Guestpost by Joel from KillTheCableBill
Any time is a good time to reassess your finances and find ways to save money, but this year it may be more important than ever.
Between the influences of the COVID pandemic, the threat of oncoming inflation, and the mess in the employment market, more and more young European adults are scrambling for ways to trim the fat in their expenses without sacrificing their quality of life any more than they already have.
The reasons for cutting expenses in your 2021 personal budget may be obvious, but how to accomplish it can be less clear. One place many people start is by reducing entertainment expenses. Fortunately, these days you can save considerable cost by getting rid of cable TV without sacrificing your entertainment preferences one bit.
Can European Streaming Content Compete?
Internet access notwithstanding, there’s little argument anymore that streaming content can compete with cable TV in terms of affordable access to quality programming. One need only look at a price comparison to see the obvious winner in cost.
As of early 2021, the average monthly cost for cable TV in Europe is approximately €40. By contrast, most streaming services start at under €10 per month.
As for content, streaming services have increasingly proved their mettle over the years, garnering more and more major awards for their original programming, like:
- Netflix’s House of Cards
- Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
- Ted Lasso from Apple+
Yes, But What About European Streaming Content?
Can European streaming content compete with streaming content from the US and UK? According to European audiences, it sure can.
The Hollywood Reporter reports streaming services booked €11.6 billion in revenues across 28 European countries. Compare that number with just €388.8 million 10 years ago, according to a report by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO,) a media think tank.
It turns out the US and UK no longer have a lock on TV audiences’ eyeballs. Just look at the latest global blockbuster — a streaming series from Netflix called Squid Game which comes out of South Korea.
Will the next mega-hit come out of Europe? And who will produce it: a TV studio or a streaming service?
Why Get Rid of Cable TV?
In the past, cable TV used to be the only way to get quality programming beyond local broadcasts and the major networks. Now, it’s not only one of many ways, it’s also often the least affordable with a less extensive catalog of quality content.
Don’t I Need Cable for Internet?
Many European households get their cable TV and internet services bundled together. But that’s not the only way to get internet in your home. You could, for instance, bundle it with your landline telephone instead.
If you don’t have a landline, there are still many companies that offer standalone broadband internet access directly. When evaluating internet plans, remember that for streaming purposes, it’s best to start with a plan that gives you unlimited data. Then, you can watch everything you want while paying attention to how much data you actually use.
Once you get a clear picture of your real data use, you can always contact your broadband provider to downgrade your plan and save a few more bucks.
[Jonathan: Yep, that is what I currently have, a standalone broadband internet connection]
No Broadband? Try Satellite
If broadband access is unavailable in your area, you may be able to get high-speed satellite internet. If all else fails, anywhere your cell phone can get internet service, you can get streaming access, though the reception may be spotty, affecting speeds, image quality, and buffering time.
Likewise, you can do so with the same limitations if you find shared WiFi access, such as at a local library or coffee shop, or install DSL service in your home.
In most cases, by using a streaming service instead of cable TV, you can even access your TV programming remotely by using WiFi when it’s available and cellular data when it’s not.
Can I Still Watch European Content? Yes!
As a cable TV user in Europe, one concern you may have about switching to streaming services for watching TV is the fear of not having access to European programming. In 2018, however, the European Commission made it mandatory by law that at least 30% of what streaming services broadcast in the EU is European content.
How to Find Where Your Favorite Movies & TV Shows Are Streaming
Many sites exist online purely to aggregate and organize video content available from various streaming services, like JustWatch and Reelgood. Some sites even let you search for streaming European programming by country.
Once you find a show or movie you want to watch, the guide will then show you which streaming services have that content available.
By performing a few simple searches like these for your favorite shows and movies before you sign up with a particular streaming service, you can get a better idea of which streaming services would best serve your viewing interests.
[Jonathan: Many channels offer regular content for free as well (myTF1, FranceTV, VTM, EEN, AUVIO,…) and with their app on your Smart TV it almost works as a good ol’ TV]
Top Streaming Services in Europe
Many of the top streaming services in the world are also big in Europe, including Netflix, Hulu, FuboTV, Disney+ and HBO Max. Soon Paramount+ will also be available on the Sky Network.
