Entertainment Internet

If You Can’t Cut the Cord, Try Cord Shaving Instead

Dan Price 17-01-2018

If you’ve been paying attention, you will know cord cutting is all the rage around the world. Cable television companies are losing subscribers at a rate never seen before in history—and it has nothing to do with illegal services like Popcorn Time.


The growing popularity of apps such as Plex and Kodi, combined with the affordability of Netflix and Hulu, has made it easy than ever for users to watch locally-saved video and on-demand TV shows and movies. People’s reliance on traditional TV for their entertainment needs has never been lower.

But cutting the cord isn’t right for everyone, especially in the United States. As a result, a new phenomenon—termed “cord shaving”—is starting to gain traction.

What’s Wrong With Cord Cutting?

According to eMarketer, at the end of 2017, 22.2 million Americans had canceled their cable TV subscription. It marked an increase of 33 percent from the 16.7 million that canceled in 2016.

However, for many more Americans, there’s a catch. Unlike lots of countries, the biggest cable TV companies are also responsible for the broadband networks in the United States. Worse still, there’s barely any broadband competition. Unless you live in a large metropolitan area, you’ll be lucky to have a choice of two.

cord cutting and cord shaving
Image Credit: steveheap/Depositphotos


For cord cutters, this is problematic. The web is littered with stories from people who were strong-armed into keeping their cable TV subscription under the threat of a higher monthly cost for an internet-only package.

So, what’s the solution? For many people, the answer is to try cord shaving instead. But what is cord shaving? Who is it appropriate for? And how much money can it save you each month?

What Is Cord Shaving?

In its most basic form, cord shaving is the idea of keeping your cable TV subscription but canceling all the costly channels, packages, and add-ons. As a result, your bill drops significantly, but you still retain some of the essential basic channels, along with your internet connection.

However, the term is increasingly applying to companies that offer “skinny bundles.” A skinny bundle typically refers to a lower number of channels, but greater choice and lower cost. The best examples are Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue Sling TV vs. DirecTV Now vs. PlayStation Vue: How Do They Compare? In this article, you’ll learn the differences between three major OTT internet television streaming services: Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue. Read More .


How Is This Impacting Pay TV?

The practice is starting to cause a headache for pay TV networks. Channels such as ESPN, Disney, CNN, Nickelodeon, and Food Network have seen their viewer numbers plummet since the turn of the decade.

The same story is reflected across the top 40 distributed cable channels. Estimates suggest that when combined, the top 40 channels have lost more than six million subscribers since 2010. And the rate of decline is increasing. ESPN, for example, reached 7.4 percent fewer American homes in 2017 than in 2015.

Cord shaving is rapidly gaining traction. In 2012, basic cable plans accounted for just eight percent of all paid TV subscriptions. Today, the figure is creeping towards 20 percent.

Who Should Consider Cord Shaving?

Sports Lovers

Sport has traditionally been one of the biggest attractions of cable TV. But it’s starting to lose its stranglehold.


ESPN, for example, managed to grow so large through a lack of competition. It was the only channel offering the sports games that people wanted to watch and could thus charge cable TV companies a significant fee. Furthermore, it prevented cable TV providers from offering the channel on a “sports” package. For viewers, subscribing to cable inevitably meant receiving, and absorbing the cost of, the network.

To the delight of cord shavers, the situation is changing. More and more sports leagues are cutting out the middleman and selling directly to viewers. The WWE is setting the trend.

Additionally, companies such as Amazon and Facebook can now outbid TV networks for broadcast rights. There’s even speculation that Amazon and Facebook will bid for the most expensive sports broadcast package in the world: the English Premier League.

cord cutting and cord shaving
Image Credit: VitalikRadko/Depositphotos


News Junkies

Another group of people who stand to benefit are news junkies. Often, channels such as CNN and Bloomberg are included in one of the cheaper packages.

People who enjoy having 24/7 rolling news in the background The 8 Best Free Streaming News Channels to Watch Online If you've cancelled cable TV and missing your daily dose of news, check out these free streaming news channels instead! Read More could forfeit packages that include channels with content that will ultimately make its way to Netflix or Hulu while retaining the ability to stay abreast of world affairs.

People With Poor Internet Speeds

The final group who can benefit from cord shaving rather than cord cutting is anyone who suffers from a slow internet connection 9 Things That Might Be Slowing Down Your Home Wi-Fi Network Tired of slow or spotty internet? Check these things that could be slowing down your home Wi-Fi network. Read More .

The nature of cord cutting means you’ll need to use your web connection to receive all of the content you watch, both live TV and video-on-demand. And while a slow connection shouldn’t impact your ability to watch video on demand (you can just wait for it to buffer), it will severely affect your ability to enjoy live TV.

Cord shaving can leave you with some live TV options while relying on Netflix and such for the more popular shows.

How Much Money Could Cord Shaving Save You?

The amount of money you can save depends on how you plan to shave the cord.

As detailed earlier in the article, there are two primary ways to shave the cord. You can either reduce your cable TV subscription down to the cheapest and most basic package, or you can cancel your TV subscription and subscribe to a service like Sling TV, DirecTV, or PlayStation Vue.

Keep in mind that the average cable TV bill in the United States was $103 per month in 2017.

Reduce Your Cable Package

It’s impractical to look at every TV package on offer in the United States, so let’s just review some headline figures.

If you’re a Comcast customer, you can shave your package down to $39.99/month if you’re willing to accept an internet speed of 25 Mbps and no TV. If you want to keep 10 channels, you’ll have to pay $49.99/month.

cord cutting and cord shaving

However, the 10 channels will fail to excite. You can expect the usual litany of over-the-air networks (which are free to receive if you have an antenna What Can You Watch Using a TV Antenna? What if there was a cheap, legal way to gain access to many of the big networks? You'd probably lap it up. Well, it turns out there is! Step forward the trusty TV antenna. Read More ), government and educational channels like C-SPAN, and ad-laden trash like the Home Shopping Network.

