Cable TV is expensive, and the prices are going nowhere but up. What’s more, your cable bill can jump without warning and reason from anywhere between $5 and $20. These increases may seem small, but over time they add up and hurt your monthly budget. This money could go towards your retirement savings or next vacation instead of disappearing into your TV screen.
According to recent research from Leichtman Research Group, the average cable bill in the U.S is $107. Unlike other utility bills, such as electric and water, you can stop paying your cable bill. It is a luxury and not a necessity. Although the internet opens up a host of content much cheaper, many people still depend on traditional cable service for sports, news, and entertainment.
If you still want to watch cable TV but save on the monthly bills, then take control of your cable bill before it takes control of your budget or credit card.
Why is cable so expensive?
Many components make up the price for your cable bill. A big chunk goes to major broadcasters, such as CBS, NBC, and FOX, who remove their channels from a cable provider’s list until that provider agrees to pay more for their content. This increase in cost invariably gets transferred to the consumers who have to pay more to watch the same channels as before. It may not seem very fair, but it is legal.
The official explanation behind the increasing cost of cable TV is the retransmission fees. There is a provision in federal law that allows media corporations to charge local providers for retransmitting their signals. Now the local cable or satellite provider has a choice: either raise its prices to retransmit the station’s broadcast signal or drop and blackout its channels.
It seems like the consumers don’t have a say in all this, but that’s not the case. Here are several strategies to lower your cable bill.
#1. Drop the Premium Channels
Cutting back on premium cable channels is an excellent first step that will save you money. It can be hard to say goodbye to HBO for example, but it can actually save you as much as $20 off the monthly bill with some service providers. If you drop Showtime, you could save between $5 and $15 per month. The way to do it is to assess what you watch and then get rid of the extras or downgrade your plan.
Review your plan and see which channels come with it. Do you need all of them? How long do you watch some of the channels? Cutting the sports packages and some of the premium channels you least watch is an easy way to save from your cable bill without making drastic changes.
Make a List
Make a list of the channels you watch; this will help you narrow things down. There is a good chance that you will end up with a less expensive cable package without compromising much. If there is a show you don’t want to miss and you keep a channel only because of it, you can remove the channel when the season ends.
Internet + Other Features
The same goes for the internet and all the features you have. If you evaluate your monthly usage, you will see if you need the fastest internet. If you are paying for features you don’t need, then drop them. Otherwise, all of these unnecessary things are just a waste of money.
The premium channels and some features come as first freebies (e.g., HBO), which means they come free for a while (usually six months), but after that, you are charged for them. Many people overlook this fact. But if you want to save on your cable bill, you can either ask for these to be removed or exchanged for other features and upgrades like faster internet.
You need to be careful with the promotional offers when accepting any deal. Make sure you know exactly when the extra features expire and remember to call and cancel them before the time is up. That’s if you don’t want to be paying extra for them.
#2. Bundle the Services
One of the easiest ways to lower your monthly expenses for cable satellite TV is to bundle the services you use – internet, cable, and phone. Wait until the provider has an excellent promotional rate on these packages, call the customer service and get them all together. If there is no promotion running at the moment, then you can talk to the salespeople and negotiate one by switching between packages. All it takes is a little bit of research, patience, and calls to the provider.
Another thing you can do is call a competitor and pick one of their packages. Usually, if you are a new customer, they are willing to make a discounted offer.
#3. Say No to Two-Year Contracts
Typically, the two-year contracts come at a handsome price. However, in the end, it is better if you stay with a month-to-month or a short term contract. If you go for the 24 months contract, you have to stick with the company and have no leverage to make changes during this time. You cannot ask for a discount or negotiate the initial conditions in any way.
With the two-year contracts, you will pay just as much or even more compared to plans without a contract. Also, if you are not happy with the service and you want to change the provider you will have to pay a fee.
#4. Buy the Equipment
One way to eliminate part of the monthly payment is to buy a modem, router, cable box, or set-top box. Equipment fees can increase without you even noticing. What you can do is buy your router and modem (or other necessary equipment) that meets your provider’s requirements and stop paying those fees.
Keep in mind, however, that if something happens to your modem or router, you are responsible for its repair or replacement. Conversely, if the cable company provides the equipment, then they will replace it for free.
#5. Negotiate a Better Price
Sometimes it can be as simple as calling the customer service and asking for a discount or a better deal. If you are nearing the end of your contract period, this is the perfect time to talk pricing with your provider. Just give them a call and ask the service representative what they can do for you. You might be surprised at the result.
Of course, it depends on the person you get on the call and your approach. To maximize your chances, be very kind and patient. If you get a NO, don’t give up. Be prepared to call back until you get a person who will help you.
Check Out the Competition
Another way to maximize your chances for a better deal is to play the competition card. Take some time to research the cable companies in your area and record their prices. Make a list of all the offers that you could sign up for if your provider doesn’t offer you a good deal.
When you have all this information, you can call your provider’s customer service and show them you know exactly what is available out there. You will make it clear to them that you are willing to cancel your service because you have a replacement in mind. Also, it is helpful to mention any gift cards, discounts, or extra features that the competition offers, and you are interested in.
Opt to Go Without
If you live in an area with not much competition, then you can always say you will go without cable TV. Companies will always compete against that.
If being nice and negotiating doesn’t work, then it’s time to step up your game. Many sales reps will react if you say you are leaving, and that’s when they will start pulling those deals to keep you. If this doesn’t bring you the result you wanted, you can call the complaints department and say you are unhappy with the price of your current plan. Some plans are not advertised but are available to the sales and customer support people to retain customers. Those are good, and that’s what you are aiming for.
