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Is Cable Still Worth The Price? We Weigh In

For years, the best way to catch your favorite programming was through your TV and a subscription to cable or satellite company. We’re well past that point, though, now that there are almost as many online avenues for viewers as there are actual networks and streaming outlets. But is it worth it to keep one’s cable connected, or is the better bet to leave all that behind and make the switch to a plan that relies on streaming services? Cinema Blend’s Eric Eisenberg and I each make our case in the matter.

Eric: The cable system is broken, and has been for decades. While many of us only watch a handful of shows on a handful of networks, companies still charge for the channels and programming that we’re not watching, and, what’s more, all of those are regimented on a schedule that has nothing to do with your own personal life and habits. This terrible, expensive, and inflexible system has managed to survive for years simply because we didn’t have any other actual options, but that’s no longer the case. In the last few years there have been major leaps taken in the streaming market, and now the time has come for the cord to be cut.

I personally got rid of my cable box a couple of years ago, and there is not a single element that I miss. I’m a subscriber of pretty much every single streaming service, and the yearly cost is still a fraction of what I used to pay. I miss out on shows the minute they start airing, but that just allows me to watch on my own time and now always without commercial interruption (some shows are actually now available on Hulu right after they air, so there’s not always a waiting game to be played). And while formerly TV-only programming like the Academy Awards and various sports used to be beyond arm’s reach, the Oscars are now live-streamed; and the MLB, the NFL, and the NHL all offer subscriptions online and on mobile. There is one clear direction that the industry is moving in, and it’s time for everyone to get on-board.

Nick: To me, the cable system has never been broken exactly, but it has admittedly not caught up with the times like everything else. That said, there is no legitimate substitution for me. I watch a LOT of TV, and my tastes cover the entire gamut of genres and just about every network with scripted series, so paying for it is not only worth it, but also the easiest route. I definitely also have subscriptions to dedicated streaming services like Netflix (opens in new tab), Amazon Prime and Hulu, but those are mostly for the original series (like Transparent and Daredevil) and for movies. Considering the regular TV programming that each of those services offers up is completely in the hands of the Licensing Rights Gods, it’s isn’t the most sensible thing to rely on any of them for a particular series. Hulu is good at putting certain show’s episodes up soon after they air – Amazon Prime is, too, but on a far more limited basis – but Netflix doesn’t get stuff until months later.

Sure, I could just subscribe to the limited-channel solutions like Sling TV, and I could get individual subscriptions to networks like HBO, Showtime, CBS, NBC, Nickelodeon and others, and I could subscribe to certain sports’ online plans, while also just hoping that other networks let me watch programming without paying or needing a cable/satellite plan. Or I could just have it all in one place: my cable box. I’ll do that one.

So that’s clearly how the two of us feel about it. The numbers definitely show that cable subscriptions are dropping, while streaming subscriptions are rising, but while this trend could continue until there are no cable boxes left in the country, it could just as easily stop and level out. But that all depends on you guys. Let us know whether you think cable is still worth the price or not.

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