It’s been a little over three years since our family has paid for cable TV, and truth be told we don’t miss it a bit. We don’t miss the cable-only TV shows, we don’t miss the special offerings such as the home improvement channels or science channels, and we certainly don’t miss paying the $60+ a month in cash that we were doling out to the cable company.
We brought our TV bill down from $720+ a year to $108 a year simply by switching to Netflix. Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu offer many of the same great shows that cable or satellite offer, but for a fraction of the cost.
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Differences Between Hulu & Netflix
Although both Hulu and Netflix offer streaming services, there are differences in each company’s plans. Here are some basics regarding each streaming service and the plans they offer.
Hulu came on the streaming scene in 2007 and currently boasts over 20 million users. You can sign up for membership with Hulu if you live in the United States, the U.S. territories or Japan.
Hulu offers two simple but effective plans:
- The Hulu Basic option
- And the Hulu with Live TV option
Here is some information on the two plans.
The Hulu Basic costs $5.99 per month. You’ll get full access to the Hulu streaming library for that price. However, you will see a limited amount of commercials with that plan. If you want the basic plan with add-ons such as “no commercials,” it’ll cost you $11.99 a month instead of $5.99 a month.
Note that even with the “no commercials” add-on, a few shows have commercials before and after episodes. This is due to streaming rights pertaining to the particular shows.
Also, you can add on viewing options for HBO, Cinemax or Showtime with the Basic plan, but it’ll cost you extra cash each month.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu with Live TV works a bit differently than Hulu Basic. Yes, you’ll still have access to Hulu’s streaming library when you sign up for Hulu with Live TV. However, you’ll also have the ability to watch certain channels live.
This subscription package works kind of like a cable TV package. The additional channels you get to watch live include:
- Mainline channels such as ABC, FOX, CBS and NBC
- HGTV (Home and Garden TV), the Food Network, the Travel Channel
- FX, FXM and FXX
- The Smithsonian Channel and the History Channel
- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News and ESPN U
- The Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Boomerang
- A&E, TRUTV and National Geographic
And more. As you can see, Hulu with Live TV offers something for everyone in terms of channel selections. There are live sports games for the sports fanatics, live prime time shows for the major networks, etc. They even include viewing to major news networks such as FOX, CNN and MSNBC.
Hulu also has original content offerings such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, The Looming Tower and Hard Sun.
More Hulu Benefits
Hulu subscribers can access a library of content on connected TVs, smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, mobile devices and set-top boxes. Their service offers content from dozens of different providers, such as ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS, MTV, TLC and many, many more.
According to their site, “Hulu is the only streaming service that offers a library of the current season hit TV shows, films, full seasons of acclaimed series, premium original programming and clips to subscribers.”
Another benefit is in the speed with which Hulu offers episodes of prime-time TV shows such as CSI. Hulu offers programs much sooner after they air than Netflix does; in many cases, shows are available as early as the day after they air.
If you’re interested in a streaming service that is quick to offer prime-time TV episodes and a great cable lineup, you might like Hulu. Now we’ll talk a bit about Netflix and what they have to offer.
Netflix started the business in 1997 as an online movie rental service. Soon after, they morphed into a movie streaming service with a monthly fee for unlimited viewing. Netflix differs from Hulu in that whereas Hulu offers popular show episodes often within 24 hours of when they air, Netflix focuses more on quantity. You won’t find prime time TV series episodes available nearly as quickly on Netflix as you will on Hulu.
However, Netflix shares thousands of movie and TV offerings – a much larger amount of content than Hulu offers. And they have more viewers to prove their popularity: nearly 120 million currently. If you’re okay with not having access to show seasons and movies right away, this can be the way to go. Here are the details for available Netflix plans:
The $7.99/month basic plan
Netflix’s $7.99 a month plan offers several benefits:
- You can watch on your laptop, TV, phone or tablet
- You can watch on one device at a time
- Unlimited access to TV and movies
- Cancel anytime
The $10.99/month standard plan
In addition to the features above, the Netflix $9.99 a month plan includes:
- HD viewing when available
- You can watch on up to 2 viewing screens at a time
This upgraded plan can be a great choice if you want to have the ability of two people or groups of people to watch different shows at the same time.
The $13.99/month premium plan
Netflix offers a 3rd plan as well that includes additional features such as:
- Ultra HD viewing when available
- You can watch on up to 4 viewing screens at a time
Netflix has a nice selection of original TV series as well, such as:
- Boss Baby: Back in Business
- Nailed It!
- Marvel’s Luke Cage
And more. They’ve got original series choices for both kids and adults alike, from the “uplifting and encouraging” to the “riveting and suspenseful.”
Other Things to Love About Netflix
Another Netflix advantage is that they have streaming services available in over 190 countries. That nearly covers the entire earth. The exceptions are primarily countries that have restrictions on what types of U.S. companies can operate in them. If you live outside of the United States, United States territories or Japan, you can’t get Hulu.
