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Cost of cable vs. streaming: Which is cheaper?

Camryn Smith

Jul 14, 2023 — 3 min read

Is streaming really cheaper than cable? We outline the costs of cable and streaming services so you can decide if cutting the cord is right for you.

remote pointing at tv

Key findings

  • 85% of U.S. households have at least one video streaming service subscription.
  • The streaming industry is expected to be worth over $400 billion by 2030.
  • The number of cable TV subscribers has decreased to 72.2 million from 98.7 million in 2016.

Streaming services have taken the world by storm in recent years, leaving many to decide whether they should cut the cord or stick with cable TV.

85% of U.S. households have at least one video streaming service subscription and the streaming industry is expected to be worth over $400 billion by 2030. The number of cable TV subscribers has also decreased by 26.5 million since 2016 – it’s safe to say many are choosing to say goodbye to hefty cable bills in favor of streaming subscriptions. 

But is subscribing to streaming platforms really cheaper than cable TV service? We’ll break down the cost of streaming vs. cable so you can decide for yourself. 

Advantages and disadvantages of cable vs. streaming

Streaming pros and cons

  • Cost: Streaming services are often cheaper than cable TV. You can choose from a variety of streaming services and only pay for the ones you want with no added broadcasting or equipment fees, which can save you money in the long run.

  • Flexibility: With streaming, you can watch your favorite shows and movies whenever you want on multiple devices.

  • No contracts: Most streaming services don’t require a contract, so you can cancel without penalty. 

  • Live TV and DVR options: You can watch live TV with some streaming platforms, so you’re able to get the channels available with cable for a cheaper price and with DVR capabilities. 

  • Internet connection: You need a reliable internet connection for streaming, especially if you are using multiple devices with more than one user in your home.

  • Content restrictions: Different streaming platforms offer different content, so some shows and movies may not be available depending on which service you have. You may need to subscribe to multiple platforms to get the content you want which will cost more. 


Cable pros and cons

  • Channel selection: Cable TV offers a wide range of channels, including live sports and news, that may not be available with streaming services.

  • Reliable service: Unlike streaming, cable TV does not rely on your internet connection so you can watch your favorite shows and movies with no buffering or poor video quality.

  • DVR: With cable, you can record and watch your favorite shows and movies later. 

  • Bundling opportunities: You may save on your cable TV and internet plan by bundling the services


  • Cost: Cable TV has more expensive starting prices and charges many extra fees. 

  • Limited flexibility: With cable, you’re limited to watching shows and movies on the provider’s schedule.

  • Added fees: Cable TV services charge hefty equipment and broadcast fees that can add to your monthly bill. 



To compare the costs of cable vs. streaming, we looked at the monthly cost of popular streaming platforms and cable TV providers with pricing sourced directly from providers. We factored in the added cost of an internet plan using Consumer Reports’ median cost of internet at $74.99/mo.

cable vs. streaming

Cable vs. streaming overview 

Below we’ve outlined the monthly cost ranges of cable and streaming services. We also included the added cost of an internet plan that adds to the monthly cost of each service. Keep in mind that these price ranges do not include taxes and extra fees. 

Streaming cost overview

The different plan prices of popular streaming services Netflix, Disney+, Max and Hulu are listed below. The most basic plans with ads start as low as $6.99/mo., with ad free plans ranging from $9.99 – $19.99/mo. We’ve included a column with the price range of each service and its plans with the median cost of internet ($74.99/mo.). 

The cheapest combination of internet and a streaming service is with Netflix’s cheapest plan with ads and the monthly total is about $82/mo. The most expensive streaming service plan we listed is with Netflix or Max at $19.99/mo. on its own. With an internet plan, the cost comes to about $95/mo. 

If you subscribe to only one streaming service, the monthly cost is actually quite low compared to cable TV costs. The monthly cost with streaming starts to increase once you subscribe to more than one service at a time, which is common when considering the different content offered with each. 

These are a few service combination options. Competing streaming services are often priced similarly, so you can get a good idea of what you’ll be paying monthly with more than one service.

Live TV

One of the main reasons people cut the cord is because of the Live TV options available with streaming services. Platforms like Hulu and YouTube TV are becoming very popular for cord cutters because they don’t involve the extra fees common with cable. 

Cable cost overview

The cable TV services below have plans ranging from $20.00 – $139.00/mo., not including added fees or the cost of an internet plan. We’ve included the price range for these plans with the median cost of internet added ($74.99/mo.). 

Additional costs with cable 

The major downside of cable TV are the extra fees. Outside of your plan cost, expect to pay fees for regional sports and broadcast TV, equipment and other local taxes and fees. These costs vary by provider and location, but you can expect your monthly bill to be higher than your plan’s initial cost.

Cable TV fees could add up to $60 to your monthly bill, and if you want premium channel add-ons, expect to pay between $5 – $15/mo. 

So, which is the cheapest? 

When you consider the slew of added fees with cable and the higher overall starting prices, streaming is the cheapest option, even with the cost of an internet plan or with Live TV. 

Live TV services with streaming gives you the option to watch the channels you’d get with cable but at a base price with no added local broadcast fees. 

For more broadband data reports, visit our Research Hub.

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Illustration of a father and daughter in a living room. The father is sitting in an armchair and reading a newspaper, and the daughter is playing with a toy on the floor.
Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Associate Writer

Camryn Smith is an Associate Writer with Allconnect.com. She specializes in writing about the broadband industry and helping consumers navigate complex internet service purchasing decisions…. Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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