Streaming services are taking the world by storm. For an industry that was born with Netflix’s inception in 1997, it has transformed into an ultra-competitive landscape–and consumers now how more choices than ever.
In 2018, there were more streaming subscribers than that of cable–613.3 million, to be exact. If you haven’t made the switch to streaming services yet, you’re missing out.
Here’s everything you need to know for cutting the cord in 2020:
1. Decide What Programming You Want
There’s tons of options for a streaming subscription. But not all of them are the same.
For example, Netflix is a great option for individuals who want to watch movies and new content, like the hit-show “You.” But if you’re looking for the ability to watch live TV, Netflix falls flat; instead, picking a service like Hulu Live or Sling TV would be a better option.
Deciding what you want out of a streaming service will make it much easier to start researching which is best suited for your needs. You can Google terms like “TV streaming” or “documentary streaming” to help figure out what service has what you’re looking for.
2. Set a Budget
Cutting the cord is enticing to many people because it can end up being cheaper than subscribing to a cable company. But if you aren’t careful, you can easily end up spending much more than you intended.
There is a streaming service for every budget, including non-existing ones–yes, free streaming services exist!
3. Figure Out How Often You Watch TV
Before you sign-up for the most expensive tier of streaming, stop and ask yourself how often you will actually watch the programming. If you’re considering an expensive monthly cost, dividing it by how many times you think you’ll watch it per month can give you a better idea of if you’re getting a good value or not.
For example, Sling TV offers an Orange+Blue package, where you can have access to all of its programming; it costs $40 per month. That might sound reasonable, but someone who only watches TV twice a week would be paying $5 per viewing session–that’s a lot! On the other hand, someone who watches TV every single day would pay less than $1.50 per viewing. That sounds much more reasonable.
4. Compare Programming and Price for Top 3 Picks
Once you have your top three pics of streaming services you’re interested in, you can start comparing their programming.
Some programming is exclusive, meaning you can’t find it anywhere else. For example, Disney+ will soon become the only place to stream classic movies and its new content. As the streaming industry continues to become more competitive, you can expect to see more of these exclusive partnerships popping up.
Other programming, however, might overlap. If that’s the case, you might want to consider the service that comes with original content.
5. Be Careful with Add-Ons
Many streaming services offer premium add-ons, like Showtime or STARZ. And while they can add variety to your library, they can easily add up in cost.
For example, adding ShowTime to a Hulu subscription will cost you an additional $10.99 per month. Considering Hulu starts at $5.99 for its basic plan and can reach as much as $54.99 per month, adding on Showtime can either more than double your monthly cost or push you toward spending nearly $100 on a streaming service alone.
Sometimes, streaming services will give customers deals if they choose to bundle services. Disney+, for example, offers a bundle where it includes ESPN and Hulu for $12.99 per month. Keep in mind that basic bundles are probably ad-supported, so if you want ad-free browsing, you’ll likely have to contact the servicer and ask for an upgrade.