The Costs of Cutting Cable for Streaming Services, Live TV, and More

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated November 12, 2021
Two friends watching tv
Photo: DavidPrado / Adobe Stock

The average cost of cable is $80 per month vs. the average cost of cable alternatives coming in at $40 per month

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Watching TV is one of the few pastimes that most homeowners love to enjoy at the end of a long day. But without a doubt, paying for cable television that comes with hidden fees and contracts can feel tiring. And if you’re over them too and are looking to cut your cable cost, you’re in the right place.

On average, homeowners pay $40 per month on cable alternatives. But wanting live TV, a DVR option, and needing multiple screens at once can change the cost.

How Much Does Cable Cost?

Cable TV costs $80 per month on average for cable TV and the equipment that cable providers rent to homeowners. While the cost depends on the provider and the cable plan, that’s the typical price homeowners pay to access some of the most popular TV channels. But wanting more premium channels can increase the monthly price to well over $130 per month, not including equipment fees.

How Much Does Cutting Cable Cost?

The average cost for a cable alternative is $40 per month. However, there are individual factors that can dramatically impact the final cost. Overall, homeowners typically pay anywhere from free to $160 a month on cable alternatives.

What Can I Get With My Budget?

Everyone has a budget they’re comfortable with when it comes to watching television. And while different budget ranges offer various features and add-ons, there’s something for everyone. Below we’ll discuss what you can expect to get from your budget.


There’s no better budget option than the free one. If you’re looking to cut cable costs completely, there are some free streaming apps that you can use to watch your shows. It’s usually specific networks like the CW that contain ads, and some services limit how many episodes you can access. But for the price, it’s a good budget-friendly way to start your cord-cutting journey and see what works for you.


Some of the most popular on-demand streaming services—Hulu and Netflix—offer plans that are under $10 a month. Though you’ll be limited on features like how many devices you can watch it on and video quality, you will have access to an extensive content library.


For $20 every month, you’ll have a little more flexibility with same-time streaming devices, video quality, ad-free content, and even streaming bundles.


If you have $50 to spend each month on kicking cable to the curve, you can access some live TV streaming options with limited channels. Also, at this price point, you can subscribe to a few network-specific streaming services if you only plan on watching specific shows and still have room in your budget for more.


Some of the more premium live TV streaming services are available at or below $75 a month. You’ll get multiple accounts you can add per household, hours—maybe even unlimited—DVR storage space with fast forward, rewind, and pause capabilities.


While it’s similar to the above option, a $100 budget will let you customize your streaming experience more by adding premium networks like HBO and Starz to your live TV subscription.

Non-Cable Costs by Type

There are multiple ways you can save on cable costs; below, we’ll cover some of the top ones.


If you’re looking to cut cable costs and keep your TV excursions simple, you can purchase an antenna. They can cost $10 to $150 depending on how many TVs you need to connect. But after that initial fee, you don’t have to pay for the television channels you can catch because they’re free.

On-Demand Streaming

On-demand streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix, let you watch hundreds of different shows. You don’t have to wait for a particular time. You can watch whatever they offer, whenever you want, particularly if you have a Smart 4K TV. On average, paying for this service can cost $5 to $20 per month.

Live TV Streaming

If you’re tired of hidden fees and being tied down to a contract but love to flip between channels, there’s always live TV streaming. It’s very similar to cable where you can access multiple channels, catch your favorite shows (sports, anyone?) live, and record them to watch later. You can expect to pay $25 to $65 a month, up to $160 for this service.

Free Streaming

If you’re trying to forgo it all, it’s possible to stream some networks for free. However, it has many more restrictions than its paid counterparts. But if you’re comfortable catching a few shows with limited access, then can you really beat free?

What Factors Influence the Cost of Streaming TV

These factors play a major role in what a homeowner pays for a cable alternative, and we’re diving into them here.


Most streaming services limit the number of devices you can stream on. If you need multiple devices to stream on, you’ll pay more for this service. But as a bonus, increasing your plan to get access to more users also means you’ll get access to additional features like high-quality videos.

DVR Option

Some live TV streaming options charge you for DVR access, while others like YouTube TV include it in their subscription price. However, if you’re interested in a different platform, then whether or not you’ll need a DVR add-on will impact the price you pay.


Cable providers typically offer hundreds of networks from local channels to premium and sports. And depending on what networks you’ll want, you might pay to access each one.


Some on-demand streaming services are ad-free, but other basic plans use ads. If you’re looking for an ad-free experience with on-demand or live TV streaming, you’ll need to pay extra.

Video Quality

Again, each streaming platform is different. Some will give you access to the best video quality they offer, but others will charge you more for it.

Bundle Deals

If you want to watch a few different networks, you probably can save money if they offer a bundle deal. While not all of them do, checking around to see who does can save you a few bucks.


What do I need to use streaming services?

To replace your cable services with streaming ones, you’ll need a stable internet connection, a streaming device, and a streaming service—that’s it!

Am I locked into a contract with streaming services?

Absolutely not. That’s one of the perks of streaming services. You don’t have to wait a year or two before trying another service. The majority of them are offered monthly, so you can cancel whenever you’re ready.

Can using a cable alternative save me money?

Yes, but it depends on the services you use. As we mentioned earlier, you can spend $160 a month on streaming services. The best way to save money when cutting cable costs is by being honest about your needs and how they align with your options.

Do you use your DVR? Do ads bother you, or do you use them for a mini-bathroom break? What about channels? Are you a surfer, or do you stick with a few? Of course, these aren’t all the factors that play a role in how much money you can save by cutting cable costs, but they can help you see what you can prioritize.

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