What are you paying to the cable or satellite company for television?
New numbers for September 2016 from Leichtman Research Group, Inc. show that the average household pays $103.10/month for pay TV service.
That's $1,237.20 each year and it's just the average; some people pay a lot more!
Thankfully, there are a lot of opportunities in the marketplace to reduce that monthly bill and still get the great content you love...
Services currently available in the marketplace
AT&T's entry into the streaming market, DirecTV Now starts at $35 a month and goes up from there.
With DirecTV Now you don't need a satellite dish. You just need an Internet connection. You can access the service from your phone, tablet or computer. Or you can project it onto your big TV.
But here's one caveat: This is not for a family of three or more because you're limited to two users at a time on this service.
(Editor's note: Clark tried and soon after canceled DirecTV Now. “It’s not quite there,” the consumer champ said on his radio show. “The picture is choppy, a lot of times it’s a fuzzy picture, and there’s no DVR with it.”)
Dish's streaming product is called Sling.com and it doesn't require a satellite dish either. Just an Internet connection!
For $20 a month, you’ll get a limited number of channels, but here’s the thing...the Sling offering includes ESPN!
That channel alone has prevented a lot of people from cutting the cord in the past, so this one is worth a look!
One of the most dominant names in streaming, Netflix charges $9.99 a month for the standard package that includes unlimited TV and movies.
But if money is tight, you could pay a $7.99 monthly rate if you're willing to forgo high-definition (HD) programming. You'll only be able to watch in standard definition and only on one screen at the same time in your home.
Netflix is distinguishing itself from the rest of the crowd by pumping a lot of money into creating original content to keep you coming back for more.
One of the original two biggies in this marketspace (along with Netflix), Hulu moved from a partially free model to an all-pay service. Pricing starts at $7.99 a month. (Showtime is an additional $8.99 a month.)
The biggest selling point of Amazon Prime might be the free two-day shipping at $99 a year. But don't overlook the service's robust streaming component.
If streaming is all you want, you'll pay $8.99 a month. Like Netflix, Amazon is putting big bucks into its original programming too.
Miscellaneous streaming services
Many networks have their own standalone streaming services.
Free over-the-air TV
With all the talk of where TV is going in the future, it's easy to forget that it's also extra cheap where it's been in the past. Don't overlook the original option—using an old-fashioned pair of "rabbit ear" antennae to pick up local channels over the air for free.
The process is actually really simple. Go to AntennaWeb.org and you'll be able to enter your street address. Then the website will tell you which channels are available to you and what kind of antenna would be best for you.
You simply need to buy the antenna and maybe a converter box to get the digital signal. Both are routinely available at Best Buy, Amazon or any of your favorite electronics stores. (Newer TVs tend to have a digital tuner already built in, eliminating the need for an external converter box.)
Just follow AntennaWeb's recommendations about the best equipment for your home and start enjoying free TV!
New services that are launching soon
YouTube announced on Feb. 28 a new cable bundle service called YouTube TV set to launch in the next few months.
For $35 a month. YouTube TV will offer 40 TV channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as ESPN.
In fact, ESPN will be one of just 10 sports channels included alongside regional sports networks from Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet. That's big for sports fans.
Programming will be both live and on-demand. YouTube TV will have cloud DVR capability — sure to be a big selling point.
The $35 a month price point will covers six accounts, but only three streams can be watched at once.
Hulu's live TV service
In addition to offering a standalone streaming service, Hulu is also ready to brave the world of live TV over the next few months with a service that's widely expected to price out at under $40 a month.
Hulu's over-the-top skinny bundle will include the CBS broadcast network, CBS Sports Network and POP network. Negotiations with NBC for rights to its content are pending. (NBC is a part owner of Hulu, so the prospects for that deal look good.)
Local affiliates of those major broadcasters are likely to be on board when this service launches in a few months.
And here's another plus for Hulu: The under $40 price tag includes the basic on-demand subscription you would have to pay $8 a month for as a standalone. Plus, the coming service will reportedly have a cloud DVR service, which DirecTV Now lacks.
So you may still be wondering if you could benefit from any of these new over-the-top services.
The bottom line is if you are a multi-person household, the traditional package from cable or satellite is probably a better deal for you than one of these services you get digitally on your devices.
But that having been said, more than half of American households would benefit from dumping cable or satellite and doing one of these options listed above.
Remember, the average pay TV bill is more than $100 a month and rising. Now the power is in your hands If you want to put that money back in your pocket!