Why the price of TV isn’t going down, and what you can do about it

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A big reason people cut the cable cord and move to streaming TV is to save money. Up until the past year, that’s been a very viable solution.

But now, with both YouTube TV and Hulu costing 86% more from when they were first launched 2.5 years ago, the savings over traditional cable TV isn’t as great. Both Sling TV and fuboTV also compete in the streaming space as a cable TV replacement, and each also raised prices.

On the other hand, the cost of cable TV increased for virtually everyone during this same time. Why does the price of watching TV keep going up everywhere?

  • Dedicated sports channels cost a lot of money to run, and are often used as bargaining chips, and that cost gets passed directly to you.
  • The programs on entertainment-based channels are getting more elaborate and expensive to produce.
  • When first starting up, the streaming services used to heavily subsidize new customer acquisitions. Now, these services are more mature and are starting to charge what it costs to run the operation.

Dave DeJonge, founder of Streaming Installers, says “The price of streaming TV is still a much better deal, especially if you take advantage of the new opportunities that exist.” He passed along these tips.


Unlock your deals

Many people don’t realize they already qualify for free access to paid streaming services. How many of these apply to you?

  • Peacock Premium is included free if you have a Comcast/Xfinity internet subscription and have the Xfinity Flex device. You don’t have to use the Flex device to access the service — it works on Roku, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV, and more. That’s a $5 monthly value.
  • Amazon Video is included with an annual Amazon Prime membership. That’s a $13 monthly value.
  • Discovery + is free with certain Verizon mobile phone plans … a $7 monthly value.
  • Local news on Amazon Fire TV was recently expanded to include Grand Rapids. Go to the Fire TV news app on your Fire TV device and the closest local news stations will be added.
  • Download more apps. If you subscribe to a live TV service like YouTube TV or Hulu Live, you can likely download apps from the channels that appear in your Live Guide at no extra cost. These include HGTV, ESPN, ABC, NBC, and many more. All the apps have different content (and access rules), so experiment!


Cancel what you don’t watch

All of the streaming services allow you to “cancel” your subscription with no problem. But instead of thinking of it as “canceling,” think of it more as “pausing.” That’s because you’ll always be able to start the subscription again. In fact, the streaming service will probably keep your account information active in hopes that you’ll come back as a paying customer.

PRO TIP: Remember how you signed up for the service, because you’ll need to cancel that same way. Streaming Installers recommends signing up directly with the provider if possible instead of through Roku, Apple TV, Amazon, etc.


Free trial periods

There are free trial periods for just about any streaming service that last from seven days to a month. (Though not for Netflix!) Simply sign up and then watch the programs you like on the service. If you like more shows, keep it. If not, simply cancel. There’s no hassle to cancel. It’s more like pausing the service. They’ll welcome you back when you want to watch the service again.

PRO TIP: Mark your calendar for the end date of trial periods. That not only reminds you of when you’ll get charged, it also gives you a date by which you need to watch those shows.

Free, ad-supported services

There are many free, ad-supported services that feature all kinds of programming … live news, movies, series, originals, you name it. But they all differ, so it’s worth experimenting. Here are some of the most popular that are relevant to West Michigan.