Entertainment Wars: Cable TV vs Streaming


With the advancement of technology, previously acclaimed resources are becoming obsolete every second. From floppy disks to VHS tapes and CD players, a lot of products have been omitted from our lives. Every day some new technology gets replaced by an ever newer piece of tech and this analog to digital conversion of everything has resulted in the rise of streaming as well. We do not have to go out to buy the complete Die Hard series for movie marathons anymore and instead we can just stream our favorite movies and shows anytime, anywhere, using any display device. This ease of choice has given our fast-paced lives much-needed relaxation spunk. 

We all learned the phrase, ‘work hard, party harder’, quite early in our lives but today’s era has rebooted the concept in a whole different way presenting us with an enormous ocean of entertainment. Technologically speaking, we have gotten several options to blow off the working steam; from zoom parties and online social interaction to vlogging and gaming. But the one option credited to be everyone’s guilty pleasure is movies and TV shows.

Cable TV has reformed itself to become accustomed to the new ways in the recent past and on the other hand, streaming services is attracting customers on all forums. In this article, we will discuss the various distinguishing points of both the services and how the entertainment industry is shaping itself.

Cable TV

The biggest pro that Cable TV flexes is its availability of channels. All the local and international channels like FOX, CBS, ABC, ESPN, CNN, BBC, Spike, and Fox Sports, etc. are made available with Cable TV connection. Unlimited choices of these channels at one’s disposal are hands down the best thing about Cable TV.

The newest ease of cable TV is the availability of DVR (Digital Video Recorder) allowing you to record programs to not miss out on your favorite shows during a tight work schedule. Provisional to your cable TV provider type, you can log into the channel’s website to watch a show whose live airing you might have missed. For instance, Optimum Cable has included its state-of-the-art, Cloud DVR, which can record almost 15 different programs simultaneously, across all its cable TV packages, facilitating its users.


Shows like Westworld, American gods, Money Heist, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and The Handmaid’s Tale, have taken the whole world by a storm, and their streaming services, Netflix, Prime, HBO, and Hulu dominate every award show. The old classics like Friends, Seinfield, and The Office can also be binged on these streaming networks and it is only fair to say that everything you need or wish to watch is made available by these services.

While these streaming services would provide you with entertainment programs that you didn’t even know you wanted to watch and acquaint you with genres you didn’t know exist, they lack to offer you live shows and it is especially saddening for a crazy sports fan like myself.

Cable TV vs Streaming 

Here are the key differences between Cable TV and streaming services for you to decide which of these options would serve you the best.

  1. Cost

If you spend money on anything, no matter how much or how little, you expect high quality in return. If something better and more efficient comes along at cheaper rates, you would most likely make a switch. As far as streaming is concerned, an average streaming plan costs you no more than $15 whilst cable costs range from $50 to $120. 

Cable TV

Most cable TV providers offer attractive packages and discounts to their customers. These packages and discounts maintain their clientele and providers like Optimum go out of the way to accommodate its users. Although, not all cable TV providers are transparent resulting in customers being charged with hidden fees and contractual obligations. 

Even without such unforeseen costs, the cable is generally a bit more expensive. For premium channels like HBO and Showtime, you will be expected to pay extra bucks resulting in a big monthly hole in the wallet.

Streaming Service

Streaming, generally, is much more affordable than cable TV and sits right with your budget. One small inconvenience is that all streaming services charge separately and if you go for all the services at the same time, it can result in a hefty amount. Although, another benefit of streaming is that you can share an account with your friends and so the burden is divided driving the overall cost of the service down.

With all the economic benefits it provides, streaming also requires you to have a sound and fast internet connection, and you might also have to invest in equipment like audio speakers, which might increase the overall expense.

  • Content

Cable TV and streaming, both offer an enormous amount of content for you to consume and while cable TV has hundreds of channels sharing content all the time, a recent study suggests that streaming services have come up with more original content since 2018 than the traditional cable TV.

Cable TV

The main differentiation edge for cable TV over streaming services is its live coverage especially current affairs and sporting events. Cable TV has an excessive amount of channels to satisfy your curiosity. 

On the other end, cable TV does not help you at all when you desperately want to watch ‘Avengers’ or ‘The God Father Trilogy’, and even if it does, the volume of commercials is enough to kill the mood.

Streaming Service

Anything you want to watch and at any time is made available to you through streaming services. From originals to highly popular shows and movies can be found and the endless need to find something good while eating your dinner has become relatively easier. These services work through certain algorithms developing a list of relatable content for you to stream from.

If you are a binge-watcher like me, then streaming has eased your life so much already. You can watch your favorite shows and movies at your speed and leisure. 

  • Commercials

Two decades back, commercials cutting into our favorite movies and shows did not seem such a bad thing, like it would give us time to get a bottle of Pinot Noir from the cellar but today, getting interrupted by these advertisements feels like a real rhythmic accident. Streaming services allow us to watch shows and movies in continuity and the only price we have to pay, against no commercials, is to get the bottle of Pinot Noir from the cellar before we stream in! 


You can go with either service on account of the circumstances. While cable TV has significantly lost its popularity in the last decade, cutting the cord is still an unpopular opinion because of the variety of channels especially live TV. Most Americans are subscribing to streaming services in addition to their cable TV, these days, especially during the COVID-19 crisis it is estimated that every American has signed up to some streaming network.

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