Cord-cutting—the act of ditching traditional cable TV—has been gaining popularity for over a decade. Streaming is great, but it’s not the home run it used to be. In fact, I made the decision to switch back to cable.
Streaming TV in the Early Days
The rise of streaming live TV services came at a perfect time for me. I was living on my own for the first time, and cable wasn’t something I wanted to deal with. When Sling TV was announced, I was very excited, and I signed up immediately,
Since then, I’ve used just about every streaming TV service you can imagine. Sling TV, Hulu Live, Playstation Vue (RIP), YouTube TV, and some of the smaller services. My experience with most of these services has been very positive.
The early days of streaming live TV was great. The channel packages were small and very affordable. Most services let you choose from add-on bundles to expand your channel list. It was pretty easy to get the channels you wanted without much extra “fluff” jammed in.
However, in the years since, I’ve watched as these services have ballooned in channel lineup size and price. The dream of “al la carte TV” never really materialized. This brings us to today, where streaming live TV is not much different than cable TV.
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Back to Cable
Sadly, I live in an area where Comcast is essentially my only option for fast internet. For a long time, I’ve had an internet-only plan from Comcast and a couple of streaming services, like Disney+ and Netflix. For live TV, I typically get YouTube TV or Sling TV during sports seasons.
At the time of writing, my Sling TV bill has risen to $65 per month to get all the channels I want. It’s the same price for YouTube TV. That is not cheap, and it got me thinking about how much cable TV costs. I hadn’t looked into it in a long time.
To my surprise, I discovered I could save a whopping $30 per month (taxes and fees included) by ditching Sling TV and adding a TV package to my internet package. Ah, but I’ll need a clunky cable box again, right? Turns out Comcast finally gives you the option to only use the Xfinity Stream app.
As much as I don’t like Comcast, it was hard to pass up this deal. I could get the same channels I had, save $30 per month, and still watch it on my phone or smart TV—no extra hardware required. I never thought I would say this, but I am a cable TV customer again.
Is Cable TV Better Than Streaming?
It may sound like I’m giving cable TV a glowing endorsement, but that is not the case. This is more of a condemnation of the state of streaming live TV services. It’s gotten to the point where cable TV is the more appealing option.
Those early days of getting a small bundle of TV channels are long gone. Even Sling TV’s smallest package has over 30 channels now. And these services are proud of that fact—that’s what they advertise. It’s a competition to get the most channels, just like cable TV.
The last thing that was saving streaming TV for me was the ability to use apps rather than cable boxes and awful TV guide interfaces. But now that some cable companies don’t require you to use hardware, that benefit is gone, too.
I’m not happy about switching back to cable. I wanted streaming live TV to be better than it turned out to be. Unfortunately, it was probably never going to be the savior we thought it would be. All hail the cable companies.