How Has the Cost of Cable and Streaming Changed?

The average cost of cable TV and streaming services seems to be more expensive than ever. How have these prices changed over the years?

Are streaming prices outpacing cable?

TV Prices Rose Nearly 50% in the Last 10 Years

With the US inflation rate hitting a 40-year high, money’s getting tighter for most folks.1 Some people may negotiate their TV contracts, while others might cut the cord and switch to streaming, but either way, you’re looking at price increases over time.

We’ll go over some of the differences in TV prices for cable and satellite TV and streaming services in the past decade. Hopefully, it helps give you a better idea of what sort of increases to expect in the coming years and where you might be able to save.

Here’s the quick ‘n dirty on cable TV and streaming price hikes:

  • Streaming service prices rose by 48.90% from 2012 to 2022.2
  • Cable and satellite prices rose by 33.84% over the same period.3
  • The average monthly price of streaming rose from $7.55 to $11.24 over the last decade.
  • The average monthly cable and satellite TV price rose from $395.64 to $529.52.

Cable prices go up every year

Cable prices rose by $133.38 per month over the last 10 years. The average yearly price hikes have been as low as $6 or $7 but came close to $24 between 2016 and 2017.

In January 2022, cable and satellite TV prices hit an average of $529.52. And with nationwide inflation, it’s hard to imagine that cable’s getting cheaper anytime soon.

Yearly average price of cable and satellite TV (2012–2022)

(January) 2022 $529.52
Year Average cable and satellite package price
2012 $395.64
2013 $406.53
2014 $416.14
2015 $422.79
2016 $438.28
2017 $462.16
2018 $470.45
2019 $479.41
2020 $500.13
2021 $520.58

Why is cable so expensive?

With cable TV, you pay for your monthly package, channel add-ons, equipment rental, movie rentals, taxes, fees, and maybe a few pay-per-view events in a year.

Then you have all the network infrastructure, maintenance costs, and other labor involved with keeping cable coming into your crib. Plus, companies have to compete with new technology (Cloud DVR wasn’t always a thing, kids!).

Plus, if you keep your cable and internet TV bill together, that cost varies with your channel counts and internet speeds (as well as any extra equipment or services). We’d recommend double-checking your cable and internet package options if you’re looking to save. You get by with fewer channels or slower internet speeds.

Beyond that, each company has its standards and reasons for raising prices. And that includes the companies that they license their TV content from, and so on.

So, your cable prices may increase even when your channel lineups don’t change much, if at all. As long as there’s demand for TV, we’d expect prices to rise over time.

Cord-cutters aren’t exempt from price hikes either. Streaming service prices increased even more than cable and satellite TV.

Streaming service prices rose by nearly 50% in the last 10 years

From 2012 to 2022, the prices for streaming services averages out at $10.22. But in January 2022, the average price for monthly streaming services was $11.24. That’s a buck higher than the previous decade, which might not seem like much, but let’s compare it to prices from 10 years ago.

In 2012, you could get Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu for about $7 or $8. In 2014, students could get Amazon Prime at its lowest price for just over $4.

Netflix came close to doubling its price in the decade with a nearly 90% increase, while Amazon jumped up by 34% and Hulu increased by 25%. These are the “big three” streaming services, so they likely don’t have to worry so much about losing customers to other (“lesser”) services with price increases.

The cost of streaming services adds up with each service you subscribe to. And while cable TV customers may have a huge lineup at their disposal, we’ve also learned that most cable customers add streaming services to their cable package.

We don’t expect the cost of cable, satellite, and streaming TV to go down in the coming years (if it ever will). But with a variety of high-quality cable packages and add-ons, plus a slew of streaming services, you can likely keep the channels and subscriptions you want.

Our recommendation is to figure out what you want and avoid “oversubscribing”—it could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Methodology

To analyze streaming service prices over the last decade, we collected data from archived news articles covering price increases for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, Apple TV, and Disney+.

To analyze cable and satellite pricing data over the last decade, we used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for cable and satellite television service in the US (which takes a city average of all urban consumers and isn’t seasonally adjusted).

Sources

  1. Olivia Rockeman, Bloomberg, “US Inflation Hit Fresh 40-Year High of 7.9% Before Oil Spike.” March 10, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2022.
  2. CableTV.com proprietary database
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Cable and Satellite Television Service in US, City Average, All Urban Consumers, Not Seasonally Adjusted,” Accessed February 28, 2022.

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