Move Over, Cord Cutting, Make Way For ‘Stream Shaving’

Cord cutting is a term continually thrown around when discussing the decline of traditional cable — and it’s been in a steady state of decline not helped by what TechDirt reports are impending price increases.

But there may be an even more dramatic practice to come in these days of no-obligation, cancel-anytime a la carte subscription services.

Stream shaving.

What is stream shaving?

Like the cousin of cord cutting, “cord shaving,” which is the practice of reducing the amount of cable services you pay for each month instead of eliminating them altogether, stream shaving means that you only pay for your subscriptions when you need them.

The effectiveness of it hinges on knowing your personal viewing habits.

For example, say that you subscribe to HBO NOW at $15 per month, but you realize into your first month of service that the movies are all pretty blasé, and you really only need it for Game of Thrones.

If you’re not hung up on watching episodes live, then you could simply subscribe for one month out of the year for $15 and watch the entire season — cheaper than being a monthly subscriber or a Blu-ray purchaser.

But what if you just have to know what’s going to happen in that season finale at the same time as everyone else?

Try a delayed start.

This means you would wait until the final three or four episodes before subscribing. You could then binge watch the six or seven leading up to the final shows of the season and watch the rest live, same as everyone else.

(Then, you cancel.)

Here is a cord cutting numbers experiment using a friend’s actual monthlies.

His family has a monthly Internet bill of $67 — necessary to run streaming, so you have to include it. He gets a bare bones deal from his cable company for basic locals, TBS, WGN, and QVC. The entire monthly bill runs him around $90 per month.

Being into cord cutting, he’s able to keep things that cheap with the cable company because he’s subscribing to Netflix Streaming ($7.99 per month), Hulu Plus ($7.99), Amazon Prime ($8.25), HBO NOW ($15), and Sling’s “Best of Live TV” package ($20 per month). That adds up to $59.23 plus the aforementioned $90 for a total of $144.23 per month.

When he started investigating further about cord cutting alternatives, he discovered it was possible to get free locals each month through a one-time fee of $40 for the purchase of a digital antenna.

Doing so eliminated his $23 per month for locals and left him with a $67 per month internet bill and $59.23 for the streaming services. He was down to $126.23 per month.

But then he realized that he only watched Netflix for Longmire and Daredevil, which he could do in a month in spite of paying for 12.

(He is a casual viewer and doesn’t spend a lot of time reading spoilers online.)

This eliminated Netflix’s $7.99 for 11 months out of the year.

Also, since he only watched HBO NOW for Game of Thrones, that $15 per month was also removed for 11 months.

Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Sling were the only things he watched with regularity ($36.24 per month).

When you add that to the $67 internet bill and then factor in one month of Netflix Streaming and one month of HBO NOW, he only paid around $105.15 per month by having a better sense of his personal viewing habits and tailoring his subscriptions to meet those specific needs.

That’s a savings of $39.08 per month from when he dealt more heavily with his cable provider and a savings of $21.08 per month through the added stream shaving effort.

The yearly savings is anywhere from $252.96 to $468.96 per year, which can come in handy for a family of four.

While you may not like the idea of stream shaving on its surface, it seems like the next natural step for cord cutting, and it can definitely save you money provided that you are in touch with your viewing habits.

What do you think of stream shaving and cord cutting in general? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]