I'm a cable glutton. I pay for a full package from AT&T's (NYSE: T) DirecTV with HBO and Showtime. I also have DISH Network's Sling TV for travel and use in our vacation home along with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime (though I don't pay for that because of the video), WWE Network, DC Universe, Hulu, and almost certainly something I'm forgetting.
Even though cutting the cord would make sense for me, I have always been willing to pay in order to not miss out. Maybe I will want to watch Australian rules football, robots fighting, or biographies of celebrities I barely remember, and not having a 235-plus-channel cable package (DirecTV apparently can't count exactly how many I'm getting) would mean I wouldn't be able to.
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In addition, until recently no discount streaming cable alternative offered a package that included local channels and the cable networks most important to me, my wife, and our 15-year-old son. Of course, I hadn't looked all that hard because I wanted to have that access to Mexican pro wrestling, Spanish translations of Bollywood films, and a station that's always airing The Shawshank Redemption that the full cable (satellite in my case) package gets you.
That changed when I noticed my monthly bill had crept over the $200 mark.
What did I do?
When I saw that my DirecTV bill had risen to $204.95 per month, I considered my options. Since I live in a condo, there's no option to select another provider or play two against each other. Because of that, my first stop was to check whether I could downgrade my cable package.
Doing that did not produce meaningful savings until the cuts I made actually caused me to lose channels someone in the family would consider important. With that option off the table, I considered switching completely to Sling TV, but the lack of local channels (and complete failure at picking them up via antenna) eliminated that option as well.
A quick check of the various services showed only one -- Hulu Live -- that offered local channels, and the weird mix of cable options that three people with very different entertainment needs all wanted most. That's not a slam on any of the other services. Any skinny bundle comes with sacrifices, and Hulu simply matched our needs better than the alternatives.
How much will I save?
Once we decided that Hulu Live would work, we dropped our roughly $30-a-month Sling TV package. We've also made plans to cut the cord with DirecTV, though we're giving ourselves a couple of weeks to catch up on shows saved to our DVR.
Once that relationship ends we'll cut another $204.95 in monthly bills, bringing our total cuts to about $234.95. Our Hulu package, which includes HBO, and an entertainment channels add-on pack will cost $67.87, leaving us over $166 ahead each month.
I'll almost certainly add ESPN+ ($4.99 a month) at some point, along with the not-yet-launched Disney+ (which Walt Disney has not released a price for). Even with those two additions, I'll still be spending around $150 a month without sacrificing any programming that's important to my family.
We weren't looking to cut the cord, and I was actually willing to pay pretty dearly to feel I was getting everything. Two hundred dollars, or $204.95, just seemed to be past the point of greed -- a number so big that it felt irresponsible not to do something different.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Daniel B. Kline owns shares of World Wrestling Entertainment. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.