Cable TV versus streaming services: Which is the best deal for you?
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Cable and satellite TV have long been the main forms of television services. But now you can also watch movies, television programs and sporting events through Internet services. These streaming services increase options for television viewers; however, deciding which format is best for you can be a challenge.
Consumer Reports identified some of the pros and cons of cable versus streaming for accessing television programming.
- Convenient billing. If you get both television and Internet access from your cable company, it will come on one bill.
- Familiarity. Program guides and channels are organized in a familiar pattern, making it easier for you to find programs you want to watch.
- New, lower-priced plans. Cable is offering new, streamlined plans to compete with streaming services. The new plans offer fewer channels than full cable packages, but are priced closer to what streaming services charge.
- New and improved cable boxes. Some cable boxes support newer television technology to provide sharper video. Many also have apps for streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. Some allow you to change channels and find programs through voice commands to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
On the other hand, cable requires renting or buying a cable box, wiring in your home, and a service call from a technician to connect the service or address equipment problems.
The average cable bill is generally more costly than a streaming service, and complaints about cable include paying for channels you don’t want and having no choice in who is your provider.
- u Lower prices. Overall, most streaming plans cost less than cable service. But that gap is clos- ing, as cable companies try to become more competitive.
- No box rental. This can save you $100 or more a year. You can access streaming services through an app on your smart TV or with a device that plugs into your television. Amazon Fire Stick and Apple TV are two examples.
- Watch on other devices. A streaming service allows you to watch movies and television pro- grams on laptops, tablets and other handheld devices, as well as on your television. Wherever you have access to an Internet connection, you can access your streaming service programming.
- Simple, easy-to-understand billing.
- Easy changes to your subscription. Tiered plans offered by streaming services allow you to choose which package of programming meets your needs. It is easy to upgrade or downgrade a plan online or switch companies.
On the downside, streaming services may not carry live local station broad- casts for your area. Some national networks also may not be available on a particular streaming service.
Streaming services require a strong Internet connection and sufficient bandwidth to handle video programs. The streaming service may limit how many different devices can access the service at the same time without paying an additional monthly fee.
The best option for you will depend upon the programs you watch and the flexibility you want in terms of when and where you access those programs. Before choosing a plan, look carefully at the channels offered to be sure the ones that matter to you are included.
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