Another one of the major networks, Charter (formerly Time Warner), uses the tactics we mentioned earlier. Its cheapest internet package is $29.99/month, but it includes 125 (mostly junk) channels. An internet-only subscription will cost you as much as $64.99/month.

Add a Skinny Bundle?

If your internet speed is fast enough, you might decide to invest in a web-based skinny bundle.

The cheapest Sling TV package is $20/month, the cheapest DirecTV Now bundle is $35/month, and the cheapest PlayStation Vue price is $39.99/month.

Using these figures, we can conclude the average price of a basic cable TV is about $30, as is the cost of a basic skinny bundle. You can throw in a Netflix subscription and a Hulu subscription and still pay less than $80/month. It’s at least a $25 saving compared to the average American bill.

For the best savings, however, sacrifice a skinny bundle. Reduce your TV package down to the minimum and buy an antenna. You could save more than 50 percent of the average bill.

Are You a Cord Cutter or Cord Shaver?

Now we want to hear from you. Do you prefer the idea of cord cutting or cord shaving? What do you perceive to be the pros and cons of the two different approaches? Perhaps you’ve even become a cord shaver yourself. If so, what advice can you give others considering doing the same thing?

Image Credit: BonNontawat/Depositphotos

Related topics: DirecTV, Hulu, Media Streaming, Netflix, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV.

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  1. Paul
    January 24, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Cut the cord 3.5 years ago, around the beginning of this trend. It was tough at first, but over time things have gotten better. I now have a Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and a PC all tied into my TV. We're too far out to get good over the air reception consistently, but when the weather is good we can get most of the channels we want. Our subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, CBS, and AmazonPrime still don't add up to a cable bill.

  2. Warren Warshaw
    January 23, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    TV over the internet is not as fast & reliable as cable TV, either wired or wireless. Never will be.

    • Paul
      January 24, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Spoken like a good cable company rep.

      • Warren Warshaw
        January 24, 2018 at 5:03 pm

        No I'm not actually, but LOL

  3. Doc
    January 23, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    "If you can't cut the chord, you need to try Chord Shaving instead!"

    Whoever wrote the copy for your newsletter needs a kick in the head.

    • sam
      January 23, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Yes, but that kick needs to be REALLY hard. This is marketing fluff at its best. "cord shaving" is an idiotic marketingspeak that simply means you get crap channels but still pay for cable you don't watch any way. Sort of like having a car you don't have wheels for but keep in the driveway because well, it's a car.

      I love those articles on here that talk about "cord cutting" which leave out the fact that most providers have a "triple play" option that makes your cable rise rise sometimes as much as the cost of cutting cable tv but having to keep internet because, you can't use sling or any of those other "alternative cable" providers without cable first coming IN to your place.

      We need municipal networks. Like a lot of small and large towns that are starting to provide it at about half the cost of monopolistic cable companies that try to quash the initiatives under BS marketing campaigns. THEN we can have better cable.

  4. Dee
    January 18, 2018 at 2:34 am

    My cable/Internet bill was topping out at close to 150 per month. My cable included alot of channels I had no interest in. I cut all my services. I bought a Clear Channel antenna for local channels, subscribed to Amazon, Netflix and Hulu and have low speed internet. Now my bill is $30.

  5. Tony
    January 18, 2018 at 2:01 am

    I cut the cord about 6 months ago and donot miss it at all ?. Got tired of those greedy turds. I'm using plex, Hulu and sharing netflix with my brother since both of us only need one streaming instance at a time. Saving a ton of money and completely happy.

  6. Rockanova
    January 18, 2018 at 12:35 am

    I just recently cut the cord as soon as my two year contract ended with Verizon. I only have Internet+phone (no deals, no contract) with Amazon Prime with Firetvstick with Hulu with a Showtime subscription. I bought a digital antenna for the local stations and also purchased my own Verizon Router. I use a vatiety of streaming apk's like Terrarium TV, and even tried Set TV, which for $20 per month with what they give you is hard to beat. I'm saving almost $100 a month cutting the cord....

    • sam
      January 23, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      I just checked, SetTV has a great lineup. Doens't support Roku. Has no idea when they are going to support Roku and has NO email signup notification system where they'll contact you IF they have a Roku app.

  7. Stanley Powell
    January 17, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I do both. We've always had Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Pureflix; but when we want to watch live tv we use our anntenna; Vader streams; set tv; and sling. We rotate these services on and off. Generally we get all channels, in market and out of market games for less than $30 month.

  8. Lenny Nachreiner
    January 17, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Correction I mean what local channels does directv now offer in the 56073 area?

  9. Lenny Nachreiner
    January 17, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    What lower channels does directv now offer in the 56073 area?

  10. Joe
    January 17, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    This article reads like it was written by the cable companies to bump up their subscriptions. There are a number of reasons why consumers are opting to cut the cord. Lack of bandwidth is hardly one of them. Here are some you didn't really address.

    No commercials - This is a huge one. Why should I pay $50+ for programming when an hour long TV show can contain 15+ minutes of commercials.

    Increasing fees/shady practices - Costs continually increase with cable. They also like to suck you in with a sweet deal and then up your cost a year later. With Netflix and Hulu, I never have to worry about this.

    Binge watching - Simply put, you can't effectively binge watch your favorite show on cable TV. If they offer a show on demand, it doesn't always include all seasons and most of the time it includes commercials. Whats worse is that it is usually the same commercials over and over.