each year.
Do you like to travel in the warm weather months? You could consider shutting off your streaming subscriptions while you’re out and about during the summer.
Thanks to the ability to cancel streaming services without penalties, these are money-saving options most cable subscribers have never enjoyed!
Final Thoughts on Cutting the Cord
Are you ready to ditch that cable bill forever?
Great! I hope the information we have provided you in this article has you inspired to save money and excited to try all the great streaming services available to you.
Here are a few things to remember as you go forward on your quest to cut the cord:
- Good internet service is key for streaming. Most people are already paying for high-speed home internet whether they’re cable subscribers or not, but it’s important to remember that you’ll need at least 10 Mbps to stream most services without buffering interruptions.
- Take advantage of free trials. I talked a lot about video streaming services and live TV streaming services that charge monthly fees, but here’s some additional good news: Many of them offer 7 or 14-day free trials. Use those as a streaming “test drive” before you say goodbye to cable TV.
- You can quit at any time. The beauty of streaming TV is that the majority of these services bill you on a month-by-month basis. If you can’t afford a certain service any longer or it stops carrying the content you like, all you have to do is cancel, and you’ll owe nothing beyond your current month’s bill.
- Even a little bit of savings is a win. We talked about some pretty extreme content changes that could save you thousands of dollars over the next few years. But even the small savings you get by switching from cable to YouTube TV, for example, is still a big move in the right direction. That money adds up!
Do you have experience cutting the cord and want to help those considering it? We’d love it if you can share your tips and advice in our Clark.com Community!
- May 2023: Updated pricing on Mohu Leaf antenna.