By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter
In recent years, millions of people have canceled their cable or satellite subscriptions to potentially save money by streaming live TV via YouTube TV, Hulu, Fubo TV, Sling, or one of the other options.
I’ve heard from dozens of people who say they save hundreds of dollars a year. For many people, streaming is a good choice, but for others, perhaps not so much.
There are many benefits to streaming and unsubscribing from expensive cable TV. But there are things everyone should know and consider before making a decision.
It’s a big change.
#1. The remote control and menu are nothing more than cables. You can control the channels with your TV remote or the remote that comes with a Roku, FireStick, or Chromecast. A surprise in our home was that these remotes were much smaller than wired remotes and had fewer buttons.
There is no back or recent button. What looks like a button to go to the previous channel actually takes you back to the main menu. So if you change the channel, you have to go back to the menu and find the other channel. This is a big deal for sports fans who switch between games. It’s nowhere near as fast as cable or even satellite.
#2. There are no channel numbers on YouTube TV or Hulu. This was initially a big problem for my wife. You can set the menu to display your favorite channels at the top, or you may have to scroll, scroll, and scroll to find what you’re looking for. And there is a delay when you change the channel. For some this isn’t a big problem, but streaming isn’t nearly as convenient or fast as that
Cable or satellite menus that you are used to.
#3. The startup process is slower. Turning on a cable-connected TV is instantaneous and generally switches to the channel you last watched. When using a streaming service, the menu must be loaded, connected to the Internet and displayed. If you have a house of 3 or 4 people, you may also need to select who is watching before the menu loads.
#4. You may need to upgrade your Wi-Fi router and internet plan, especially if you have multiple TVs that stream in 4K.
#5. You may not be saving as much money as you think. In recent years, YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV have increased prices. Three years ago, streaming services charged around $65 per month. Hulu is increasing its subscription price to $77 per month, while YouTube TV has increased prices to $73 per month.
Most people who have switched to streaming are happy and have gotten used to the many changes. However, if you’re a creature of habit who hates change, consider taking advantage of the free trials before actually pulling the plug. YouTube TV lets you try it out for 20 minutes without having to log in or enter a credit card number.
You can always try one of the streaming services for a few months (most have special offers with discounted rates for a few months) and if you don’t like the service you can cancel. None of the streaming services require a commitment like cable and satellite.