Into The Stream: One Person’s Journey to Cutting the Cord

a hand on a remote control interacting with Netflix on a tv screen

When I recently moved into my new apartment in New York City, the first thing I did was to buy two 55” Samsung 4K smart TV’s. I didn’t even have a bed or a chair, but my priorities are my priorities.

For the first time, I chose not to buy cable with my Wi-Fi package. 

In the past, it has been typical to purchase a cable bundle with a landline and a Wi-Fi router.  But I didn’t want to pay for a bunch of channels I’d never watch and have a wired phone I’d never use. So I saved myself at least $50.00/month and only had a powerful modem installed for $49.95/month.

Now to take advantage of the great new TV’s, I needed to connect to content providers I like. I already have an account with Amazon Prime and Netflix, so that was a no brainer.  In order to get sports and local news, I added a high-end digital antenna. This gives me an uncompressed HD quality video, so OK there. The next add-on was an Apple+ account and Disney+ (I am hooked on “The Morning Show,” and “The Mandalorian.”). And I’m not alone.

Streaming made up 19% of TV viewing in OTT US homes during 4Q19, according to Nielsen’s new Total Audience Report. Netflix accounted for 31% of that streaming time, followed by 21% for YouTube, 12% for Hulu, 8% for Amazon, and 28% for other services. The report found 91% of respondents subscribed to a paid streaming service, with 30% subscribing to three or more. And there was no shortage of content – Nielsen found that in December 2019, US consumers had access to over 646,000 unique program titles, an increase of 10% from all of 2018.

Just take a look at how may people have multiple streaming subscriptions:

Chart breaking down video streaming subscriptions by age

So, there you have it. Great content at half the price of cable. Or is it?

Let’s assume for a moment that I didn’t already have the memberships I mentioned…what is the real cost of my video content?

Netflix: $9.00-$16.00 depending on how many screens you want to watch on and whether you need 4K 

Amazon Prime: $13.00/month or $120.00/year

Disney+: $7.00/month or $70.00/year

Apple+ $4.99/month after a 7-day free trial

That comes to around $40.00/month, not including the $50.00 for the two digital antennas.  That’s $10.00 less than the traditional cable bundle per month. A mighty fine tradeoff for the content I want, when I want it (The OTT Promise).

But wait…there could be much more.

Let’s say I want to add Hulu, $6.00 or $12.00 without ads. Live plans start at $45.00. HBO Now is another $15.00/month, Showtime is $15.00/month, and CBS All Access is another $6.00-$10.00 without ads.

If you choose them all, you’re looking at $75.00 and $80.00/month, and that doesn’t even account for all the new services I will probably want in the coming years. Peacock from NBC being one of those. 

Gone are the great savings.

But that’s just me.

Some people play OTT Roulette, whereby you order any service for the lowest amount on the introductory offer, then choose not to keep it…moving on to another service using the same strategy. You could conceivably go through everything in a couple of months and start all over again (unless you get caught and canceled for life).

But that seems like a lot of work.

In the end, you really should focus on just the things you want, get great content, and save a lot of money. Or you can get right back into the bundling philosophy and buy a bunch of stuff you’ll never watch.

Happy Streaming.

By the way, catch me and a gang from Disney, Viacom, Accenture, and Areu Bros Studios in Atlanta, for a great discussion about streaming, at the SCAD ATVFest in February.