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What to consider before cutting the cord and converting to streaming

What to consider before cutting the cord and converting to streaming
What to consider before cutting the cord and converting to streaming 02:47

The choices seem endless between streaming and cable with remotes and budgets struggling to navigate the sea of possibilities. 

"It was Time Warner first. And then when I moved into this building it was Direct TV," said resident Lisa Linares. 

But now, Linares is clicking around cable-free, saying goodbye to the box and hello to streaming. 

"Youtube TV comes up and you just click on it," she said. 

Young woman watching video on demand on her TV
Cutting the cord may seem cheaper on paper, but experts say there are more aspects consumers should consider before making the change. Getty Images/iStockphoto

For her, the reason was simple she wanted to make a drastic cut to her costs. 

"I was just looking for something less than $120 a month," Linares said. "Youtube was $65 a month."

After cutting her TV budget in half, Linares said she was very pleased with her move. However, depending on your viewing habits streaming may not always be the most cost-effective.

"You could be saving $100 a month but it can add up quickly to $100 or more," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist from Loyola Marymount University. "It's not entirely clear at the end of the day that you may be saving money."

Sohn added that switching to solely streaming requires internet access with an adequate bandwidth. Not to be confused with internet speed, bandwidth measures the amount of data that can be relayed over an internet connection in a certain duration. 

If you look at internet prices in the LA area, Spectrum offers services starting at $80 a month. AT&T has a slower option starting at $55 a month. In Linares' case, she pays around $100 just for her connection. Then you need to add on the streaming services — and if you want live streaming it's even more. As of writing, YouTube TV is $65 a month, Hulu Live is $69.99, while Fubo and Vidgo start at more than $70.

"Sometimes you need new equipment to plug into the TV so new equipment can cost $30-$100," said Sohn. 

In comparison, Spectrum offers hundreds of channels for local TV and 15 additional networks for $49.99 a month. 

Experts said before you cancel your services you should t talk to your provider to see if they have something better for your budget and look at all the streaming services you need to get the shows you want. 

"I just go to live and all my channels are there," said Linares. 

As for Linares, she already had a Smart TV so she didn't need to buy anything. But since she's expecting to save more than $600 this year, she says she'll now have the cash to upgrade the TV in the future. 

  "I'm definitely a happier streamer than I am a subscriber," said Linares.

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