Cutting the cord, and confused about all your non-cable options? Here’s what you need to know

Chances are, you’ll trade one large bill for several smaller bills. Here is how you can maximize your dollar.

Video Transcript

TONYA FRANCISCO: From cable, to satellite, to streaming services, it can be overwhelming, not to mention expensive. I recently posed the question to my Facebook friends. What do you do?

KELLY JONES: I cut the cord last year. I was paying close to $300 a month for Comcast. I have Hulu live TV and I have a few other streaming apps.

PETER JASON QUILL: I found that combining Xfinity internet and cable is cheaper than cutting the cord.

ERICKA NICOLE: I cut the cord and only had wifi with streaming services. Initially it was affordable and convenient for our family. Now there are too many options, and the price is steadily increasing.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Dan Rayburn is an analyst with Frost & Sullivan.

DAN RAYBURN: Many different services out there-- I track about 200 what we call OTT services, OVER-THE-TOP streaming services, just in the US alone.

TONYA FRANCISCO: He considers himself one of the foremost authorities on streaming media. He says the first thing you have to consider when deciding between cable and streaming is what type of content you like.

DAN RAYBURN: Is it long-form, is it short-form, is it on-demand, is it live? Is it sports, documentaries, original content, news? Figure out the type of content that you can't live without.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Second, he says you have to figure out how much you're willing to pay for these different services combined. And, third, which services you might get for free as part of a bundle?

DAN RAYBURN: So, for instance, I bought a new LG TV last Thanksgiving. Well, when I bought it, there is a deal where I got Disney+ free for a year. In many cases, you can get some of these streaming services for free for services you're already buying from your wireless carrier.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Rayburn warns when cutting the cord or getting rid of cable, think about this. Base packages for streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and FuboTV have all gone up from $20 when they first came out to $65 and up a month.

DAN RAYBURN: And the reason for that is they don't own the content. They have to go out to license the content from the content owners and the content owners have raised the rates so much.

TONYA FRANCISCO: And there might be some blackout restrictions on local sports teams and there also may be limitations on how many people can be watching at one time.

DAN RAYBURN: You want to have three, four, five people in the house watching that stream at the same time, many of them have a limitation to just two or three. That's different than cable.

TONYA FRANCISCO: You also need to know, if you bundle your cable with your internet, the moment you cut the cable from the bundle, the cost of your internet service will go up.

DAN RAYBURN: So even if you save money on TV, the ISP, or Internet Service Provider, knows that you still need your connection to the internet. So the price typically goes up for that.

TONYA FRANCISCO: You miss out on some of the premium content if you don't sign up for these streaming services, right?

DAN RAYBURN: Each company is taking a bit of a different approach here. But from a consumer standpoint, it can be confusing to know what content is available on what device, at what time, at what price point. Is it free? Is it ad-supported? Is it subscription? Is there a monthly price? Is it a yearly price? It varies.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Some people are choosing to go old school by going back to an antenna to get free over-the-air signal.

DAN RAYBURN: Depending on where you live just determines which channels you can actually get over the air. You can't get everything, even if you're in a major metropolitan city. So there's definitely some limitations there.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Some Facebook friends say it's all too confusing.

SUE SCHILLACI TUHACEK: We've definitely tried it. Biggest problem is we can't seem to find a streaming service that has WGN! We've even purchased an antenna but that was very glitchy! Went back to cable as a result.

MARY ELLEN TOLIAN: It seems like you're trading one big bill for a bunch of smaller bills that add up to a big bill + a good deal of hand's on adjusting.

JOHN MORAN: We have the streaming services but we still have cable as well. Someone tell me what to do!

DAN RAYBURN: It's not a one size fits all model. It's a matter of figuring out your budget, the content you and your family likes, and then what makes the most sense in terms of how you want to consume it.

TONYA FRANCISCO: What does the future look like for all of this?

DAN RAYBURN: So the future is what you see right now.

- If it's on your TV, it's on, live or recorded.

DAN RAYBURN: There's not going to be one company that aggregates, as we call it, all these different services and to just one place where you pay one price to get everything.

TONYA FRANCISCO: Bottom line, it's going to be expensive to watch TV going forward, whether it's cable or streaming. It's all about the experience you want to have.