Disney Plus price hike — is streaming more expensive than cable now?

Computer with logo: Netflix , HBO MAX, APPLE TV PLUS, NETFLIX, PRIME VIDEO are online video streaming services
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With a price hike for one of our best streaming services on the way — this time it's a Disney Plus price hike — it’s reasonable to wonder if streaming TV in the U.S. is now just as expensive as cable. You might even imagine that cable is now the cheaper option.

If you are thinking that to yourself right now, you’re not alone. A recent Financial Times article in the wake of Disney Plus' price increase claimed that cable will cost you less than ordering a variety of streaming services a la carte. 

This is based on the Financial Times' claim that the average cable TV package costs $83 a month now. When I looked at prices in Atlanta though, I found things to be a bit more expensive. Xfinity from Comcast was anywhere between $101.20 to $121.20 a month even before equipment charges to get 125-plus channels. Verizon Fios TV  cost at least $75 a month to get a comparable offering, though again without all taxes and fees included.

So I wanted to put this claim to the test. Is cable finally cheaper again after all these new price hikes? Or does that depend on how many streaming services you have? With new password crackdowns, this question is more important than ever since you’ll be out of options when it comes to borrowing a friend or family member’s account.

First, let’s get into how much these service cost now that the monthly rate for Disney Plus is going up.

How much does it cost to get the best streaming services?

Right now, if you’re looking for one of the best streaming services, you have seven options: Max, Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, Peacock, Paramount Plus and Apple TV Plus. There are others out there — notably Prime Video — but these are the big mainstream ones that regularly have the best new TV shows and movies. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Monthly price
Hulu with ads$8
Netflix (Standard 1080p)$15.49
Disney Plus with ads$8
Peacock Premium$6
Paramount Plus Essential$6
Apple TV Plus$7

I’ve put together a table featuring the cheapest plans for all seven streaming services. That means lots of ad-supported platforms. With Netflix, I went with the Standard plan with 1080p streaming, as Netflix with ads actually forces you to forgo some of Netflix’s content library (likely due to licensing reasons and contracts). 

Adding all those services up, you end up paying $66.49 a month, which is definitely approaching cable TV's monthly rate. However, there are still a couple of places you can save.

First, you can ditch Paramount Plus and Apple TV Plus. While both streaming services have a lot to offer, they don’t make our shortlist of the best streaming services. If you remove those from your monthly total, you get your bill down to a slightly more manageable $53.49 a month.

Then, there’s the Disney Duo Bundle. This gives you Hulu and Disney Plus, both with ads, for just $10 a month. That saves you another $6 a month, bringing your monthly bill down to $47.49. That's a far cry from $83-plus some folks pay each month for cable TV.

Streaming service price hikes: What if I don’t want ads?

If you don’t want ads, things get pricey. Below is a table of the same seven streaming services from before, only featuring their ad-free tiers. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Monthly price
Hulu no ads$18
Netflix (Standard 1080p)$15.49
Disney Plus no ads$14
Peacock Premium Plus$12
Paramount Plus with Showtime$12
Apple TV Plus$7

As you can see, things cost a lot more if you want an ad-free experience. In the case of Hulu without ads, the price more than doubles from the ad-free version, a truly eyebrow-raising move. Peacock also gets a serious price hike, as does Paramount Plus, as both require you to take on add-ons to skip pesky ads. Peacock Premium adds a live NBC feed and Paramount Plus also adds access to Showtime and its library of TV shows and movies.

Adding these options up, you get into the same price range as monthly cable bills. For all seven streamers, you would pay $94.49 a month, more than the $83/month cable TV bill claimed by Financial Times and potentially more than the $75 a month price I found for FIOS. But ditch Paramount Plus with Showtime and Apple TV Plus, and that monthly bill goes down to $75.49, which is probably better than cable though still pricey.

However, the Disney Duo Premium Bundle can save you a lot here. Subscribing to Hulu with no ads and Disney Plus with no ads separately costs a whopping $32 a month. With the Disney Bundle, that price gets cut to just $20 a month. That brings your monthly bill down by $12 to $53.49 a month and for just $2 more than the cost of Hulu with ads alone

In short, if you want Hulu and Disney Plus, you should be getting the Duo bundle — with or without ads. Disney is seemingly doing everything it can to ensure you don’t only pick Hulu.

Streaming is still cheaper than cable — for now

Best streaming services

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Even using the Financial Times benchmark of $83 a month, cable is still more expensive than the best streaming services — though the gap is now smaller than ever. Even with ads, and getting all seven of the big mainstream streaming services, you’re paying $82.49 a month. Ditch a couple of those or suffer through ads, and you can get every streaming service on our shortlist for significantly less than an average monthly cable bill.

Plus, in this age of streaming content, you’re still going to need streaming services to get access to some of the best TV shows and movies. If you want to watch our favorite new movies on Max, you need a Max subscription through Max or your cable provider. It's the same idea for new shows and movies on Netflix. While cable will give you hundreds of channels, the harsh reality is that it misses out on some of the best content out there right now.

But there’s no hiding that streaming services are getting more and more expensive, forcing many to have to choose what to keep and what to cancel. If you find yourself needing to save some money, check out our guide to the best free streaming services. While they won’t offer the same selection of new shows and movies, they offer hundreds to thousands of hours of free streaming for those looking to save some money. 

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.