Remember when cutting the cord and streaming was a great way to slash that cable bill? That’s so 2010.
Jennifer Taylor says her streaming bill is now out of control.
“It keeps getting more and more expensive,” she said, “paying for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and having cable, so it’s really expensive now.”
She’s right. Have you checked your internet and streaming bill lately?
The soaring cost of streaming
Start with high-speed internet, which is now $60 a month with Spectrum and most other services unless you are on a one-year promotion.
Now add Hulu + Live, YouTube TV or AT&T NOW (formerly DirecTV NOW), which essentially replace a full cable package. But they have recently gone up to $65 a month, or $55 in the case of AT&T, hardly a bargain.
On top of that, almost everyone wants Netflix, now $14 a month (recently up from $13), and Disney+ at $7 (rising to $8 in March).
You are now paying almost $150 a month, which is probably what you were paying for your cable package a couple of years ago.
Ashlynn Igel is a streaming customer who had enough.
“My bill was getting up there,” she said. “Absolutely, $9.99 for one service, $15.99 for another, and by the time you know it you are upwards of $50 or $60 a month on top of your internet.”
The number of new streaming services that have popped up in recent years is mind-boggling.
And if you have a smart TV, they are all on your home screen to entice you to sign up.
Just two years ago, we didn’t have Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Peacock or the brand new Discovery+ service, which include favorite channels Food Network, Animal Planet and HGTV.
It’s tough to say no to all that.
How to lower your streaming bill
So, with the help of the tech guide CNET, we looked into ways to slash that streaming bill and still have access to most programs.
The first thing you need to do?
CNET suggests you drop services you rarely use. Then, try to bundle some of the others.
Ashlynn Igel decided to go with the Disney+ and basic Hulu bundle for $14 a month, and is already enjoying the savings.
“We were able to see that Disney+ was going to be in a bundle with Hulu and ESPN for a way cheaper amount for all three,” she said.
She now gets everything Disney, many cable shows on Hulu (though with ads), and most ESPN sports shows.
CNET says if Hulu or YouTube’s premium services are getting too high, consider a budget streaming service like Sling TV, at just $30 a month.
Don’t watch much Netflix anymore? Drop that $14 charge, and replace it with a couple of free movie streamers like Sony Crackle or Pluto. Each streams hundreds of older movies at no cost.
Pam Matthews loves Pluto.
“It’s absolutely free,” she said.
This ad-supported service features mostly older movies and TV shows. We found her watching James Bond movies during a recent lunch break at work.
She tells co-workers it is the best deal around.
“I said drop it! Just get rid of it and use Pluto TV, and save how much money a month, you know?”
Read CNET’s report on the best free streaming services here. And read our own Don’t Waste Your Money guide to determining which streaming service is right for you.
Slim bundle that may work for many people
So instead of paying $150 a month for internet and streaming, consider subscribing to:
- Netflix Standard: $14
- Disney+ with ad-supported Hulu and ESPN: $14
- Discovery+ with HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Animal Planet: $7
- Basic Peacock, for “The Office” and other older network shows: Free. (You can watch “The Office” seasons 1-2 for free, seasons 3-9 require the $9 a month Peacock Premium service).
- Crackle and Pluto for old movies: Free
- And local channels on an antenna: Free.
Total: just $35 a month. Plus your internet cost, of course.
Other options worth considering
If you want a cable package on a budget, with dozens of channels, CNET says consider Sling for $30 or Philo for $20 a month.
CNET says Sling has the advantage in offering network channels and sports, where Philo is mostly for entertainment and reality channels.
And if you want the latest Warner Bros. blockbusters, HBO shows like “Game of Thrones” and reruns of “Friends,” consider HBO Max for $15 a month.
But remember that every paid service increases your bill by another $15 or so a month, on average. So choose sparingly. That way you don’t waste your money.