What to Do If Your Cable TV Bill is Too High

by AJ Pettersen · 176 comments

Cable companies are a supreme example of a natural monopoly. They’re the easiest example for economics professors to use, because, due to structural conditions, only a few competitors can exist in any cable market. Often, there is only one option that consumers can choose. The consumer has no leverage and is thus at the mercy of the cable company.

Over the years, the price of cable has increased significantly. Luckily, other forms of technology and media have grown as well, leading to a shift in favor of the consumer.

If your cable bill is too high, you now have options. 

Netflix and Hulu Plus

The internet age has opened the door to new companies, such as Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus, to compete with cable companies.

Netflix offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows, while keeping their price low ($7.99/month). They offer full seasons of TV shows, movies, and HD quality video. While Netflix doesn’t offer a lot of newer shows, they make up for it with quality streaming and a huge array of movies. One account can have up to six devices, with up to four running at once. You can even split the cost among friends and family, which will reduce the price even more. I have had Netflix for over a year now and have been very satisfied.

For the same price as Netflix, Hulu Plus offers a similar platform with a different approach. Hulu Plus puts new episodes of shows on their site the day after they’re aired. My future sister-in-law and her husband have recently dropped cable in favor of Hulu Plus. They can now watch their favorite shows the day after they’re aired, for a fraction of the cost of cable and DVR.

Dish Network

The likes of Dish Network and DirecTV have been competing with the cable companies for a while, and they generally offer lower prices. My fiancé and I currently pay $50 a month for her cable bill, while Dish Network and DirecTV offer yearly contracts for $35/month and $30/month, respectively. For us, getting a dish is out of the question, because she lives in an apartment.

It could be a good option for homeowners, though, as they’ll get a full set of channels and could save a couple hundred dollars per year.

Call Customer Service

Sometimes, a call to customer service is enough to drop your monthly bill. If you look at the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes or AT&T U-Verse coupon codes, you’ll see that the bundle prices are usually guaranteed for one to two years. After that, the cable companies are free to raise their rates considerably.

If you call and say you’re considering switching companies, however, they’ll frequently offer you a “one-time” special offer. This may seem like a backwards approach, but I’ve seen it work numerous times.

What Will You Do?

Is cable best for you? Spending $600 a year on cable is less than ideal, but it’s what my fiancé and I decided was right for us in our current situation. In the future, when we’re both working longer hours, we may consider switching to something different.

Thanks to advances in technology, we now have the ability to make choices about the way we consume our entertainment.

Use your free market power and shop for what is best for you.

How have you cut your cable TV costs? 

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

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{ 176 comments… read them below or add one }

Bundeld January 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

Netflix is definitely worth the $7 you pay for it. You stay legal by not downloading illegal copies yet you still get to see your favorite shows. Great share, thanks.

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paul January 12, 2014 at 10:55 am

That’s great if you don’t watch sports. I watch MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL networks on a daily basis. Also FSD for tigers games.

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Henry January 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I agree with Paul if you like sports you get left out in the cold. So what can you do?

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Rick February 9, 2014 at 7:41 am

Like me, you would have to just do with out and hope the games are aired on network channels. My cable provider (Direct TV) just hit me for another 25.00 bucks a month. said it was a “normal” yearly increase like I was supposed to be grateful. Geesh!
The options like Hulu and Netflix are only good IF the only thing you watch are movies.

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Linea January 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

There’s an option you left out … the good old antenna, which is nothing like what it was prior to the digital switchover in 2009. The quality is 720p just like digital cable or satellite, and way better than standard cable. Reception is great in most areas if you get the right antenna. The best part is that all the old channels have suddenly become 2, 3, 4 or more channels. Each station can put extra sub-channels on their frequency thanks to digital broadcasting … many of them include their sister networks so stations that are out of range can now be watched through a station that is in range. I get 30 different channels for free after paying just $30 for an antenna and I live in a rural area at that. Even if you buy a super expensive roof top antenna it will only set you back as much as one or two cable bills.

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sue April 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Linea, what kind/brand of ‘good old antenna’ do you have that does this for you?

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Leonard Lawrence April 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

Sue: I am a TimeWarner Cable customer, and when they maliciously decided to blackout CBS/Viacom channels last year in a dispute over royalties, I purchased a Mohu Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna in order to get my local CBS affiliate. This antenna has it’s limitations, but if you are close to a broadcast signal, you will receive crystal clear reception. Mohu makes an entire line of HDTV Antennas, some of which, like the Mohu Sky 60, have a 60 mile range.

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Charlotte Hyatt January 28, 2014 at 6:01 pm

You don’t have to give up sports to use Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. I purchased a Roku for $50 and it allows me to have a lot more freedom. I am not a sports fan but I have sports channels.

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Phil February 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm

No,but you do have monthly charges of abour $8-$9/month for many of the services on Roku.

