Is Cable TV Dying? Not Quite, and Here's Why

Many people are ditching cable to stream exclusively, whether it’s with a live TV service or a streaming service or two. More streaming services than ever before are dominating the content landscape, leading many long-time cable customers to cut the cord completely. However, there are still advantages to keeping cable or even buying cable TV for the first time, even if this idea sounds a bit counterintuitive.

Table of Contents

  • What Content Does Cable TV Have?
  • Why Is Cable TV Still Relevant?
  • High-Speed Internet Requirements for Streaming
  • How Many Streaming Services Are There?
  • What to Know About Streaming Services Hardware
  • How to Bundle TV and Internet to Save Money
  • FAQ

Summary

Buying cable TV today may seem like a strange concept considering the direction the content industry seems to be trending. However, cable TV’s benefits may outweigh the negatives, especially in an oversaturated streaming service market. When the industry is quickly becoming overpopulated by streaming services that take pride in exclusivity, cable TV offers an all-in-one place for all content.

1. What Content Does Cable TV Have?

Streaming services offer an on-demand convenience. Viewers have to know exactly what they want to watch and if their streaming service has it. However, this is the inherent problem with all the streaming services that are popping up recently. Content is becoming more and more exclusive.

Hit series and big-brand networks used to be accessible to essentially anyone with a cable subscription, with a few exceptions. A family could turn the TV on and see hundreds of channels just waiting to be surfed. Practically every iconic network, series, movie, sports game and more are available to watch, all in one place. Hundreds of channels worth of content is available, ready to be watched whenever. Your family’s next favorite show is currently waiting to be discovered!

Why buy cable tv

Sports are a main reason why many people are keeping cable TV in 2022. Special live events such as pay-per-view boxing, the Super Bowl or Olympics are culturally and economically important to millions of families. Local professional or collegiate teams may be locked into regional sports networks which are only accessible via cable TV.

With streaming services, the content varies service to service. Large media companies are bound by contractual obligations and make exclusivity deals. This is why a particular show may be available on one service and unavailable on another. And with more streaming services than ever before coming into existence, the exclusivity is only going to increase. If a customer wishes to watch one series that is exclusive to one service, which is the case for multiple series, then they will likely end up buying multiple streaming services. This price can add up quickly.

2. Why Is Cable TV Still Relevant?

Cable TV, believe it or not, is evolving. Cable companies realize that customers value an on-demand, mobile and immersive content experience, which is something streaming services strive for as well. Cable TV now offers plenty of features that are built for 2022 and beyond, including:

  • TV apps and mobile viewing functionality for watching on-the-go
  • Thousands of hours of a variety of On Demand content
  • Live TV streaming anywhere
  • Ability to bundle with high-speed internet for better overall value
  • More time at home = need more content to watch
  • Hundreds of channels including the most popular networks and series

As shown above, there are still plenty of perks to keeping or buying cable TV. Cable TV offers live TV and On Demand services to take your favorite content on the go. There are thousands of titles to watch (both On Demand and live) and great deals are available to package your cable TV with high-speed internet. Also, with more people than ever before spending long days at home, viewers need more and more content to watch. Cable TV has no shortage of sports, lifestyle networks, game shows, documentaries, blockbuster movies and much more.

The table below compares the DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT plan, a live TV, internet-based streaming service, to Spectrum TV Select, a cable TV plan. Note how Spectrum TV Select offers more channels for a better overall value.

Live TV Streaming Service Plan vs. Cable TV Plan
PlanPriceChannelsContractsBest Features
DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT$69.99/mo.75+No annual contract requiredUnlimited Cloud DVR for $10/mo. extra
Spectrum TV Select$59.99/mo.125+None60,000+ On Demand titles, stream live TV

3. High-Speed Internet Requirements for Streaming

High-speed internet is critical with streaming services or live TV streaming services such as Hulu+ Live TV, YouTube TV or DIRECTV STREAM. Services like Netflix recommend at least 25 Mbps internet speeds to watch in HD, meaning if a family wants to stream on different devices simultaneously, they better have high-speed internet.

