Is TV on the internet still cheaper than cable?

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Image: Shutterstock / Pavel Ryabushkin

If you pay around $100 a month, you can get old-fashioned cable: every channel, even the ones you don’t want, all bundled together.

For just $10 a month, you can get all of Netflix. But is it really that cheapand is it enough?

Streaming costs are inching upward as streaming services become more competitive with each other and media companies that want a piece of the action break off to launch their own versions. This week, Disney announced it would rip most of its movies off Netflix and launch its own streaming platform in 2019. Along with that, Disney will introduce a streaming service for its other main asset, ESPN.

Before you know it, you could be paying as much as you would for cable to live life as a cordcutter. So what does that $100 actually get you?

Internet: $45 a month

Before you can actually stream anything, you need internet. It’s non-negotiable, so unless you’re stealing service from a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, this is part of the streaming budget. Introductory internet packages cost around $45 a month depending on location, and costs can go upward from there. That leaves just over $50 a month for the actual streaming services.

Netflix: $9.99 a month

The OG streaming service is basically a requirement for any cord-cutter. A standard Netflix plan costs $9.99 a month. You can sometimes get a $7.99 plan, or you can pay $11.99 for the ability to watch on extra screens and in ultra HD.

Two variables here: Netflix has making a lot of original stuff, but companies like Disney are starting to move away from its platform, meaning it’s not quite the one-stop destination it used to be.

Hulu: $7.99 a month

A basic Hulu plan costs $7.99 a month. That’s with commercials, but for the full Hulu Plus maybe-even-replace-Netflix experience, you can pay $11.99 a month for no commercials. Hulu is the essential streaming service for watching shows that are currently on the air on regular channels, and it comes with a back catalog of off-air shows to rival Netflix’s.

And if you’re missing your TV bundle, you can get one from Hulu for $40. Sling TV provides a slimmer, cheaper options for $20.

HBO: $14.99 a month

To stay up to date on Game of Thrones and Insecure, you’ll need HBO. HBO NOW, the streaming option that doesn’t require a TV package, costs $14.99 a month. You can also get HBO as an add-on to your Hulu subscription, costing the same $14.99 a month. That’s more than you’re paying for Hulu in the first place.

Amazon Prime Video: $8.25 a month

For Catastrophe and Mozart in the Jungle, you need Amazon. Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, so that makes the monthly cost $8.25. Of course, with that $8.25 a month, you’re also getting two-day delivery on most everything you’d buy on Amazona perk outside the streaming budget. But if you only wanted to subscribe to Prime for its streaming capabilities, you’d still have to pay the full $99.

CBS All Access: $5.99 a month

The streaming platform of choice for Good Wife fans, CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month with commercials or $9.99 a month without. One of the first networks to try its own standalone streaming service, the platform has exclusive access to the Good Wife spinoff The Good Fight, plus CBS’s other shows and NFL games. The micro-streaming option also hints at what to expect in the future, including from Disney.

Disney: $10?

Disney’s coming-in-2019 streaming option doesn’t have a price tag yet. It’s hard to picture how essential it’ll feel to subscribe to a Disney-only streaming platform. If you use Netflix in part to watch movies with your kids, it might be pretty necessary. And it’ll be at least another $10.

ESPN: $10???

Disney’s 2019 move away from Netflix also means Disney-owned ESPN is getting its own streaming platform. ESPN has been a financial anchor of cable for a while now, so a streaming option is a big deal.

It’ll probably be pricyand the only way to stream sports. It’s also reportedly going to be missing a lot of ESPN’s best live sports including NBA and NFL.

The budget: Ok now, expensive soon

In 2017, a streaming budget still comes in under typical cable costs at about $92.21. That’s not bad compared to an average $100 cable bill that usually includes internet access. It’s also worth noting that plenty of people play that bill and subscribe to a streaming service or two as well as Amazon Prime.

But by 2019, those costs will likely balloon. Adding at least an extra $20 a month for Disney and ESPN streamingand probably much more than that, considering Disney’s monopoly on those in-demand categorieswill bring the bill within pennies of cable costs, and probably over them.

And there’s always the concern that Netflix and other services could eventually raise their prices.

Consumers are arguably getting much more power here to choose what they want, but streaming is already at the point where getting everything isn’t much of a deal. Cord-cutters will have to start picking and choosing if they want to keep costs significantly lower than what they’d pay for cablebut that’s the point. Cable didn’t offer those options (though they’ve started to recently).

For now, cordcutting is still worth it. But it won’t be for long. Save an extra $10 or $20 a month while you can.

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