#6. Consider Alternatives
Before calling your provider, it’s a good idea to research the alternatives in your area. You may be surprised at what you can find out there. Some of the most exciting streaming services with growing popularity are YouTube TV and Hulu. The best part is that these have free trials, so you can test them out before signing up. We have made a list of alternatives at the end of this article, so check them out because they may be precisely what you’re looking for.
You can always cut your cable. If you want to watch a big game, you can go to a local bar or friend’s house. Even better – consider replacing the time spent watching TV with walks outside or reading a book. There are so many exciting things you can do with your time instead of staring at a screen. It may surprise you, but after some time you may realize you don’t even miss it…
The Best Cable Alternatives to Lower Your Cable Bill
This service is so popular that it doesn’t need an introduction. It has countless original series, a long list of movies, and so much more. Moreover, there are no commercials, and you can watch the content anywhere. There are also no contracts or hidden fees, and the prices start from $ 7.99 a month. They have three main packages with different options and channels, plus a large selection of additional features.
Hulu offers a great mix of sports, news, and entertainment. It also has an on-demand streaming service with movies, original series, and shows all at a very affordable price. The experience is ad-free, which makes it even better. Their live TV is a little bit more expensive (around $40 per month), but with it, you can watch shows live just as you would with traditional cable. If you decide to go with Hulu, it’s essential to understand which channels you will have access to.
YouTube’s TV is gaining a lot of traction and popularity. It is a cable-free live TV alternative to standard cable. It’s great for sports fans, but some entertainment networks are missing from the offering. For example, you will not have channels, such as TLC or the Food Network. The monthly price is similar to Hulu live TV, but for 60+ networks, it is an attractive alternative.
Philo is a relatively new service that offers low-cost cable packages. Like the other options, it is an internet-based streaming service, so take a good look at the channels you will be getting for this low price. If you are not a big sports fan, then Philo is a good option for you because you have access to a long list of entertainment networks for around $20 per month.
If you want to stay as close as possible to traditional cable, then Sling TV is a good option. The price point is low, and their philosophy is “no useless channels.” Here you will find channels like ESPN, Food Network, and more at a more reasonable price. It is one of the cheapest ways to get some popular cable TV networks.
If you have the 2-day Amazon Prime service, then you already have access to their streaming service, Prime Video. If you don’t, you can pay $9 per month for this component. All the content is in the Prime Library, but you can also watch single TV episodes and entire series out of it.
This service cannot replace cable TV, but it is an attractive alternative to consider. It already has several original shows and will expand its sports coverage this year. In 2018, Facebook streamed the 25 MLB games. The quality of the streaming was not the best, and viewers complained about delay issues. Still, this further illustrates how the landscape of TV has shifted.
This option is a little bit more expensive than other alternatives but still not among the most expensive plans. It has a live HD stream of a long list of channels with popular networks like TLC, HGTV, and others.
Don’t be fooled by the name – this streaming service is available to everyone even if you don’t own a PlayStation device. You can stream the content on a web browser from your phone or tablet. Although it may cost more than other streaming services we’ve mentioned, it is still cheaper than what you pay for a local cable package.
AT&T Watch TV
This streaming service is among the low-cost options. It has no sports, and the monthly charge is around $15.
This service is definitely on the expensive side. Depending on the package, prices range from $30 to $70. However, the service offers a long list of channels between 60 and 120, which makes it the closest to traditional cable.
This is not a streaming option; it’s another way to avoid paying for cable TV. You may be surprised at how many local channels you can watch without a cable package by merely using an HD antenna at home. Different areas have a different number of channels they can access. For example, some rural areas can access up to 50 channels, while urban areas could have as many as 73 or more. Either way, all of this is free! One drawback – not everyone can get an HD or digital antenna at the necessary height in their house or apartment building.
If you want to watch your favorite shows on the go, you can download the free channel mobile apps. They work great on tablets or smart TVs. Unfortunately, the content is not ad-free, but the money you save every month is worth it. Most big cable networks have apps so you can watch recent episodes for free. Keep in mind, however, you may have to wait a bit after they’ve been broadcasted to watch them on the app. So, if you can stay away from spoilers, this is a great option.
Some channels have paid apps, which means that if you are a fan of a particular channel or show and you decide to cut the cable, you can access a given series for a meager price. You can watch your favorite show for about $5-$7 dollars a month. Be careful with some channels, because they don’t give you the option to get the app without paying a cable subscription.
Lower Your Cable Bill: Series Finale
There are many ways to save money on entertainment without giving up your favorite movies and shows. The first step is to check your favorite TV channels online. Visit their website, brose YouTube, and see what you can find. You may find movies and episodes online that you can watch for free or for a small fee.
For a more comprehensive list of options, consider signing up for one of the alternative streaming services mentioned above. Most of them come with a free trial period, anywhere between seven and thirty days to decide if a service is right for you. Many of these alternatives don’t require a contract, so you can stop using them whenever you want. That gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom, and it saves you money.
There is a good chance that this article mentioned a better, cheaper option if you want to cancel your cable TV subscription. Give these streaming alternatives a try and see if they fit your viewing needs. Many people say that after trying, they didn’t want to go back to cable.
It will pay to take the information from this article and use it to save money on cable and satellite TV subscriptions. Even if you pick just one alternative or decide to implement one of the strategies, you will end up paying less than you are now!