Do you have to pay $100 or more per month for pay TV service?

Click Amazon: Roku Premiere: $69.

Short answer: No. And you would be crazy to do so. (That is, unless you subscribe to every premium channel available under the sun.)

The question came up today in a Twitter debate following my story on whether you can save money by cutting the cord (dropping pay TV service.) My article explains that despite what some publications have recently reported, you can save money if you subscribe to a relatively small number of streaming services in addition to Internet service.

Samsung UN55KU6600 Curved 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2016 Model)
Click Amazon: See today’s top-selling TVs!

However, if you subscribe to several streaming services, you might wind up paying close to what you now pay for cable or satellite TV.

Jared Newman, a writer, and unapologetic cord-cutter, took issue on Twitter with my contention that you could subscribe to a pay TV video service — and the Internet — for $100 a month. Mind you, you wouldn’t get as many channels — or the fastest Internet service — but you could get that price.

Newman tweeted, however, that people are paying an average of $100 a month for TV service alone. Consequently, he concluded, there was no way to walk away with a TV/Internet plan for $100 a month.

Click Amazon: Today’s top deals on Blu-ray movies.

But perhaps in his zeal to promote cord-cutting, Newman overlooked that several pay TV services (including Dish and DIRECTV) offer promotional plans of roughly $50 a month for nearly 200 channels. (He also neglected to note that the $100 a month average includes people who subscribe to multiple premium channels, such as HBO or Showtime.)

At $50 a month, even if you factor in equipment fees and miscellaneous expenses such as regional sports fees, you would still pay far less than $100 a month, and perhaps as little as $65 a month. Add a moderately-priced Internet plan, and you are around $100 a month or less.

Click Amazon: Today’s 1-Day-Only Deals!

It is true that the promotional prices will expire after a year or two, but at that point, you can negotiate a different deal, or switch services.

Yes, believe it or not, you can negotiate with your cable or satellite company. I’ve done it, and I now pay $77 a month to DIRECTV for more than 200 channels. And I don’t have a two-year agreement.

However, if at anytime DIRECTV decides to significantly raise my bill, I will call Comcast (my local cable operator) and negotiate a new deal.

Sony XBR43X800D 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD TV (2016 Model)
Click Amazon: See 4K TVs For Under $1,000.

My point is that no consumer should pay what hotels call ‘the rack rate’ for TV and Internet service. In today’s highly competitive environment, pay TV companies are desperate to hold on to their subscriber bases, and attract new customers. They will make deals, if you simply ask.

And if they don’t, tell them you’re walking away. And then do so if they don’t relent. The rival cable, satellite, or telco company up the street will be happy to hear from you.

— Phillip Swann