Cord-cutting and streaming aren’t a bargain anymore

Cut the cord and save precious money! This used to be a pretty good argument in favor of streaming. Not anymore – thanks to endless price hikes, cable bundles now cost less than top streaming services.

Of course, streaming isn’t going anywhere. In fact, Nielsen says that streaming grabbed a record 38.7% of total TV usage in July – this was a new high for the category.

However, according to recent analysis of streaming and cable TV prices in the US conducted by the Financial Times, subscribing to the major streaming platforms now costs more than the average price of a cable TV bundle.

A basket of the top US streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+, and Peacock – will cost $87 this autumn, compared with $73 a year ago. A typical cable TV package is now cheaper and costs $83, the Financial Times reports.

Is this annoying? Yes. But surprising? Definitely not. If you’re a subscriber of one or another streaming service, you must have noticed that the prices increase quite regularly. The hikes can be indirect yet still painful – for instance, Netflix has killed its most affordable ad-free plan.

The price of Disney+ has jumped the most dramatically. In October 2022, a subscription to the service cost a mere $7.99. But this year, starting in October, that same plan will cost $13.99. That’s a whopping 75% increase.

The price hikes reflect the fact that the golden era of Hollywood flooding audiences with cheaply available yet expensively made programming is over. Millions of consumers were lured in by low prices and canceled their cable packages.

But growth is no longer the sole metric among the big American media companies. They’re now looking for more profits as Wall Street is becoming impatient with the heavy losses in streaming. Warner Bros and Disney have also laid off thousands of staff.

Of course, cheaper streaming is still available, but it comes with annoying advertising. Both Disney+ ($7.99) and Netflix ($6.99) already offer ad-supported tiers.

The risk of consumer backlash is real. First, Netflix has already initiated a password-sharing crackdown, designed to stop friends or family members from spreading the cost of a subscription. Disney+ is planning to follow its competitor’s lead in 2024.

What’s more, the entertainment giants might soon run out of new shows, as a historic Hollywood labor strike continues. Asking subscribers to pay more while offering them less wouldn’t be a good look.

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