Cable TV does not rely on a fast internet connection. Instead, it is run through coaxial cables directly to your home via an extensive cable infrastructure that spans the country. It is quite possible to have a robust, functioning cable TV package with multiple TVs all watching with relatively slow (or even no) internet. However, it is impossible to stream shows through the internet (like with Netflix, Disney+, YouTube TV, etc.) on multiple devices if your internet connection is slow.

Another issue with internet speeds and streaming are data caps. Many internet service providers put a limit on users’ monthly data. This means that if the data cap is breached, internet speeds are slowed or the customer is charged extra. Streaming services take up a ton of monthly data, so it is wise for heavy streamers to invest in high-speed, unlimited internet, which can be costly depending on where they live.

With cable TV, this issue is completely avoided altogether. Cable TV is unaffected by data caps, meaning TV lovers can watch TV in their home however much they please. Keep in mind that in order to use a cable TV provider’s mobile TV app, an internet connection is required.

4. How Many Streaming Services Are There?

In the vast landscape of streaming services or internet-based live TV services, how can a customer know what to choose? More streaming services appear every year as the industry pivots towards internet-based, exclusive content.

These streaming services are relatively equally priced, the main differences between them being exclusive content and user experience/interface. If a cable-cutting customer really wants to watch seven different shows that are exclusive to seven different platforms, do they buy every single streaming service? Or do they just buy a few and forget the other shows?

Most popular streaming services:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO Max
  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • Paramount+
  • Peacock
  • and many more

Live TV streaming services are essentially internet-based cable TV. These platforms, including DIRECTV STREAM, YouTube TV, fuboTV and Sling, offer a true live TV experience with fewer channels and a lower overall price point than traditional cable TV. Subscribers get the “feel” of cable TV while having to rely on high-speed internet. Live TV streaming platforms are easy to use and offer accessibility, but over time, especially after promotional prices are replaced by rack rates, the price of a live TV service and multiple streaming services (for example, having a YouTube TV subscription while also subscribing to Netflix and Disney+) can quickly rival, and even cost more than cable TV.

5. What to Know About Streaming Services Hardware

Streaming services, internet service providers and cable TV providers are all notorious for hidden fees and other costs that customers may not have anticipated. One factor to consider when switching to streaming only is to determine what additional hardware is necessary. For example, services such as DIRECTV STREAM require a special streaming device which can cost extra. Other services may not be built into your TV if it is not a smart TV and could require hardware such as a Roku device or Amazon Fire Stick.

For customers who are unfamiliar with streaming services and wish to cut the cord to avoid extra expenses, paying for additional hardware to access streaming services may seem disappointing. This is especially the case when factoring in costs for multiple streaming services, hardware and other various fees.

Of course, cable TV comes with various fees as well, including broadcast fees, but they are usually unavoidable no matter which provider you choose.

Bundle cable with internet to save money

6. How to Bundle TV and Internet to Save Money

Bundling is not only about convenience. Sure, keeping your services on one bill is nice, but there are even more perks when bundling. Customers can usually save money each month by bundling together their TV and internet plans, including with Spectrum.

Entertainment nowadays is more important than it has ever been. Families expect content to be accessible and inexpensive. A great way to save money and maximize entertainment and online connectivity is through a TV and internet package. Get more value every month by packaging together two bills you would otherwise just be paying separately.

Frequently asked questions

What are the best cable TV providers?

Top cable TV providers include Xfinity, Spectrum, Optimum and Cox.

Can National Broadband help me find a TV plan?

National Broadband can help customers find and compare TV and internet plans. Use our Check Availability function to find offers near you.

What Is Spectrum Internet Ultra?

Spectrum Internet Ultra is a mid-tier plan for a household looking for high speeds at an affordable price. How does it compare to Spectrum’s base plan and Spectrum Internet Gig?

Suddenlink Is Now Optimum

Suddenlink has changed its name to Optimum, as the brand has merged with Optimum. Optimum now operates internet and TV service in 21 states.

How to Customize Your Spectrum TV Plan

When you sign up for Spectrum TV, don’t just pick a plan and be done with it. Customers can customize their plan with Add-Ons, cloud DVR, Apple 4K TV and more.