Q. My monthly payment for cable TV keeps going up and they just raised it again. I am now paying over $120 a month just for TV. Is there any way to get my bill lower? –Kelly, Greenbelt, Maryland.
Kelly, I hear you. Due to higher programming costs, and a few other reasons perhaps less justified such as pure greed, most cable and satellite providers annually raise their subscribers’ monthly fees. Comcast, DIRECTV, Dish and Charter’s Spectrum are among the cable/satellite services that recently raised their rates.
In addition to paying more for your programming package, cable and satellite operators routinely increase fees for other services, too, such as DVRs, Internet modems, regional sports channels, and the dreaded broadcast fee (local channels).
After they add it all up — and squeeze in taxes and other miscellaneous charges — it feels like you need a loan officer just to watch TV or access the Internet.
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But there are some things you can do to lower your bill. Two are obvious. One may not be and I’m calling it, ‘The secret to saving money on your TV bill.’
First, the obvious ones:
1. Switch to a Less Expensive TV Service
With the explosion of streaming has come the multi-channel, live streaming service such as Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu Live. They offer dozens of channels in packages starting at $35 a month. (Sling TV starts at $35 a month; FuboTV starts at $64.99 a month; DIRECTV Stream starts at $69.99 a month; YouTube TV starts at $64.99 a month; and Hulu Live starts at$69.99 a month.) The live streamers also don’t require two-year contracts, equipment fees or cancellation fees.
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One caveat here is that live streaming lineups often are missing certain channels (particularly sports) that you might consider must-see. Plus, they are not as technically reliable as cable and satellite, which means your picture may occasionally suffer some buffering. And the streamers can raise their prices, too, just not as often or as much.
But there’s no doubt that live streaming is a serious alternative for consumers who love TV, but hate the growing costs of cable and satellite.
In addition to the live streamers, you could discontinue all live viewing and simply watch a few subscription Video on Demand streamers such as Netflix and Amazon. The combination of those two services would come to less than $25 a month, and it would be even less than that if you already have an Amazon Prime sub.
2. Cut Your Programming Plan
If you are unwilling to break free from cable or satellite, take a close look at your current TV bill and think real hard if you really need everything you’re getting. For example, some cable and satellite TV providers charge almost $20 a month to rent a HD DVR. If you don’t record many shows, you could get by with a less expensive receiver.
Also, do you subscribe to premium channels such as HBO and Showtime? They usually cost more than $10 a month. If you don’t watch them very often, why pay the extra cash?
Of course, if you are using these types of services, that’s a different story and I wouldn’t tell you to drop them. But give it some serious thought. You might be surprised that you’re paying for things you really don’t need.
With that in mind, what about your overall programming package? Do you need all the channels you’re getting? Would you be satisfied with a less expensive package that includes fewer channels?
For instance, if you don’t watch sports very often, some pay TV ops will offer cheaper plans that do not include sports channels. (These channels may also exclude regional sports channels, which will eliminate the regional sports fee.)
3. Pick up a Phone
After you’ve done this review, there’s one more thing you can do. Yes, the secret thing. And it is…
Pick up a phone.
Yes, pick up a phone and call your cable or satellite TV provider. Tell the customer service person that you believe your bill is too high and you want to know what he or she can do to lower it.
It may sound crazy, but TV providers will often work with you to cut your bill down. They have ‘retention’ departments that are dedicated to keep subscribers subscribing.
They may offer you a six-month or annual discount on a program package or a premium channel. The reason why is that they want to keep you as a subscriber. Tell them that you are seriously considering cancelling when you call and you will get their attention.
It may not work all the time. The cable operators, in fact, are less dependent on video subscriber numbers than they used to be because they have shifted some of their focus to Internet service. But it’s worth a try. You might walk away with more cash in your pocket.
Kelly, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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Get an outdoor/indoor antenna – hook up to tv for your locals or get Roku + Plex + HDHomeRun to get locals + DVR services + along with a ton of free tv channels with the premium Plex package. Some initial $$$ must be spent, but I’ve cut my DirecTV cost to zero!
CABLE satellite (especially drag it out tv FROM AT&T) and the rest are basically DEAD. MANY FREE OTA digital BROADCAST stations playing a LOT of the same stuff you USED to PAY CABLE for. THIS has been going on now for some time. INTERNET is CABLES CASH COW (for the present) and 5 G will eventually take a LOT of the pie away for that too. THEN INTERNET will some day GET OLD when ppl discover they have LOST all private and then ABANDON it to go BACK to a simple life (YES it will take TIME for THAT to happen too)
DICUVT ha ALWAYS BEEN an expensive alternative to CABLE and in many cases the ONLY choice if there was no cable. Dish has ALWAYS had it issues too…STREAMING is too much complication and WORKS for a number of ppl too. BOTTOM LINE you will CONTINUE to get NAILED in the wallet for …
AS LONG AS
Y-O-U let them have at you !!
IS TV really worth that any longer ?
Directv has been berry berry good to me, I’m sorry Davy feels ripped off, for some reason… Yes the satellite business, both of them are a dying breed, and it’s too bad… back in the 90s the BIG DISHES wend into the sh1tter, because evetone wanted ala mode… they got it, wound up paying more for less…. guess what? It’s going to happen again In case you aren’t aware? TANSTAAFL
I’m lucky, I gt programmed into one that allows me the best of what I LIKE, grandfathered in, I won’t change it…. Dish is screaming to buy Direct before they go tits up
Cut. The. Cord. Do a little homework and write down what shows you watch. Include news, movies and sports if those are regular things you watch. Then check out which streaming services provide the shows, news, sports, etc. that you want to watch. Remember, you don’t have to pay for a service all year if the shows, etc. that you watch don’t run all year. For example, if the only sport you watch is NFL then you only need to figure out a service for Sep through Feb.