Comparing streaming platforms to cable

Features Editor Breanna Hill examines both the pros and cons of cable and streaming services. (Courtesy of Towards Data Science)Features Editor Breanna Hill examines both the pros and cons of cable and streaming services. (Courtesy of Towards Data Science)

Breanna Hill, Features Editor 

Streaming platforms have erupted within the past few years and Netflix can be thanked for it. Streaming platforms are dominating the entertainment-viewing industry with each passing year.

Popularity for streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, Disney+ and more is growing exponentially, causing cable companies to drop in sales annually. 

According to an article released by CNBC in October 2020, twenty-five million homes have cut ties with cable companies opting to switch over to numerous streaming platforms instead. At the time of the article’s release, media executives predicted another twenty-five million homes would add on to the already steady decline and cancel their cable subscriptions.

Vulture released an article listing the top streaming services as of March 2021, and the list includes over 40 independent streaming services along with the prices. Prices range anywhere from $5-$15, based on the basic packages offered through these platforms. 

Prices vary depending on the streaming service and the package selected when signing up for the platform. 

Streaming services started off as a way to decrease spending because cable prices were skyrocketing. With streaming platforms becoming more and more popular, viewers are stacking up numerous subscriptions, getting closer and closer to the amount usually paid for basic cable packages. 

Below are a list of pros and cons of streaming platforms and cable subscriptions:

Streaming Platforms Pros:

  • Most streaming platforms offer free trials for viewers to try out their service before committing and receiving a bill every month. Depending on the streaming service, free trials can consist of a week, two weeks, or even a month.
  • Streaming services offer multiple packages with varying prices. Hulu, for example, offers several packages including a package with no commercials. Viewers have the control for how much they spend and on what package they choose for streaming platforms. 
  • Along with different packages to choose from, streaming platforms are also teaming up to create bundles to lower the cost of their streaming services. Disney+ has partnered with ESPN+ and National Geographic to create a bundle for viewers, gaining more memberships and subscriptions. 
  • Many streaming services, like Netflix, are creating never before seen content for viewers — content unavailable anywhere besides their platform.

Streaming Platforms Cons:

  • Viewers tend to want multiple streaming platform services to choose from, but with a seemingly infinite amount of streaming platforms, bills tend to pile up leading to a similar cost to the cable packages left behind. 
  • Streaming platforms, just like cable companies, update their pricing periodically. Audiences and viewers turned to streaming services because of their lower prices, but with the services upping their prices, it’s getting closer and closer to the cable subscription prices. 

Cable Subscription Pros:

  • Viewers have one bill, with infinite choices of channels, programs, and shows in one location. Easily accessible. 
  • Certain subscriptions offer channels, like STARZ, expanding their programs. 
  • Recording shows and movies are available through cable subscriptions.

Cable Subscription Cons:

  • Commercials cannot be escaped. 
  • Viewers have to keep an eye out for shows or movies and their designated time slot. 
  • Unlike streaming services, most cable providers are only able to provide viewers with their services with a steady internet connection.
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