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Hulu and Showtime Offer New Streaming Bundle

Hulu and Showtime Offer New Streaming Bundle

As the battle between cable television and cord cutters continues, Hulu and Showtime have teamed up to offer a new service. This streaming bundle offers the content from Hulu's entire library (including what used to be reserved for "Hulu Plus," a label that was dropped as part of the new service). It also offers all of the content from Showtime, offered in a commercial-free streaming format. What's not to love? It all comes down to how cord cutters receive the news.

How Do Costs Differ?

The war between cable and cutting the cord is primarily one of cost. Cord cutters seek more freedom and flexibility to receive only the programming that is desired, without paying for non-desired programs as well. The trick here is to be able to buy only what is wanted, and still put together a bundle that costs less than a traditional cable subscription package. For many cord cutters, this is proving more difficult than anticipated!

A cost overview (using Hulu and Showtime):

-Right now, cord cutters receiving Showtime only through Apple TV, Roku or other alternatives pay $11 per month.

-Right now, standalone Hulu subscribers pay $8 per month.

-Those cord cutters who want to receive both Hulu and Showtime pay $17 total (when they add Showtime through Hulu for an additional $9 per month).

This might sound great initially, but what about cord cutters who also want access to the content on Netflix, and on Amazon? Netflix bundles start at $7.99 for streaming only, and Amazon's content comes only with an annual Prime membership ($99 per year payable in one lump sum). On Amazon, it is possible to rent just one episode, movie, or whole series at a time, with varying costs. Netflix offers no such options.

So for all four services, the baseline cost would be around $34 per month (assuming the Prime cost is broken down into its $8.25 per month cost). Unfortunately, now this is putting cord cutters back into the realm of a basic cable subscription, and there are some pretty sweet deals for newcomers, returnees, and those who threaten to jump over to a competitor's service.

Taking a Look at Basic Cable

Basic cable is a far cry from those "hundreds of channels" subscriptions cord cutters are so eager to avoid. Rather, basic cable nets viewers the usual assortment of network television channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and the like) plus a handful of additional channels, most of which are somewhat unexciting (shop-at-home, educational and political programming, public access programs).

But the cost can be exciting indeed - in many areas, basic cable will run a subscriber around $15 to $20 per month (not including the one-time fees for the equipment and setup, if needed). This can come in especially handy in areas where digital antenna do not perform up to expectations. As well, opting for a basic cable subscription package may generate additional offers from the cable company to upgrade the subscription for less than a new full package subscriber might pay.

How to Choose the Best Deal

Ultimately, the one clear "win" for all viewers is this: with more options come, well, more options! Even for viewers, it may take some calculating to figure out where their favorite content is streaming from and how to put together their own bundle that is also cost advantageous. It can also be helpful here to factor in any new equipment costs (for instance, an investment in a Roku box to replace the cable gear one is no longer using) that may temporarily drive the costs up.

But with careful analysis and some rudimentary number crunching, as well as an ever-increasing menu of options to pick and choose from, cord cutters can begin working towards the ideal home entertainment library that represents their interests, family situation and budget. For now, it remains to be seen how successful the new Hulu and Showtime partnership may be, but one thing is certain - it won't be the last partnership on the horizon for cord cutters in search of affordable alternatives.