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Consumers across the nation are looking for ways to save money, stay entertained, and get rid of being chained to a cable box. Cable providers have long offered packages that bundle internet, TV and now phones to entice consumers to stay with them, even though they often use only a 1/3 of the services they pay for at a given time. As more consumers cut the cord, the real question you have to ask yourself is: Could you cut the cord?

What Does “Cut the Cord” Mean?

Cut the cord means that you ditch a traditional cable TV subscription to watch your favorite shows, movies, and more in a different way. The most common way to watch TV and movies after cutting the cord is through the use of a streaming service, such as Hulu or Netflix. You are basically canceling cable service, retaining internet service, and watching what you want in ways you can control beyond a cable box.

What Alternatives Exist to Compete with Cable?

There are plenty of alternatives out there to compete with cable TV service, depending on how you watch TV and movies. Many TV networks, such as HBO, CBS, Fox, ABC, Showtime, and others offer free or paid streaming by visiting their websites. Some require a cable TV subscription – which defeats the purpose – but many also offer paid options to let you stream. For TV shows, this means you can watch new episodes typically the next day; for movies, you often get a pre-chosen selection and can “rent” movies through a service. Hulu is also a paid alternative that lets you watch TV shows, although it can be hit or miss as to current seasons.

When it comes to last season’s TV shows, movies, documentaries, and original programming, services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video are available for a monthly fee. For the latter, Instant Video is included in Amazon Prime memberships but a lot of content still has to be paid for so that’s something to be aware of. Netflix has proven to be the champion of streaming services, including award-winning original programming.

Is It Really Cheaper to Cut the Cord?

Many of these alternatives, such as Netflix, allow you to stream over multiple devices over mobile data connections or Wi-Fi. This allows you more flexibility in when, where, and how you watch which you just don’t get with standard cable programming. However, if you’re signing up for multiple services, such as Netflix for movies, Hulu for this season’s TV shows, and HBO to watch Game of Thrones, you’re going to spend upwards of $40 a month to watch what you want. Depending on the deals your cable provider is offering bundling internet, cable, and other services, one might be cheaper than the other.

When it comes down to it, you have to be ready for what’s involved when you cut the cord. Pricing, mobility, availability, and more come into play, especially if your family is relying on these services to watch content at home, on the road, and elsewhere during the day. While cutting the cord sounds promising, it really depends on how much media you consume each month and that should guide your cut the cord decision.