The Pros and Cons of Cutting Cable
With that in mind, have you taken a close look at your cable bill lately? Unless you moved recently, chances are you haven't changed your subscription. And if you have the same service as a few years ago, your cable costs have likely increased. Before the fall season begins, now is a good time to evaluate whether your shows are worth the expense.
Consider how much you spend each month versus how much of your cable subscription you use. Are you watching all the channels you pay for or just flipping between the same 20 options?
If you're happy paying the bill every month for what you watch, and aren't willing to give up access to all cable has to offer, then canceling might not be the best option for you. Before you decide, consider a few pros and cons of cutting the cord:
When you cancel your cable subscription, the first obvious benefit is saving money. And the savings don't mean you have to sacrifice your favorite shows.
There are tons of streaming services and devices on the market that make it easier to cut ties with cable, especially when devices connect to the Internet and provide instant access to your must-see shows. With so many options, you may want to use an app like Yidio which can help you find a show or movie and see whether it's available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes (all cheaper options than or cable) or through free online streaming.
For some people, there is another unexpected benefit of canceling cable. Instead of flipping on the television and watching whatever is on (sometimes for longer than intended), watching TV becomes a more intentional act. If you're looking to spend less time in front of a screen, this is a plus.
There are a few cons to cutting your ties with cable, depending on your viewing preferences. One major change is losing access to live coverage of news and sports.
This can easily be remedied with the Internet's myriad sources of news and live streaming of major events. However, watching sports coverage sometimes requires a workaround when you don't have cable. With the exception of national games aired on major networks (which stream online for free), you won't have access to the live sports coverage on ESPN and other cable channels.
Another consideration: If you follow local sports teams, you'll likely be part of blackout restrictions and won't be able to stream those games online.
One more con for dedicated viewers is the delay of watching current television series. If you're waiting for a season to be uploaded to Netflix, it can be difficult to avoid spoilers for those months in between. For hard core fans, even waiting to watch a new episode a few days later can be a challenge.
Lastly, there is some content that is still "cable-locked" -- HBO used to be one such network with limited access, but recently unveiled a new HBO Now service for people who don't have a cable subscription. Other channels like Showtime and AMC haven't yet relinquished their newer episodes to streaming.
Making the Decision
With all the options available, you might find a new setup confusing and not worth the effort. On the other hand, if you can find a setup that works for you, it can be a new and improved level of convenience -- a TV watching experience that is catered to your personal preferences.
For those afraid of cutting the cord entirely, try "cord shaving," and just cut back on your cable subscription for a cheaper bill that still allows access to some channels. It's all about finding what works for your household and your budget.
Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $27 an order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 4,000 stores.