Cable TV vs Streaming


Should I keep on paying monthly charges for the ever-so-reliable cable TV or should I succumb to the power of streaming? These questions have been circling every individual’s mind since the big breakthrough of streaming platforms.

For years, all we had in the name of entertainment was cable TV but now the scenario has changed as hundreds of new entrants have started making their marks in the entertainment industry. According to multiple reports, more than 200 streaming services are working in the United States. As of the last quarter of 2020, Netflix alone had almost 204 million subscribers.

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With all this tension between cable TV and streaming, what is the right decision for the consumer? Well, we will try to find the answer to this question in this article by exploring the various underlying factors.


In the present economic conditions, money is the most important factor to consider before buying anything. It is absurd to spend a huge amount of money on something that can be alternated for cheaper rates. In the same regard, we will see which service is cost-efficient.

Cable TV

Cable TV has observed an upward increasing trend when it comes to prices for a decade now. However, providers like Optimum cable offer year-round discounts to accommodate cable enthusiasts.

Having said that, some cable providers do pile up charges with hidden fees and so you need to be careful when paying bills. Another reason for increased rates of cable is that premium channels including movie and sports channels are an added cost. Cable providers have also come up with add-on packs that you can subscribe to in addition to your cable plan, which ultimately increases your rates.

Streaming Services

If done right, streaming is cheaper than cable TV. The thing is that streaming requires a couple of prerequisites as well and these cost money. The essential requirements of streaming are:

  • High-speed internet is a must for streaming. You cannot stream anything without a consistent and quality internet connection. And while streaming itself might not cost a lot, a decent internet connection can factor in a lot. Although, if you already have a sound internet connection, you might not be worried about it.
  • Smart TV allows streaming, however, there are few options if you do not have one. A streaming device like Roku or Amazon Fire Stick can be connected with your television for continuous streaming. If you are a gamer and own a gaming console, you can use it for streaming as well. While such devices allow you to stream on TV, you can always use your smartphone, tablet, or PC to stream content.
  • Streaming services are affordable but what happens when you have to subscribe to a couple of services? The costs pile up which can be a problem for some. The usual basic plan of streaming services starts from 6 USD, however, the rates may vary from platform to platform. Moreover, if you are interested in live channels like sports and news, you might have to subscribe to live streaming services which can be expensive.


Both the services, cable TV and streaming, offer exceptional content, although the amount can be different. As cable TV houses hundreds of channel networks, the genres, and volume of content can be overwhelming. Streaming, however, is more centric towards TV shows and movies.

Cable TV

Cable TV has a great edge of channel count when it comes to content. Furthermore, live content offered by cable TV makes it very difficult to switch to any other service. If you are someone who lives in a large household, cable TV can be ideal as everyone can savor according to their own interests.

On the contrary, cable TV is scheduled and only offers you pre-decided content. You have to watch shows according to the channel’s choice and you do not have a ground to stand on.

Streaming Services

Streaming services come with an uncanny convenience that makes you in charge of everything that you want to watch. You can watch anything at any time. This flexibility has also introduced binge-watching as people have the option to watch the whole TV show whenever they want.

In addition, streaming services offer a great library of original and licensed content that you can scroll through to choose your pick. Another advantage of streaming is that it lets you watch content according to your mood and not as per the channel’s will.

Commercials and interruptions

Imagine you are watching Braveheart and right before William Wallace screams ‘Freedom,’ a Red Bull commercial cuts in. Does it not kill the entire momentum? Although commercials have always been part of television, watching them interrupt your favorite shows and movies is the worst thing ever.

Cable TV

Cable TV is conditioned with commercials and it is fine since that is how cable channels make money but as a consumer, commercials are the biggest mood spoilers. A high-tech commercial placed between a period movie can hurt the whole sentiment of the movie.


Essentially, streaming frees you from the wrath of commercials. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video rid you of all sorts of ads. However, there are platforms like Hulu that offer you a choice of either paying less with commercials or paying more to avoid them. Still, the decision remains with the users that they can make depending upon their situation.

Extra Charges

Cable TV subscribers, now, have the option to record their favorite programs to view later. For this, they have to buy or rent a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), which adds cost to their monthly cable expense. This expense increases if you want to have multiple DVRs with your multiple television screens. On the other hand, streaming does not have such added charges.

The Final Verdict

It is clear that streaming wins over cable TV when it comes to cost and commercials. However, cable TV rises high in terms of content. The decision to choose here is solely yours and it should depend on your interests and viewing habits.