Cord Cutter's Cost Comparison Calculator

Category: Television

More and more consumers are becoming cord cutters -- dropping expensive cable TV and satellite subscriptions in favor of Internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. For some, it's a definite money saver. But it depends on what you want to watch. Read on to learn about Sling TV, a new streaming service, and check out this handy cord cutter's cost comparison calculator...

Does Cord Cutting Make Sense For You?

Let me clear one thing up before I go any further. Whenever I write about cord cutting and replacing cable TV with online streaming services, I get the same question: "If I drop my cable service, how will I get Internet access?" It's become so common to purchase TV-Phone-Internet "bundles" that many consumers don't realize they can be separated.

The irony (or misnomer) is that when you "cut the cord" you still have a cord. You're simply dropping one of the services (subscription TV) you currently pay for. Many consumers are finding that an Internet-only connection satisfies their TV and movie viewing needs. If you're content to watch free videos on your desktop or laptop, you need nothing else. But most families will need to connect a streaming gadget like Roku, Apple TV or Fire TV to the big-screen TV and pay for Netflix and/or similar services that offer their favorite shows or movies.

Cord Cutter's Calculator

You can still save money, but you generally can't replace ALL the channels you currently have. Most notably, sports, local news and premium cable channels will not be in the mix. But that's starting to change.

Slate’s January 12 article, Should You Cut The Cord, includes a nifty cost comparison Web app. Plug in the total cost of your current cable or satellite package. Enter the cost of the Internet-only package(s) you think you would need if your family depended only on streaming services. Check boxes next to current and anticipated streaming services to add them to your hypothetical shopping cart. The app shows the total annual costs of wired and streaming options, and the annual difference between them.

For example, let's say you're currently paying $90/month for a TV/Internet bundle ($1080/year), and your provider offers an Internet-only option for $35/month. You could go with the Internet-only package ($420/year), then add Netflix ($108/year), and Hulu Plus ($96/year) to save $456 annually. But depending on your viewing habits, it could cost more to go with a la carte streaming.

Sling TV: Another Option for Cord Cutters

Along with Netflix and Hulu Plus, the calculator mentioned above gives pricing for other streaming services such as Amazon Prime, HBO, NBA League Pass, MLB.tv and NFL Game Rewind. But there's a new kid in town, which may appeal to a certain segment of the viewing market.

Dish Network announced new Internet-based streaming service at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. The product, Sling TV, offers view-anywhere access to 12 channels and occasional on-demand events for $20 per month. Whether Sling TV is worth its price or not seems to depend on how old you are, in the view of Dish execs. The 12 channels were selected with Millenials in mind – people born between 1981 and 1999. The lineup includes ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN, according to the press release.

"These are probably the premier channels that the Millenial audience, which is the key group that we're going after," Dish spokesperson John Tagle told The Motley Fool in an interview. "Probably the channel that they are most interested in is ESPN."

Sling TV also includes the Watch ESPN app, which broadcasts live sports events to subscribers. None of the major broadcast networks is included with Sling TV, a deliberate omission according to Tagle. Millenials already access NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, et. al., via other means such as HD antennas and Hulu Plus, the networks’ streaming consortium. Sling TV plans to add the networks later.

Dish Network targeted Millenials because they are not big pay TV consumers, so a streaming service won’t compete with its satellite service. Dish’s reasoning is that you can’t cannibalize customers that you don’t have. This logic does not bode well for future streaming offers aimed at more mature viewers. The company hopes that a $20 taste of Dish programming will entice Millenials to upgrade to its pricier satellite-plus-streaming offerings. It remains to be seen whether Millenials, who are used to paying no more than $8.99/month for Netflix (with no contract) will go for this bait.

Sling TV is just the first of several new streaming TV products we can expect this year. If you want to see how much money you might save by cutting the cable or satellite TV cord and going all-Internet, try the online calculator and see if there's a combination of streaming services that fits your needs and budget.

How much could YOU save by cutting the cord? Please tell me in the comments below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Cord Cutter's Cost Comparison Calculator"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Charles
26 Jan 2015

Where do "exceeding bandwidth charges" enter into the cost calculation? Verizon's $15 per 1GB can be costly.


Posted by:

Larry
26 Jan 2015

It is an appealing idea. But living in the country means my only internet service is satellite. No cable, no DSL, no cell-phone. And the satellite has serious bandwidth limits. Even without streaming, I often run over my monthly allowance.

But at least it now has decent speed. Three years ago, it was not much better than dial-up.


Posted by:

Robert Van Bodegon
26 Jan 2015

Let me know when we can get NBC, CBS, ABC and WiFi phone for less $$.


Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
26 Jan 2015

I was all set to drop my DishNet TV, called them up to do so and they offered me my $50 per month off my $102.03 package. Just a thought. If and when we even get a decent reliable high speed signal out here in the hinterland I may drop it altogether, but until then this is a pretty good deal for 250 channels and Sirius-XM satellite radio. I was told it was because I had been a customer for a long time. Just to be clear when I had DirectTV they never offered me any deals after my contract was up. Even wanted me to pay for upgrading my set top box w/DVR. This deal also upgraded my set top box for free.


Posted by:

Doc
26 Jan 2015

CLAUDIA - RE: SMART TV. If you have an HDMI port on it, you can plug your computer into it, if you have a desk-top that can't move in less than half and hour, but have wi-fi in your home you can get something like the Amazon TV 'stick' that will plug in and pick up your wi-fi signals as I understand it - correct me if I'm wrong -- ANYONE. I think I read that the Amazon firestick (I made that up, but it sounds like what Amazon would call their device) is about $100 now.


Posted by:

Tom
26 Jan 2015

Thank you for your informative site. I wanted very much to do this and was confused by so many sources of conflicting information. I found disablemycable.com which answered all my questions. I bought a Leaf antenna on Amazon, a Roku 3, signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus. I have everything I want to watch and much more.


Posted by:

Paul Jackson
26 Jan 2015

@Claudia the reason you were told that you need a smart TV is that the assumption was that you didn't have or want to use an external streaming device such as a Roku, Apple TV, or one of the "streaming sticks". The so called smart-TVs typically have the streaming service software built into them so you don't need a separate box. Note that also most blu-ray players also have these streaming services built in. As long as your TV has a HDMI input then you can use it just fine with an external streaming box or blu-ray player.

I my self have a smart TV, blu-ray player and still use an external streaming device (Roku) as I prefer the nicer interface.

Hope this helps


Posted by:

ManoaHi
26 Jan 2015

1st, I'm not a Millenial (I'm tail end baby boomer), so the Dish/Sling doesn't sound interesting, and not in the demographic of Dish's choice, anyway. But where are the Millenials getting their Internet so that they can watch Netflix? I live in an area that doesn't get all the channels OTA. Aren't they paying for their Internet connection?


Posted by:

Mike
26 Jan 2015

Thank you for this Bob. This is great info


Posted by:

Fred Bertram
26 Jan 2015

I am a Canadian that cut the cord and very happy at that I live in the country and have xplornet satellite internet 50Gigs a month for 70 bucks
bought a roku 2 box it makes my old and thrusty tube tv a smart tv subscribe only to netflix enjoy you tube and facebook on it and get a miriad of other services on roku
another great service I use is called STREEMA is on the net IT IS FREE it actually offers Word wide live and video tv and live radio aniwhere My World is a lot smaller our days
Give it a try guys
sincerely Fred


Posted by:

Carole
26 Jan 2015

I guess I'm still living in the dark ages. I watch tv on an analog television, hooked up to a cable box. This tv has the ability to watch DVDs and VCRs. If I got rid of my cable & purchased a HD tv, I would purchase a Digital HDTV Antennas & Accessories. Have seen them in action and the picture is beautiful. My husband likes to watch shows on Netflix, but there are very few movies or shows I would want to watch. Wished they offered more tv shows in the 50's & 60's and a few ones.


Posted by:

PePe
26 Jan 2015

I do have internet - 50mbs for $46/month and I bought my own modem and router - Comcast is now negotiating with existing customers once AT&T comes into your area; cut $30-$35 off my monthly bill. Purchased a refurbished Ooma telephone and pay $3.50/month for telephone (plugged it into our existing base and all our handsets work fine) - still use our old number and it works with 911. I've used an antenna for about 3 years now (there are about 25-30 English speaking channels in our area - started with an inside but moved to a larger outside antenna to pick up the lower VHF stations; use Windows Media Center (WMC) with PC (refurbished Dell XPS 7100) as TV guide and DVR and external hard drive to store recorded shows (removed everything on the computer except what was needed for the TV and repartioned hard drive to 90g - very good response for streaming. I use a WMC plugin for Netflix and plugin for the, now unsupported but still works, Kylo Browser (goes to TV and other internet sites from WMC). With an inexpensive Rosewill remote, all that I've mentioned so far makes this very friendly for my 79 year old mother. Already had Amazon Prime (free books, music and videos as well as shipping) which I share with my mother (her Kindle is registered to me so we share my Kindle unlimited account as well) and have Netflix.
Purchased PlayOn/PlayLater and got Chromecast free on a special - just plug the Chromecast in a free HDMI slot on the TV and I'm casting (which I don't have to do much because of the Kylo Browser). I record internet shows overnight for later viewing with PlayLater and PlayMark - works great. I do pay an annual fee for VPN so get Canadian TV and British TV (BBC iPlayer rocks!). We also use our library to check out TV series - US, British, Australian - if it's not on Netflix. That's the basics; I do use XBMC for Playon (lots of internet video apps Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, ect.) as it doesn't have a WMC plugin but I don't use it often because the Kylo browser still works for us.
My annual layout for internet, TV and phone is around $810; our Comcast bundle before all these changes was over $2000/yr. You can add another $120/yr for Kindle unlimited and that takes care of our annual home entertainment for TV, books, music, and movies. Sounds simple now, lots of trial and error; went from complicated and beautiful looking media center that needed constant care to simple WMC that needs no special care.


