Get cable TV on the cheap
New lower-priced cable plans allow subscribers to scale back their monthly bills without cutting the cord completely.
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner siteSmartMoney.
While subscribers to fiber-optic service and satellite saw last year's average monthly bills jump 15% and 12%, respectively, research firm Centris found that cable subscribers are now paying 1% less -- an average of $69.70 per month. (Which is also cheaper than the average $76.80 for satellite and $99.67 for fiber-optic.)
Experts say it's the start of a shift as cable companies introduce new, lower-cost plans with a more limited selection of channels to grab market share from other pay-TV providers -- and to keep budget-conscious customers from cutting the cord altogether. "They need to upgrade their overall offering to compete," says Bob Harris, chief executive for utility comparison site WhiteFence.
Among the new offerings: Cable provider Cox Communications recently announced it would roll out a $35 "TV Economy" package with a smaller selection of channels in all of its markets. After testing a similar $30 "TV Essentials" deal in 2010, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson says it now offers the 12-month promotion to all subscribers, with a jump after the first year to roughly $50 a month, depending on the region. "Folks are still making decisions with their wallets in mind," says a spokesperson. "Obviously, anything that appeals to customers makes us more competitive." And in select areas, Comcast is testing a basic "MyTV Choice" plan that costs $25 a month, plus $10 apiece for extra channel bundles.
Such plans aren't a perfect fit for all subscribers. Favorites such as ESPN are notably absent from the scaled-back channel lineups, and so are now-commonplace features such as DVR and video-on-demand, says Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst for Frost & Sullivan. "For some people, that will be OK, but it's not going to satisfy the majority of users," he says. "I don't know that those are really packages that will go mainstream."
It still may be worth a look. By comparison site BillShrink's estimate, the average consumer could shave as much as $800 off his or her pay-TV bill over the course of a year.
Assess supplier options
There's usually just one cable provider in a given area, but with telecom and satellite companies continuing to branch out, consumers generally do have at least three choices for where to get their content, says Harris. (WhiteFence details options by address, as does BillShrink.) Post continues below.
Prices can vary substantially, and even if you're not ready to switch, mentioning a competitor's offer can often trigger a better deal. The catch: getting a provider's best price often requires bundling in Internet and home phone service, too. Experts suggest checking for reviews of service in the area to ensure you're not switching to tortoise-speed Internet or a spotty phone connection. Providers may also offer different deals to consumers who sign up via phone or online, so it's worth calling after crunching the numbers online.
Slim channel choices
Cable providers are on to something with their new plans: Most households don't need nearly as many channels as they subscribe to, says analyst Rayburn. Customers should ask their provider if there's a smaller bundle they can shift to -- for example, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson says the new "TV Essentials" is actually a mid-range plan offering 38 more channels than the $20-a-month basic offering. Although Comcast's $25 offer is currently only in select markets, all subscribers have access to a 50-channel plan for $30, says a spokesperson. "Our goal is to have something for everyone," she says.
Online offerings such as Hulu and Netflix could help make up for missing channels. But scale back carefully. Some packages aren't eligible for those cheap home-Internet-TV bundles, Rayburn says. That, and the subscription costs for an add-on video service, could actually make it cheaper to stick with more channels.
Cut the cord
Just 5% of households have a broadband Internet connection and no pay-TV option, according to Nielsen. "Realistically, there haven't been that many cord-cutters," says Rayburn. But he says that thanks to growing options for streaming via Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and other sites directly to a television, going without pay-TV can be an option.
"If you don't watch that much TV, you don't need cable," he says. Depending on their viewing habits, however, cord-cutting consumers may need to cobble together a workable solution using a few subscriptions and an over-the-air antenna for broadcast stations.
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I always laugh when I hear people talk about their high cable bills! Instead of paying $60 to $100 a month for cable or satellite I opted for buying used dvd's and blu-rays instead. My goal is to spend at least $60 every month.. I have been at for 13 years now and have over 1700 dvd's and bluray's in my collection. I read the news online daily and subscribe to services like netflix to supplement what i'm missing.. Most of my friends and family are always so jealous of all the the material I have and often ask if they can come over and watch movies or just borrow something! -As for regular TV shows the solution is simple; I simply have a digital TV tuner/outdoor antenna and a DVR I purchased online. I can watch movies and TV shows from any of my sources: DVR, NETFLIX(RENATL),NETFLIX (STREAMING), DVD, BLU-RAY :)
My costs are:
1)$30/month internet (broadband)
3)$250 HD DVR AND DVD RECORDER (one time purchase online which I don't have to rent, I own it!)
4)$60 For USED discs (never new!)
I usually spend about $100 a month on internet and and my home library of movies and TV..
I literally have more movies than I have time to watch!
Even If I came into money troubles I could easily sell my collection for a quick $2000! Try doing that with your cable bill!
Doing so has allowed me to cancel cable TV from the budget as it no longer makes sense to pay the monthly bill.
no hardware needed
C-BAND OR KU BAND FTA DISH = free satellite, lots of international programming, PBS and spanish language, sports and in the wild news reporting feeds. $300-1000 with installation.
Cable and TV satellite bills can cost $75-150 a month now, the pricing is just insane.
There are plenty of ways to cut corners and save money!
And over half of the channels you get are infomercials. They tell you that you will receive over 1oo channels for a price, then you find most of them are trying to sell you stuff.
NO monthly fees! :)
the trouble with cable and sattelite is they force you to pay for a lot of channels you don't want, I don't watch sports, but you have to take espn and others . espn is expensive therefore they force everyone to buy it. home shopping, foreighn channels,lik telemundo etc. I don't watch those either but there are a lot of those included, infmercial channels they are included, who wants those? pay per view? they say you get 100, or more channels for the price but 2/3 of the channels are these filler channels, not acrtual channels people really watch. I had 200 channels with dish at 70.00 per month, I only watch about 15 of the channels, most were spports, spanish, infomercials, home shopping, pay per view, Like I said just filler channels and a lot of them were repeats under a different channel no. duplicate shows. so yeah, cable priced by what you order and only that, would be a better idea. I think if sports fanatics want espn, then make them pay a premium price for it, don't ding everybody to make up the cost!!
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