Why I Haven't Had Cable TV Since College and Won't Get it Again

There always seems to be someone around me that's considering saying goodbye to their cable TV subscription. "It's just so expensive these days," most people say. And believe me, I know. I felt like it was crazy expensive when I paid for it over three years ago, and the price tags have only risen since then.

According to Fortune, the average price for cable TV in America rose over the $99/month bar in 2015. That's not including whatever internet or phone bundling gets added on top of that. When I first looked at that number, I thought it was insane. Paying that much for TV seemed ridiculous. But then I started to consider how many internet-based streaming services I use. Honestly, there's quite a few. So I started to wonder exactly how much I was paying for my version of TV and if it really WAS cheaper than cable.

So How Much DOES It All Cost?

Here's a list of all the services I have and how much they cost a month. Full disclosure, I don't actually pay for Netflix (shoutout to my parents for letting me leech off of their account), but I included the price here anyway as a reference.

I used to also have a Viki Pass subscription, which was $4.99/month, and have considered several times getting a Crunchyroll or Funimation subscription, either of which is about $6-7/month.

Adding all of that together, we're looking at a grand total of $40 to $45 each month.

Cable fees also factor in things like hardware "rental" costs, since you need that silly box and remote to actually watch anything. Streaming, on the other hand, only requires an internet connection and either a Smart TV or streaming device like Chromecast or Apple TV. You can get a Chromecast pretty much anywhere for a one-time fee of $35, so consider the hardware a basically inconsequential charge.

Why Stream?

Honestly, I don't really need to watch TV live unless I want to watch something like a sporting event or network competition show that I just can't wait for it to be uploaded the next day. Even then, there are plenty of streaming services like YouTube TV and Sling that offer live channels for low monthly prices ($35/month and $20/month respectively). Those services usually also offer DVR-style capabilities, which means you can watch whatever airs whenever you want at a lower price.

The ability to watch whenever I want is just part of the perk, though. After all, DVR has been a thing for a long time and it pretty standard in any basic cable TV plan these days. No, what I really like is that I'm not paying for a bunch of channels that I never want. When I had cable TV in college, I think I watched a total of 10 channels out of the entire 100+ listing that we had available. A majority of the time, people just don't watch a majority of what they have and paying basically $100/month for something you only watch maybe 10% of is insane.

That's not to say I watch everything that Netflix or Hulu has to offer. That would take basically my entire life and then some. But paying $10 or $15 for an equally large array of options is a much more manageable price.

Plus, paying lower prices also means I have more room to tack on additional subscriptions for things that I want. Streaming prices make your viewing experience more customizable than cable TV does. I can pay for the most basic Netflix and Hulu packages, which gets me plenty of American TV and movies, then tack on things like Crunchyroll or DramaFever for my international viewing pleasure, all in a way that won't empty my wallet.

So It's About Choice?

Exactly! Cable TV was fine when I had it, but when I can get basically the same selection plus some extras for half the price, it's a no-brainer that I'm going to go with the cheaper option. After all, I like to save up for things like traveling and home upgrades. Spending more to have an ugly box and unnecessarily complicated remote sitting in my living room just isn't appealing.