Columnist David Lazarus of Nexstar’s KTLA answers viewer questions in his “Ask Laz” segment.
(KTLA) – Netflix has increased the monthly cost of a standard plan to $15.49 from $13.99. Amazon is raising the monthly price of a Prime membership, which includes streaming videos, to $14.99 from $12.99.
As the cost of streaming services keeps rising amid an industry push for more original content, viewers like me, who did cut the cord, may wonder: “With streaming services hiking prices, does it still make sense to have streaming over cable?”
The answer, as with most pricing questions is: It depends.
Cord cutting was a smart choice when pay-TV companies relied on fat programming packages to make a buck, typically forcing customers to pay for dozens, even hundreds, of channels they may not want or ever watch.
Lately, most leading pay-TV companies are trying to stem the cord-cutting tide by offering “skinny bundles” — fewer channels at lower prices.
Even so, doxoInsights, a market researcher, estimates that most U.S. households pay an average $116 monthly for cable and internet service.
So when crunching the numbers about cord cutting, you want to consider two things: The cost of a broadband internet connection needed for streaming, and the combined cost of channels or services you plan to subscribe to.
The average broadband bill runs about $60 a month. So it’s not hard to see how expenses can pile up as cord cutters tack on viewing choices such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Hulu and other services.
If you’re not careful, your monthly streaming bill can quickly surpass the $116 monthly average for cable/internet service.
When I cut the cable cord, my roughly $150 monthly cable bill was slashed by half. As an Amazon Prime member, I had access to the company’s streaming video service at no additional cost. I added a Sling TV subscription ($35 a month) to round out my viewing options.
As the pandemic continued and I exhausted all available shows and movies, I subscribed for a month at a time to Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+, watching everything I liked and then moving on to a different service.
A cable skinny bundle is convenient and increasingly price competitive. But I still like the freedom and control afforded by cutting the cord. I feel like I’m paying for only what I want.
So does it still make sense to cut the cord? I say yes, as long as you don’t overdo it on streaming subscriptions. And if the trend continues, this will only place more pressure on traditional pay-TV providers to offer more attractive bundles and services.
Meanwhile, it seems as though the heavyweight streaming services are testing how high they can push prices before subscribers revolt. I suspect we’re approaching those levels.
Bottom line: Cord cutting makes sense if you want to sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to your home viewing. If you’re cool with riding shotgun, cable and satellite companies probably have something you’ll like.