(BPT) - Just like many decide to cut ties with unhealthy habits for their New Year’s resolutions, cutting the cord is also becoming increasingly popular. “Cord-cutting” refers to the act of canceling cable TV subscriptions, and opting instead for streaming options like Netflix, HBO Go, or YouTube TV — and it can mean significant cost savings.
This trend has been catching on quickly over the past few years. In fact, according to eMarketer, it’s predicted that 44.3 million US households will have canceled their TV or cable subscriptions in 2020. Here are some reasons many are choosing to cut the cord, and simple tips to learn how to say goodbye to cable in the new year.
Choice, cost, commercials
According to Statista, cable customers choosing to leave cable behind are most motivated to save money, citing their cable subscription as “too expensive.” Research has shown that streaming services are more affordable than cable bundles, and cord-cutters can even save an average of more than $1,000 a year. This cost-cutting factor is a primary concern for cable cutters. When replacing traditional TV, many are also slashing monthly bills by choosing new kinds of internet companies that offer more affordable pricing, like local provider Common Networks, which helps reduce the cost of high-speed home internet.
Another big reason many take the leap into streaming is the wider choice of content. Now, consumers get to decide what channels they subscribe to, shows they watch, episodes they pause, and so on. While cable services often provide widely assorted channels, streaming can feel more personalized.
Commercial breaks are also a main consideration when it comes to streaming. While some free streaming services might have the occasional commercial, the skip-able nature of paid streaming makes it so users don’t have to sit through commercial breaks that cable commands.
Step one: Choosing your bandwidth
If you do decide to cut the cable cord, the first step in doing so will be checking your bandwidth. The term “bandwidth” means the amount of data transferred at one time — or the speed of your connection. It’s measured in “Mbps.” The higher Mbps you have, the more you can transfer on the internet at one time.
Generally speaking, streaming an HD movie or TV show will use 5-8 Mbps. However, considering the following factors will also help you determine the right home internet plan for you:
Household members: The number of people playing videos on their devices at the same time will affect your bandwidth needs. If you live with multiple people, you’ll want to factor in enough bandwidth for multiple streams (doubling or tripling the 5-8 Mbps guideline).
Downloads: If you plan on downloading shows, you’ll want to make sure you choose a higher bandwidth option. To frequently download videos, you will want 50 Mbps and up.
4K TVs: Streaming on new 4K TVs uses more bandwidth. It’s recommended to use 25 Mbps per simultaneous 4K stream.
Step two: Connecting to a device
Once you have the proper bandwidth, the next step is to make sure you have a connected TV device to stream media on. If you already have a Smart TV, you may not need a separate device. Smart TVs can install streaming apps, and if you’ve purchased a brand-new TV in the last 5 years, chances are that it’s a Smart TV. But if your TV doesn’t have built-in streaming apps, or if you prefer the wider selection of content offered on a separate device, a streaming device is a worthwhile investment. Examples of streaming devices include Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Firestick.
Step three: Choose your streaming service(s)
Once you’re connected with the right bandwidth and device, you’re able to begin thinking about the choice that cord-cutting provides. As mentioned above, cable isn’t just being replaced by one single entity. There are more options every year, and the options can be overwhelming. When deciding what kind of streaming service to use, there are two kinds:
Live TV: If you want to be able to watch live TV, multi-channel streaming services like YouTube TV, Sling and PlayStation Vue are the way to go. With them, you’ll have access to many familiar channels, including ESPN, ABC, CNN and more. Costs range from $25 to $50 a month.
On-demand content: If you prefer to watch your favorite shows on your own schedule (or binge them all at once), you can skip the live TV services and instead subscribe just to the content you want to access. Netflix and Hulu are now household names in the streaming business, but more options are launching every year, with Disney, HBO, NBC and Apple all having released new or updated services with their own original content in recent months.
This new year, when deciding on the best way to consume media, it’s important to consider the factors above. With a more detailed view of the cord-cutting landscape, you’ll be able to make an informed decision tailored to your viewing preferences.