Many European countries offer a competitive array of quality local, European, and international content, such as:
- ARTE (France) – Provides content almost anyone anywhere can upload, a la YouTube, across an array of genres like science, art, culture and history, including free performances, to viewers across France, Europe, and the world
- C More (Sweden) – A less-extensive but well-curated collection of live and on-demand television, including the option to add live sports, a feature scarce among the competition
- Magenta TV (Germany) – Presents over 100 live channels and many more on-demand, including movies, sold in monthly and annual subscriptions by T-Mobile
- Moviestar+ (Spain) – Gives subscribers access to the full catalogs of Netflix and Disney+ along with 1,600 more titles
- ORF TVTHEK (Austria) – Offers both live and on-demand streaming of multiple ORF networks, like ORF I and ORF II, to Austra, Italy, Germany, and several other European countries
- RTE Player (Ireland) – Streams content from Ireland’s biggest public media broadcasting television network anywhere in the world where the local government hasn’t blocked it
- TIMvision (Italy) – Essentially Italy’s Netflix
- Via Play (Sweden) – Airs more content than C More, including more sports, like UFC fights and NHL and NFL games out of the US and more Eurozone sports, and a larger on-demand library of more than 40,000 titles
Watching Premier League & Other Sports Without Cable
Without cable TV, it used to be near-impossible to watch every Premier League soccer match, let alone live sports. Now, you can find all the Premier League matches you want on one or a combination of several streaming services.
To get all English Premier League (EPL) matches all in one place, Fubo TV offers all Premier-league related channels, including CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Telemundo, USA, and Universo. It also offers standard sports channels CBS Sports Network, ESPN, and Fox Sports, as well as over 10 TUDN and beIN Sports channels.
If it’s Serie A football games you’re more into, DAZN may be the right streaming service for you. One of the most popular sports streaming services in Europe, DAZN is Italy’s live sports streaming service, backed by Telecom Italia.
In addition to offering a hefty dose of other live athletic events, DAZN also notched a three-year deal for exclusive rights to stream most Premier League Serie A games. Commonly cited as the “Netflix of Sports,” DAZN operates in 200 markets throughout Europe.
Other services for streaming sports live in Europe include Peacock, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Eurosport, and public broadcasting stations like France Télévisions.
Once you’ve decided that you can, indeed, find the programming you want on streaming services, you’re almost ready to cut the cord to your cable box — but not quite. Before doing so, there are a few more things to consider.
Check Your Internet Package
First, examine your internet access. What is the quality of your current internet connection? Is it bundled with your cable TV service? If so, where will you get internet access, and at what level of quality and cost?
What Streaming Device Do You Prefer?
Next, consider the device you’ll be using for streaming. Do you have a smart TV — ie, is your television internet-enabled, and can you download streaming apps onto it and run them?
If not, do you already have a streaming device or must you purchase one? Think about whether you want a portable mobile device or a standalone streamer, like an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku?
Streaming Service Features
When looking at which streaming services to use, content selection and availability will be at the top of your list, but it shouldn’t be your only consideration. You also want to compare each service according to video quality, as well as features like:
- Digital DVR
- Simultaneous streaming
- Away-from-home viewing
- Surround-sound capability
How to Get Started Now
To begin the process of getting rid of cable TV and switching to streaming services for all your TV, sports, and video entertainment, take a moment to calculate the costs of the shift.
- Examine how much you’re paying now for cable TV and how much you’d be paying for the streaming service or services with which you’d be replacing it.
- Make sure you’re factoring your internet costs into the calculation. With your cable TV, internet access is a separate service, although your provider may bundle its cost into your cable bill. The cost of streaming doesn’t include internet access. Rather, you’ll need to provide your own internet access at an additional cost. Find what internet service provider you’ll be using for this access, and calculate their fee into your total monthly cost for streaming.
- Compare your cost for cable TV versus streaming to ensure it makes financial sense for you to switch from one to the other. If it doesn’t look promising, see if there’s some other way you can make it work, such as by choosing a different internet provider or subscribing to fewer streaming services, or subscribing to them at a lower level, such as ad-supported instead of ad-free.
The days of locking yourself into a cable service contract are finally gone. No longer are you limited to a few stations you want and a whole bunch you don’t. With streaming video content, you can watch what you want, when you want and where you want.
After that, sit back and enjoy your favorite shows, movies, and sports knowing you’re paying less for more.
About the Author
Joel is a writer for KillTheCableBill.com helping individuals to cut the cord where necessary.
I would like to thank Joel once again for helping us navigate through all the streaming options we have here as well (not much to envy our US friends it seems, still as overwhelming though 😅) and helping us save money on our entertainment!
I personally have not had a regular TV subscription since 2017, so I can definitely relate to the pick and choose method!
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