Gee, the cost of all these streaming services sure adds up!

When I was a younger man, cutting the cord on cable TV was so easy. All you had to do was pay for Netflix, and you could watch practically every movie and TV show that ever existed.

As lots of other pundits have pointed out, it’s not so simple anymore. With every major tech company, media conglomerate, and telecom provider trying to grab a slice of that sweet streaming business, getting sufficient audiovisual stimulation at a reasonable price has become pretty much impossible. And trust me, as someone who’s covered cord-cutting for about five years now, I really did the math on this.

Not just Netflix anymore

Let’s start with the basics. Like most Americans, I’m already getting Netflix for $13 per month, and I’ll continue to do so even though it’s losing a bunch of valuable content (Friends! The Office!) to TV networks that now want to launch their own services. And because a trip to the store for the kiddo’s pull-ups is too much effort, I’m getting Amazon Prime Video as part of my $120-per-year Prime subscription. I’m also interested in Hulu at $6 per month—actually $12 per month, because I hate watching ads—to fill in some of those network shows that Netflix is now missing, plus Disney+ at another $6 per month to get back the Marvel films that are leaving Netflix. I don’t want to watch ads on YouTube, either, so let’s budget another $12 per month for YouTube Premium. (I wasn’t willing to go without Cobra Kai anyway.)

Why stop there, though? I’ve got see what old Jean-Luc Picard is up to these days, so of course I’m going to pay $6 per month for CBS All Access—actually, $10 per month, per the whole ad aversion thing—in anticipation of watching Star Trek: Picard in 2020. And although Game of Thrones is over, I might as well keep paying $15 per month for HBO Now on the off-chance that I’ll need a refresher. Maybe someday I’ll even get around to watching Barry.

As long as we’re talking premium channels, I’ve been meaning to see what Ray Donovan is all about—Liev Schreiber seems so serious about whatever it is he’s doing in all those promo shots—so let’s throw in another $12 per month for Showtime. Starz is also putting out good stuff these days with shows like Power, so that’s another $9 per month, and I don’t want to miss Epix’s foray into original content either, so count me in for $6 per month there. To be clear, I definitely paid for all of these channels as part of a cable package back in the day.

Rebuilding the bundle

Speaking of cable, I’m already closing in on $100 per month, which is the average price people pay for traditional TV packages, and I haven’t even started trying to replicate my old channel bundle, which I absolutely refuse to give up or scale back on. The Elite package on PlayStation Vue should do the trick; at $65 per month, it has practically every cable channel you can think of.

Well, not every channel. I’ve still got to watch NFL Redzone during football season, so that’s another $10 per month for Vue’s Sports Pack add-on. And because Sony dropped Viacom channels a few years ago, I’ll need to subscribe to Philo for another $20 per month so the kids can watch Nick Jr. (If I’m going to be spoiled for TV options, so should they.)

Have I mentioned yet that I’m a sports fan? Not even ESPN’s half-dozen cable channels are enough for me, so naturally I’m on board for ESPN+ at $6 per month. It’s got every Major League Soccer game, a whole bunch of boxing and UFC matches, scintillating originals such as Payton Manning telling you how other quarterbacks screwed up, and a backlog of weird college sports like squash. What more could you want?