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Toni paez January 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I have dish net work been with them over 7 to 8 years my cable bill is way high called them they cut twenty dollars off but not true they rig it up to not let me have to bring it to America top 200 still it was not taking twenty dollars off it ended up fifteen off then I called dish to see why twenty has not bern taken off First the man says because u did not pay one bill ad they are ways paid do then he says because cable went up. I said oh all of a sudden it went up so we talk a smart package. He tells me my husband will get all sports channels and manyote sports Chanel’s and the basic ones I go to work come home husband is piss becsuse he had none of his sports channels even ESPN was gone the gentle men stir me so wrong so I had to go back to what I had fir him to get all those Chanel’s what is so wrong fir done cable company to give u a price on the ones. U prefer to choose why can’t that be done in any cable company we tell u what we want at a comfortable price I think 80 is a lots of money for cable I want cable and intetnet for a low price of 50 to 60 dollars a month any body know any cable like that or even if it is just the wifi like less money

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Tamara Williams February 2, 2014 at 7:01 am

I had Directv until last October; I had been calling them for about six months over my high bill. I was paying $103. a month for the lowest package. I finally got enough of their bull and had it disconnected! I have hundreds of DVD’s so I just watch them.

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paul February 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I Pay $112 a month for the next to highest package.I cut out the premium channels.(HBO,MAX,STARS & SHOWTIME) I get encore with this package which includes the western channel & I also get all MBA,NFL,NHL & NBA networks with this package.

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paul February 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I Pay $112 a month for the next to highest package.I cut out the premium channels.(HBO,MAX,STARS & SHOWTIME) I get encore with this package which includes the western channel & I also get all MLB,NFL,NHL & NBA networks with this package.I also get espn and fox sports detroit.

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Phil February 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Time Warner cable could care less. In Cleveland they have a monopoly on cable and raise the price at will. If you complain, they simply tell you to go to DSL or dish if you don’t like their prices.

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Phil February 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm

BTW: I pay $54.00/month for internet alone. I dropped my TV service years ago and watch most of the TV I’m interested in at http://www.couchtuner.eu for free, although they do not have sports.

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Mnyama February 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

Two words: ROKU BOX #thatisall

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Phil February 10, 2014 at 6:58 am

I bought a Roku also. The problem with it was the distance between it and my wireless router. My TV is in my living room and my computer is in my back bedroom, so the signal had to pass through three walls and a distance of approx. 40 feet to the Roku. The Roku was always dropping programing because of fluctuation and weak signals from the distance. Buying a wi-fi booster and installing it in the bedroom next to the computer room helped, but wasn’t entirely successful because the kitchen was between it and the Roku. Kitchens have a lot of metal from appliances that hurt. Although I’d rather watch programs on my 48″ HD tv, I’ve learned to watch it on my 24″ monitor instead and settle for $9.00 a month total for Hulu+ and free http://www.couchtuner.eu. If your main source of entertainment is TV, couchtuner for free is awesome. If you want to watch movies go with Hulu+. If sports is your bread and butter, since it’s more controlled, you’re mainly stuck with paying for cable.

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Mak February 22, 2014 at 9:40 am

Comcast kept raising my rate about twice a year and I got tired of it. I realized I dont really have time to watch TV that much so it wasnt worth it for me to keep for an hour show here and there. Plus im sick of all the reality TV junk. I tried a decent HD antanae and get a few channels in HD. The rest of the time im on the internet and use the Netflix type of services once in a while. I also have Sirius with my car and the internet package so I can listen to CNN/ Fox News there if I need to.

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khalid hassan March 5, 2014 at 12:37 am

how i brought down my tv plus cable plus phone bill to $50 a month. of course by matching my real consumption of these utitilities to ‘only pay for ‘what i was really consuming. Step 1; i switched back to my old school time principle given by our principle; track and for one month write down all your spendings down to a dollar; on these utilitities(track where your money is going and; this will bring out what your are only paying but not utilizing; remember; dollar saved is a dollar earned. And remember ; it takes a few days or may be few weeks to get used to your new combination of these utilities; initially it may look awkward but decide only after a few weeks and you might see that you are really not losing much. Step 2: spend some money to buy your own ‘one time expenses like a wireless modem a wireless tv antenna; a flat monthly rate device instead of monthly billing company ; i bought the following and it helped: a wireless tv antenna($50), a clear flat monthly rate($50 per month) ‘clear’ wireless device. Signal strength may not be the best but meets my requirement;you have to let it function it for a few weeks and judge realistically. soon you would realize , it is matter of getting used to itversus the savings. calculate these on yearly basis; it turns out to be substantial.
it all starts by taking the first step; for three months just note down what all you are paying vs what all you are ‘really utilizing.So take the first step.

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Martin Williams April 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Technology has really come a long way. We love entertainment, well who doesn’t but it comes with a cost. Now, the advent of this power-saving technology will give us many benefits while we enjoy our favorite movies and TV shows.

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Donald Wilson April 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

I am either looking to lower my internet/TV billing or to do away with these services altoghther.

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mxhology April 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I bought a Roku also. The problem with it was the distance between it and my wireless router. My TV is in my living room and my computer is in my back bedroom, so the signal had to pass through three walls and a distance of approx. 40 feet to the Roku. The Roku was always dropping programing because of fluctuation and weak signals from the distance. Buying a wi-fi booster and installing it in the bedroom next to the computer room helped, but wasn’t entirely successful because the kitchen was between it and the Roku. Kitchens have a lot of metal from appliances that hurt. Although I’d rather watch programs on my 48? HD tv, I’ve learned to watch it on my 24? monitor instead and settle for $9.00 a month total for Hulu+ and free http://www.dustreaming.com. If your main source of entertainment is TV, couchtuner for free is awesome. If you want to watch movies go with Hulu+. If sports is your bread and butter, since it’s more controlled, you’re mainly stuck with paying for cable.

Reply

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