The Price of Cable

Ever since I’ve lived on my own, I haven’t paid for cable. Instead, I’ve relied on internet services to provide the video content I desire1.

The other day, I was re-evaluating my subscriptions to see if there are any I should be cancelling. Note that for my budgeting purposes2, a subscription is, broadly speaking, any regularly occurring expense outside of utilities and rent, including online video services. Here are my current subscriptions (all converted to per month cost):

  • $9.00 - Amazon Prime
  • $7.92 - Backblaze online backup
  • $2.08 - Flickr
  • $15.00 - HBO Now
  • $3.75 - Hover (3 domain names)
  • $12.50 - Linode VPS
  • $6.00 - MotorTrend on Demand
  • $9.00 - Netflix
  • $3.33 - Plex Pass
  • $5.00 - PO Box (USPS)
  • $3.33 - Washington Trails Association
  • $13.00 - YouTube Red

Total subscription cost per month: $89.91.

Looking at that amount, I realized many people pay that much (or more) for cable alone. Taking just the services I’m subscribed to that provide streamed video content (marked with bold above), I’m paying $52.

Of course, it’s fuzzier than that. I originally subscribed to Amazon Prime for the savings on shipping; from my perspective, the video content is free. I pay for YouTube Red to get rid of the advertisements in front of otherwise free videos, not for original content produced by YouTube. Totaling up the services that I pay for actual video content - Netflix, MotorTrend on Demand and HBO Now - I’m only paying $30 per month.

Compared to cable, that seems like a pretty good deal to me. However, there are additional benefits. I can watch shows:

  • on my own schedule, without the hassle and restrictions of DVR.
  • without being interrupted by advertisements.
  • on any device I own.
  • offline with many of the services.

If you live in the United States, there isn’t a better time to drop cable and save some money. If you’re in another country, things are moving in the right direction, albeit at a slower rate. If you can’t switch now, give it some time and I expect things will continue to improve as many of the video services produce their own content, which they are making available around the world.

  1. Technically I paid for cable as part of a bundle with my internet for a while, but I disconnected my cable box shortly after setting it up. ↩︎

  2. One day I hope to blog about my budgeting system, but that’s for another time. ↩︎