Posted by:

Linda J. Lindley
26 Jan 2015

I cut my cable three years ago. I have a high speed internet connection, attached a ROKU box to my non-smart TV, subscribed to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. I also subscribed to ACORN TV for $5 a month because I like British TV. I don't need a DVR, because streamed programming is always on all the time. Even if I stop watching a show in the middle, it will resume where I left off the next time I get on. With a ROKU player, the reception is crystal clear and it rarely buffers. It is a reasonable cost, and is less than half what I used to pay. I use an HD antenna for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and FOX. The only thing that Sling TV could use to attract me would be to add Fox News to their lineup. Without that, they don't have anything that would beat what I already have.


Posted by:

steven
27 Jan 2015

This is not really cutting the cord, Internet is not over the air, anywhere. Unless you spend lots of time at a public WiFi spot or a coffee house. They will get your money, somehow.


Posted by:

Bruce Corston
27 Jan 2015

You are talking predominantly for USA in this article.
What about Australia?


Posted by:

FactsRule
27 Jan 2015

Sling sounds like a loser. But who would create a losing idea like this? Could it be the same loser who decided to feature the continually discredited CNN instead of the station that gets many times the viewers, Fox News?


Posted by:

Thomas Gallant
27 Jan 2015

About four years ago, I decided cable was a near total waste of money for me. So, I got rid of cable TV and telephone from Comcast, keeping just the Internet signal. Comcast immediately made a deal to include basic cable, basically for free. With the monthly savings I bought my own modem, a brand new iPad, a new phone, Magic Jack services, a Netflix subscription, and had a friend build a very good computer. Haven't missed cable one iota, almost never use the basic cable, and never once used 890 of the 900 full cable channels. Totally happy with my decision, though my TV demands are probably minimal compared to most. Also, not a phone user, so Magic Jack is more than adequate. Mostly, I certainly don't miss paying Comcast for cable I barely used.


Posted by:

Thomas Gallant
27 Jan 2015

About four years ago, I decided cable was a near total waste of money for me. So, I got rid of cable TV and telephone from Comcast, keeping just the Internet signal. Comcast immediately made a deal to include basic cable, basically for free. With the monthly savings I bought my own modem, a brand new iPad, a new phone, Magic Jack services, a Netflix subscription, and had a friend build a very good computer. Haven't missed cable one iota, almost never use the basic cable, and never once used 890 of the 900 full cable channels. Totally happy with my decision, though my TV demands are probably minimal compared to most. Also, not a phone user, so Magic Jack is more than adequate. Mostly, I certainly don't miss paying Comcast for cable I barely used.


Posted by:

Thomas Lang
27 Jan 2015

Bob, I look forward to your daily news letter and learn a lot from the comments, usually. As the majordomo of this site do comments like those from FactsRule offer us anything but a troll's angry political rant? How does this advance a legitimate discussion of the issue du jour? What's your policy about this?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I admit to not reading the entire comment before posting it. So I've edited out the political bits. But it did pique my curiousity. According to several sources I found, Fox News does in fact have 3X the prime-time viewership of both CNN and MSNBC. So from that perspective, Dish's choice of CNN in their Sling package does seem odd.


Posted by:

Dixie Lee English
29 Jan 2015

Have been reading all of the posts as we have been searching for how to get rid of Time Warner! I'm still confused as our favorites are History 1 & 2, Discovery, etc. We do not like sports & minimal news as what they say is scripted by the elites. I watch On Demand mostly as I'm on my CPU working daily. Does someone have a suggestion for us? We can not utilize an antenna in our area, (shoot), so can't figure out how to get around T.W. and still see networks and the listed above plus some on our Smart TV's which are not totally set up because T.W. wants even more than the $200.00 per month we already pay. PLEASE HELP!


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