Once again cable companies are rushing to find any way to claim cord cutting costs more than cable TV. This time Jacob Kuerth and Anne Allred for NBC are pushing the idea that you can’t save money with cord cutting so you might as well get cable TV.
Yesterday, NBC appran a story called “VERIFY: Is cutting the cord really worth it?” As you would expect, they push the idea that you might as well just get cable TV.
Today, we break down what NBC got wrong in their desperate attempt to scare you away from cord cutting.
Issue #1 Not Including Fees & Taxes
As with many of these “cord cutting costs more” stories they only use the advertised promotional price for cable TV. They do not include the fees and taxes when they claim the $75 to $150 cost. And they ignore fees like the new $24 per month DVR fee some TV companies are charging.
Here is a breakdown of Spectrum’s fees and taxes according to one customer’s bill from last year. (Note: Spectrum has raised some of these fees since this post, but we will use the lower number because we have a bill to prove these charges.)
Spectrum’s Fees & Taxes
- Broadcast TV and Sports Programming Surcharge: $11.55
- Taxes: $9.09
- HD Set-Top Box Rental Fee: $11.75
- Digital Converter: $6.99 Per TV (So, if you have three extra TVs that will cost $20.97)
- Other Fees: $7.53
So, that $150 cable TV bill that was supposed to save you money now costs $210.89 a month. When compared to NBC’s own claim that their cord cutting set-up costs them $94 a month, NBC shows how cord cutting can save you $116.89. Now, what about that cheaper $75 plan? That less expensive plan now costs you $135.89, which means you could save $41.89 a month using NBC’s own example.
You can find the full breakdown of Spectrum fees and taxes HERE.
In 2018, it was reported by the research group cg42 that the average cord cutter saves $85 a month. (There have been other studies that suggest that the savings could be as high as $100+ every month, but let’s use the lower number for this argument.)
With a price hike of $10 a month every year on cord cutting and no change in pricing for cable TV, it would take eight-and-a-half years for cord cutting prices to catch up to cable in pricing and nine years before cord cutting costs more than cable TV.
For that to be true Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T, and others would have to agree to stop raising their prices for the next nine years. Yet just this year all of them raised their prices and Spectrum raised their prices twice in the last year.
Issue #2 Overstating the Cost of Cord Cutting
One common tactic many anti-cord cutting stories use is to overstate the cost of cord cutting. For example, NBC warns that a streaming player could cost over $300 by pushing the most expensive TiVo Box possible. Yet they ignore far cheaper options like Tablo or the Fire TV Recast DVR.
Many of these stories push the idea that you will need so many services. According to our readers and other research groups, most cord cutters subscribe to less than four streaming services. When we surveyed our readers, over 91% of them paid for four or fewer services and over 70% of them paid for three or fewer services. Plus, NBC included HBO and Starz as a cord cutting expense and ignored the fact that the cable plans NBC is promoting do not include HBO and Starz.
Issue #3 Claiming Cable Will Give You All the Content You Want
I find this to be the biggest issue with this story. According to NBC, if you went back to cable TV’s basic package you would happily give up Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, and Starz. Yet the cable TV package they use does not include most of the content from these services. Want Starz or HBO? That would still be an extra cost on top of your cable TV bill.
Would you really give up Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon? Most cable TV subscribers wouldn’t! Over half of all cable TV subscribers also pay for a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Now you have to add that cost on top of the cost of cable TV.
So, would you really give up Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale to go back to cable? What about HBO and Starz? Leave us a comment and let us know.
We could keep pointing out issues with stories like this, but the main issue is the math does not work out. Second, you can’t get the shows most people want on cable TV anymore.
Now you may be wondering why we didn’t include any live TV services in this post. In short, that is because NBC did not include any in their story. Also, even if you add a $50 YouTube TV cost on top of Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and Hulu not only would you get the live TV you want but you will also get a ton of content from Netflix, Disney+, WarnerMedia, and Hulu for less than cable TV.
Do your own research and decide if cord cutting is right for you. Don’t take my word for it and definitely don’t take the word of stories like this one from NBC to make your decision. We suggest you check out our Cord Cutting Beginners Guide to help you decide if cord cutting is right for you.
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