Cost, convenience and choice – it’s what’s driving a record number of Canadians to adopt subscription services, and in the process, cut the cable TV cord and change up their shopping habits.

Streaming services let you watch video on-demand and with most providers permitting two or more simultaneous streams with a single account, users have found it to be a cost-effective way to consume media. In 2020, as many stayed home and relied on streaming services for entertainment, digital subscriptions witnessed an uptick. 

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the factors you should consider before you sign up with a cable TV provider or choose a streaming service. 

Cable vs streaming: Factors to consider as you decide


Arguably one of the most compelling benefits of using subscription services is how they can help you stick to a budget. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the case of TV.

According to 2017 statistics from the CRTC, the average Canadian’s monthly cable bill was $52 CAD. For many who’ve upgraded to premium cable plans – which is often the only way to get the shows and channels you really want – that figure can climb to well over $100 CAD. Add to that the fact that signing up for cable usually involves additional installation and equipment rental fees, opaque pricing models, and can lead you down a path of restrictive contracts, pricey bundles, and an expensive package.

In contrast, a Netflix subscription will currently run you as little as $9.99 CAD per month. Depending on the plan, you can also share your account with a friend and split the bill to cut your payments in half. Even if you plan on juggling two different streaming services at the same time, you’ll still often pay less than what you would for a basic cable plan.

No Ads

By some estimates, there are 13.6 minutes of commercials per hour of cable television, which roughly translates to 22 per cent of total airtime. That’s a lot of time spent watching commercials and less on the shows you actually want to see. It’s something you can avoid as a streaming services subscriber that doesn’t air commercials at all. Ask any streaming subscriber why they made the switch from cable and, odds are, their response would include the lack of commercials.


Unlike cable, with movie and TV streaming services, you won’t have to waste time surfing channels in hopes of finding something you like. All subscribers have access to the same titles and can choose what they want to watch, and when, without having to worry about channels or a pre-destined broadcast schedule. You also won’t have to compromise on your movie and TV show choices, as you can be sure to find thousands of titles, many of which are critically-acclaimed programs.

Lastly, you can cancel a subscription at any time without having to worry about the possible repercussions of breaking a contract or altering a cable and internet bundle.

Unsure of streaming options?
See Top TV and movie streaming services in Canada to familiarize yourself with all available options and check out Best Canadian sports streaming services for sports fans for sports-specific streaming services.

While cable TV may offer some compelling reasons like the availability of hundreds of channels around the clock, no delays or buffering due to bandwidth limitations, user-friendly screens for the program guide, and 4K and HD cable boxes, Consumer Reports users typically give low scores to their cable companies in the annual surveys, dinging them for value and customer service.

If you’re looking to sign up for a new service (cable or streaming), make a list of channels you would like to watch and compare their cost across the cable providers in your area and a few streaming services. A little cost-benefit analysis should help you make an informed decision! 


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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.