More consumers ditching traditional TV habits to avoid the rising cost of cable

More consumers are ditching traditional TV habits to avoid the rising cost of cable packages. (KEYE)

AUSTIN, Texas (KEYE) - With more alternative options and streaming services to choose from, CBS Austin found out which type of TV viewer benefits the most from cutting the cord.

"If you're looking into ditching your cable service, it can be kind of frightening at first," said Travis Whites, owner of A1AV Pro.

Whites' business used to consist mainly of setting up home entertainment systems and mounting televisions but now, he's constantly asked about the pros and cons of cutting the cord.

Whites said 15 percent of U.S. households have already gotten rid of cable. "You may be only watching three or four of your favorite programs and your cable company has sold you 150 channels and you're going, why am I paying for this?" Whites said.

It's the top reason TV viewing habits are changing.

Dan Seed is a professor at Texas State University. His media management class studies the decline in cable providers.

Seed said most of his students have never subscribed to cable. "They say, 'No, I don't have cable. It's too expensive. I don't watch it. I don't have enough time to watch that amount of television,'" Seed said.

Experts say viewing habits are shifting to O-T-T or over the top service, meaning TV from the internet. Those who haven't cut the cord yet are weighing the costs.

Austin resident Mike Reed is no exception. "We're seriously looking at becoming an internet-only household and putting up an antenna. Going back 20 years and watching television off of an antenna again," Reed said.

Reed said he's fed up with the rising cost of his cable bill and the old-school contracts. "For the exact same cable service and the exact same internet service I'm going to pay 15 percent more for nothing," Reed said.

Reed's cable bill is below the 2017 national average of $101, but he also pays for multiple streaming services in addition to his cable bill. "Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle," Reed said.

Reed has done his research and realized that cutting the cord also means sacrificing the discounted rate for internet he's getting because it's bundled. "Because I'm not bundling, I really don't save a significant amount of money," Reed said.

Cutting cable can seem daunting, but Whites said if you do it right, you should come out on top.

For those who want to get rid of cable, but don't know where to start, Whites said the first step won't cost a dime. "Ninety-four of the top 100 viewed television shows are available for free through an antenna," Whites said.

O-T-T app services are now offering "skinny bundles" as a low-cost option to get access to a limited number of TV channels. "That can give you access to those live channels just like cable and allow you to DVR that stuff. The starting package starts at about $30," Whites said.

Cable companies are also starting to offer these same options. "These cable providers, they've got to do something. They're losing subscribers. That's the way that they make money. It's a subscription business," Seed said.

Seed said skinny bundles are good for casual TV watchers, but not if you're a sports fanatic. "Not all of these skinny bundles are going to have those sports channels. So, for the sports fan, cable is still kind of the way to go," Seed said.

Most streaming services offer free trials and no contracts, but experts warn even though the starting price is low, it can start to stack up with add-ons like extended DVR or multiple users.

"People with a lot of family members or a lot of TVs in their household may not like this because many of them are limited to the number of users they have," Whites said.

Whites said if the customer does their research they should save money. He said the average TV-watcher can get mostly everything they need through a combination of an antenna, skinny bundle and a couple of a-la-carte apps like ESPN or Showtime to fill in the gaps.

Prices for select subscription Online Video Distribution Services (price per month):

  • Amazon Prime (includes Prime Video) $10.99; Amazon Prime Video only $8.99
  • Hulu $7.99-$11.99
  • Netflix $7.99-$11.99
  • Sling TV $20-$40
  • YouTube Red $9.99
  • ESPN APP $4.99
  • Cable/internet bundle $170/month
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