The amount of available options today for viewing your favorite TV shows is seemingly limitless.
You’ve got multiple cable providers, including Spectrum, DirecTV, Cox, Xfinity, YouTubeTV and Hulu. There are also several streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO NOW, ESPN+ and Hulu (again).
It is easy to find ways to watch all your favorite movies and TV shows. But what is not easy is deciding which services to use and whether you prefer to use cable or stream exclusively, or mix the two.
There’s not a clear answer to whether cable or streaming is better. My apartment has both, with several streaming services available to us in addition to cable. But there are plenty of people who decide between the two.
So before you decide to “cut the cord” and Netflix and chill, it is important to get an idea of the pros and cons of both cable and streaming.
The easiest pro to point out with regard to cable is the availability of channels. Choose cable and all local television channels such as ABC, CBS and FOX will be available, plus other channels such as ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, E! Entertainment, Spike, etc. The availability of options is endless. Forget missing your favorite sporting events or the news: It’s all there.
Depending on your setup, you should also be able to record television shows to watch them later. And with your cable subscription, you can log in to many of the channels’ websites and watch the shows if you missed the live airing. Like streaming, you can also watch them on other devices.
However, cable is typically more expensive. Even though the various streaming services can add up over time, cable is a big monthly expenditure, costing anywhere between $50 and $120, depending on your provider. If you want premium channels like Showtime and HBO, expect to pay more. If you’re like me, you don’t need channels like E! Entertainment or Spike. I’m happy watching my favorite shows on Netflix, Hulu and HBO NOW without breaking the bank every month.
There’s also *gasp* commercials. Something we all were so accustomed to growing up now seems to be an annoying waste of time, except during the Super Bowl when they might supply the occasional laugh. When streaming, commercials won’t slow down your viewing experience.
Let’s be real. Every show that you will ever want or need to watch is available on some streaming service. Netflix, Hulu and HBO dominate the Emmys annually and produce some of today’s most popular shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” “House of Cards” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while also offering other hits like “Breaking Bad,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Walking Dead.”
The movie options provided are not too bad either, with a rotating selection of movies on all streaming services, including ,recent Star Wars films, comic book movies and shows, the “Godfather” movies and several Academy Award winners. While TV channels will occasionally air solid films, you have to suffer through the commercials and the selection can often be poor.
But, if you’re like me, you love to watch live sporting events. And if there’s one thing streaming services do not regularly offer, it’s live sporting events. Sure, you can subscribe to ESPN+ or add channels on Hulu, but they all start to add up. While they offer TV shows, if you want to watch them live, these services will not benefit you.
While streaming can be less expensive than cable, the cost accumulates over time. Sure Netflix costs as little as $7.99 a month, but then add your HBO NOW subscription at $15.99 a month, Hulu for $7.99 and ESPN+ for $5.99 — you’re already up to $37.96 — not to mention some of the streaming services raise prices continually. Then if you want to stream those precious sports or add a couple other channels, the prices really start to skyrocket.