Regardless, though, the money savings of both services is admirable. Even at $10.99-$11.99 a month, the $144-a-year package options for both Hulu and Netflix are both much cheaper than most cable and satellite packages.
Netflix does win out in terms of the amount of content. However, Hulu has a distinct advantage in that they offer new episodes of popular shows so quickly after they air.
And while Hulu with Live TV does cost close to what you’ll pay for a basic cable package, the benefits might outweigh cable services. For instance, cable TV doesn’t offer a streaming library. Whichever route you choose, streaming services are bound to beat out cable and satellite TV packages.
Other Streaming Alternatives
You probably know that Hulu and Netflix are not your only streaming options. The list of streaming companies continues to grow. Check out some of these other user favorites.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is a streaming service that ranks right up there with Netflix. With nearly as many users (it currently boasts 100 million+) and a large selection, Amazon Prime Video has other benefits as well.
Amazon Prime Video has two subscription options:
- $8.99 per month plan
- $12.99 per month plan
Prime Video for $8.99 Per Month
The basic Prime Video plan costs $8.99 per month. For that price, you get access to thousands of titles from Amazon’s streaming library. No exciting “extras,” but if you’re fine with the basics, this plan is good.
Prime Monthly for $12.99 Per Month
Prime Monthly costs a bit more at $12.99 per month. However, membership in Prime Monthly comes with added benefits such as:
- Free two-day shipping on all Amazon orders
- Unlimited music streaming
- Unlimited reading
And more. Here’s another bonus: If you get Prime Monthly but pay annually, you’ll save even more. The annual subscription price is just $119 per year, which means you’ll save over $35 off the monthly subscription price.
Amazon Prime also has a popular selection of original shows, including Sneaky Pete, Bosch and more. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper and like the idea of free two-day shipping, this might be a good streaming choice for you.
Note: Personally, we have tried Amazon Prime in the past. One thing I didn’t like about it was that many of the TV and movie selections cost users an extra fee; $2 or so. This bugged me. When I pay for a streaming service, I want access to the whole library included in the subscription price.
Sling TV is a streaming service that functions more like a “choose your own” cable service. With Sling TV you can choose from three package options: Sling Orange, Sling Blue and Sling Orange/Blue. Here’s a quick rundown on each.
Sling Orange costs $25 per month and comes with nearly 30 cable channels, including these favorites:
- ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3
- Lifetime, TBS and IFC (Independent Film Channel)
- The Disney Channel and Cartoon Network
- The Food Network, the History Channel and Comedy Central
Among others. Lots to choose from here, and at a reasonable price.
Sling Blue costs $25 per month as well but offers many different cable channels than what Sling Orange offers. It also offers more channels, standing at over 40 offerings currently. Some of the cable channels you’ll get with Sling Blue include:
- USA, Bravo, FS1 and FS2
- Nick Jr., National Geographic and National Geographic Wild
- TNT, TruTV and AMC
- NBC Sports, Bravo, and the NFL Network
And more. Depending on which cable channels you prefer, both the Blue and the Orange packages with Sling could be enticing. However, there’s a third option.
The Sling Orange/Blue combo allows you to get both Sling Orange and Sling Blue for a discounted price of $40 per month. Now, it’s important to note that the Blue and Orange packages do have some duplicate channels.
In other words, you won’t be getting 70+ channels if you take the combination package, but you will get a hefty selection of cable TV channels at a great price. If you’re a big fan of cable and satellite, and not so into the original programming, Sling TV could be a good option for you.
As for our family, we’ll likely be sticking with Netflix. With our Netflix subscription, we get streaming of many of our old favorite cable shows, such as Storage Wars and BBC’s Money for Nothing. We may get the season offerings later than when they are available on cable, but that’s of little importance to us.
Of course, the streaming service you choose depends on the tastes and preferences of you and your family. If you’re casual TV watchers like we are, Netflix will probably fit your tastes just fine.
However, if there are certain shows or channels you just HAVE to have – those non-miss shows that you wait eagerly for – you might prefer Hulu. If you’re a big Amazon shopper, Amazon Prime might be your best choice. Or, if you love your cable TV channels, you might prefer Sling TV.
The point is that there are many options out there that are comparable – and often favorable – to cable and satellite TV options. Gone are the days when a $100-plus cable or satellite TV package is your only choice. There are multiple alternative TV viewing options that can provide entertainment for you and your family.
And many of them cost a lot less than what you’ll pay for cable or satellite. That’s money in the bank for you and a boost toward reaching your financial goals. While saving $50 or 60 dollars a month might not seem life-changing, it can indeed add up.
Combine that with cost savings in other areas of your life, and you could be well on your way to changing your financial picture in a big way. Well Kept Wallet’s founder, Deacon Hayes, did just that. By cutting seemingly small expenses here and there, they were able to pay off over $52,000 in debt in just eighteen months.
As you work to challenge every expense in your quest for financial independence, why not start with your TV viewing preferences and trade in your more expensive satellite or cable options for an inexpensive streaming option such as Hulu or Netflix? With the money you save, you’ll be a millionaire in no time. 🙂