Welcome back! I'm giving you an update on the streaming wars so far. A lot has changed this year and I'm pretty sure 2020 will be a considerably different picture than 2019. What streaming services are in the biggest jeopardy? Are people really going to save money by cutting the cord? I'll give you my thoughts below.
Firstly, my streaming service lineup has changed a lot since the beginning of the year. Naturally, I still use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and some of the free streaming services like YouTube. I added Disney+ and it's amazing! Seriously, this app is an asset for Disney fans. Disney+ works better than some of the other streaming services and it has a ton of content. By the way, The Mandalorian tv show is excellent. It's a lovely homage for Star Wars fans. I also believe the remake of Lady and the Tramp is surprisingly good. It has the right quality for a theatrical release, but I doubt people would spend their money in theaters. Dropping it on Disney+ was a smart decision.
This streaming service has one drawback. Disney is still getting their properties back from Netflix and other providers. Some of their contracts don't expire until 2020 and 2021. However, there's still a lot of content to watch. Remember those cartoons and films from your childhood? It's probably available right now. I'm definitely looking forward to X-Men, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, and Gargoyles. They even have animated shows for Guardians of the Galaxy and Big Hero Six. I'll check them out!
At this point, I've given up on any form of network television. I alternated a few live tv streaming services during the year, including DirecTV Now, PlayStation VUE, and Hulu + Live TV. DirecTV Now was turned into AT&T TV Now, which includes fewer channels and a much steeper price. The better package only has sixty channels and it costs $80. PlayStation VUE is being shut down in January 2020, although it was overpriced at $55 per month. Hulu + Live TV seemed like the best deal, but it's going up $10 next month. That means it will also cost $55, except it has fewer channels than PlayStation VUE. I'm going to miss certain channels, but that's enough. It doesn't seem like network television is price efficient anymore.
Cable, satellite, and live tv streaming services have price hikes every few months. At the end of 2020, I'm sure decent cable packages will cost $200 per month and live tv streaming services will be $100. They might also have more sports blackouts and fail to renew contracts with several networks. You're going to pay more money and have fewer channels. Live tv streaming services are still a more price worthy option than any form of cable or satellite, but I simply don't want to pay for either option.
What does that mean for live sports? Well, I'm still receiving the majority of the UFC's matches through ESPN+. I can even watch the pay per view events for free a month after they air. The WWE Network is still $10 a month and it includes their pay per view matches for no additional cost. Hulu airs the WWE house shows the day after they're shown on live television. I also watch Major League Rugby on ESPN+.
I also found alternative ways to watch the NFL, NBA, and NHL. NFL Game Pass shows every football game on demand the day after they air on network television. Unfortunately, none of the NFL games are live, but I don't mind. NBA League Pass shows every game live except for the ones that air locally. Any local games can be watched a few days later. All of the NBA games can be watched on demand. NHL.TV has the same arrangement. Games are live except for the local ones. They can be watched on demand around forty-eight hours later. ESPN+ also shows a couple NHL games per day, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs can only be watched on NHL.TV a few days after they air on live television. You can also subscribe to streaming services for baseball, soccer, boxing, or cricket, but I don't watch those sports.
Sports streaming service aren't cheap either. NFL Game Pass is $99 annually, NBA League Pass is a whopping $200 per year, and NHL.TV is $145 each year. Monthly charges are available, but yearly subscriptions are more cost effective. That might sound crazy, but it's deceptive. Should you ditch cable and try these sports streaming services? It depends. If you must watch every game live, including the Super Bowl and other playoff events, then cable, satellite, or live tv streaming services are the only options. But the individual sports services are a good option if want a cheaper price and don't mind watching games on demand. Yes, it's actually cheaper to subscribe to the leagues individually than pay for network television, both monthly and yearly.
I checked online and it seems like monthly cable bills range anywhere between $107 to $217. It's a big variation and I'm sure the base packages are closer to $100 whereas the more attractive options with a lot of the sports and premium channels are in the $200 price range. That means the majority of people are paying more than $1,000 per year just for cable. Hidden fees are a big part of the problem. Also, many cable users also subscribe to general streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, which adds more money per month and yearly.
Basically, streaming is only cheap if you go the basic route with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. What if you want more? It's still cheaper than cable and satellite. Let's do a little math. Don't worry because I'll take care of it for you. We'll say an individual is exclusively paying for a basic cable package without any streaming services. That person is probably paying at least $107 per month, which equals $1,284 annually. Keep in mind, they're not getting Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, several sports channels, or any premium channels like HBO, Showtime, STARZ, and Cinemax. It's a lot of money for a limited quantity of channels.
What am I watching and is it a better deal? I'm using a combination of monthly, annual, and free subscriptions. Right now, I'm getting HBO, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, the WWE Network, NBA League Pass, NHL.TV, Amazon Prime, NFL Game Pass, STARZ, IMDB TV, Sony Crackle, Tubi TV, and YouTube videos for roughly $1,260 per year. That's close in price to a basic cable package. Yes, I'm paying a lot of money, but it's significantly more content.
The situation will change again in 2020. More streaming services are going to premiere, such as HBO Max. It's going to have the same price as the current HBO service and include a lot more content. NBC Universal is unrolling their streaming service called Peacock. Yes, it's really going to be named Peacock. They haven't mentioned a lot of details yet. I believe Discovery is also releasing a streaming service next year, but it's also a bit mysterious right now. It might not be a bad addition if the price is affordable, considering I don't have any of the Discovery channels anymore. Apple TV+ is already on the market for $5 per month, but they don't have much content yet.
Be weary of deals that seem too attractive. Some streaming services are free because they're supported by ads, such as IMDB TV. Also, you're not getting any live tv streaming services for $10 per month legally. Some IPTV services are promising hundreds of channels, including sports, HBO, and Showtime for a minimal cost. I guarantee those services are pirating channels from legitimate tv providers. Legitimate services will gladly show their partners in an FAQ section. For example, Tubi TV is partnered with Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM, and Universal Pictures. It's a free and legal streaming service with movies on demand, supported by ads. However, illegal IPTV providers are running everything by themselves without permission. Several of them have been shut down and more will follow in the near future. Here's another red flag. Illegal IPTV services will tell customers to hide their identities with VPNs or Virtual Private Networks. That's very fishy. Why should you hide an IP address if a streaming service is legal? That's not how it works. Truthfully, the cheapest live streaming service who operates legally is Philo because it doesn't have any local channels or sports. It costs $20 per month.
In the end, I'm sure my streaming lineup will be very different next year. It's a constantly changing landscape. I'm sure the same will be true for many consumers. Cable will survive for the next several years, but more people will become cord cutters. $200 per month is just too expensive for the average viewer. Also, some of these streaming services aren't going to survive in the long run. PlayStation VUE is already shutting down. More will follow. I'm not even sure what will happen to Netflix because a huge amount of their content will leave and join these newer services. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in 2020.
Are you still paying for cable or does cutting the cord sound like a good idea? Do you think more streaming services will shut down next year? Leave a comment. Next week, I'm planning to review Knives Out. It sounds like a fun murder mystery. Stay tuned for more blog topics in the near future and I'll be back next week. Have a good week!
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