In this how to we are going to cover some of the options that can save you money with your Cable TV Television Subscription Package. Most of the options will be available whether you are on the larger systems like Comcast, Cox or Time Warner and also on smaller regional systems.
When it comes to Television Broadcasts it seems much of America has moved to Pay Subscription Service. This can mean buying service from your cable tv provider, Dish Provider or even just paying for content over the internet.
Unfortunately even though the dominant number of channels you watch will be flooded with commercials this doesn’t seem to be enough to offset your bill. Every few years prices go up and if they don’t go up they definitely don’t go down.
It use to be that prices would go up randomly and the equipment would stay the same but more often than not now the equipment changes instigate a price increase.
Packages will change and channels you once watched won’t be available unless you upgrade.
You might purchase a new television that has the ability to display full HD but unless you upgrade your whole subscription you will be forced to watch in zoomed / scaled standard 480p definition.
All of these things add to your monthly bill and there is really little you can do about it. Although we are all customers and there are utility commissions there really isn’t a way to debate prices and tier structures.
At one point the FCC was allowing cable systems to force the digital upgrade and then requiring them to introduce A la carte channel ordering which would have meant that if you wanted only 5 channels that they offered then thats all you would get and pay for. Unfortunately with the influence of the cable companies in the white house the FCC reversed that provision and we are still stuck with basic and expanded tiers with dozens of stations we never watch but end up paying for.
This means that you have to be smart when you are defining your cable tv selection or you will end up paying many times more than you should.
Review the available Cable TV packages to save money
The first thing you should do if you are a potential or current customer is get a list of all pricing tiers available.
You might be astonished to find out that there are a few stripped down packages that will get you local and basic cable stations and the ability to order on demand at less than half of the standard digital package they advertise.
We aren’t even talking about the difference of a full package vs a basic package…
There are actually unadvertised packages that can be as low as FREE depending on your situation.
And the sad thing is most of the employees don’t even know about them.
My Provider is Comcast and they offer a stripped down basic local station including government channels that provides everything that you could get over the air with an antenna as their minimal plan. This package is offered because the FCC is more or less pushing them to do it. I don’t believe it is a requirement by law that they offer local channels for next to nothing but I think they are doing it so they don’t end up regulated to do it.
Also if you are on any assistance programs such as medicaid you can get free cable and $9 a month Internet Access. This is for low income families primarily but if you are in need definitely sign up for it.
Again the discount pricing for people on assistance is not a plan that they advertise and may require some pushing by you because local comcast offices may not be following what the headquarters is requiring them to do.
There use to be a time when you had the option to either rent or buy all of the boxes in your house. That includes not only the Cable Modems which you can still buy but also the set top boxes that provided signal to your TV.
The cost to purchase a box is normally less than one year rental of the same device. This can cost you hundreds of dollars a year especially if you are renting HD boxes with DVR options.
There is a way around this.
Most cable companies will require one primary box that allows you to get your full subscription and pay per view or on demand. The primary box is normally included in your subscription and you can get a couple.. normally 3 free dumb boxes that just give you the basic lineup and often in regular format not HD.
To get around paying for HD and DVR services at every tv you can install a Media Center Television on your cable system and then stream shows to other televisions in your house. This will require a moderately powerful computer with a CableCard Ready TV Tuner.
The CableCard is a small credit card sized device that you will insert into a slot. The cable card comes from your cable provider and basically has all the features of a large box.
Your TV Card that you buy can then record shows to your hard drive and also with WiFi or Ethernet it can stream both recorded shows and live tv to other television sets that have a small adaptor box that you must purchase. The adaptor boxes can be an XBox if you have a game console or it can be a dedicated box that can cost from $30 to $100 based on its features.
Supplementing a basic cable subscription with Internet Content
Once you have decided on a package and designed your system to save you money on box rentals… which really should be free…
You can consider supplementing your cable subscription with online content. Now when I say this I mean FREE and LEGAL content.. sure you can find pirate copies of brand new motion pictures but you really don’t need to be doing that do you?
There is so much free content out there from recorded movies and tv shows available on Hulu Standard.. to Video Clips and full shows provided by TV Networks on their websites.
You can find free streams of local news on streaming sites or by going to the TV News Station website. They normally only stream when the news is on but you can watch news all over the country and always have some live content. If you live on the east coast you can watch news from 4am to 9am then from 9am to 12pm watch news on the west coast … then find something else to do until the news comes back on at 4pm on the east coast and watch news until 11 pm on the east coast and then start watching news on the west coast… GEES THATS A FRICKEN LOT OF LIVE NEWS…
To watch live streams you will need a device that has a web browser and one that is not hooked to Android or another mobile Phone OS because they normally block those browsers as they don’t want to broadcast Hulu or LiveStreams to Telephones..
A Windows or linux based box can be setup for about $100 and give you lots of options for content.. but hey even Android streamers have lots of free content if you do your research.
Antennas are a good way to cut all of it out.
Where I live I can receive a good number of television stations but unfortunately the signals are not that great. This means my service won’t be rock solid but most of the time I can get most of the channels .. mostly.
If you live within 30 miles of a metropolitan area you can normally pick up between 30 and 60 channels over an antenna and that will give you a wide selection of free content, news and major networks like Fox, CW, ABC NBC CBS.
If you live farther than 50 miles like me you will need to consider really powerful antennas that might be mounted in your attic, on the roof or on a tower separate from your home.
This is why that EXTREME MINIMAL account on your cable provider can be attractive. They often give you some if not most of what you can get over the air for under $20 a month.. but still thats maybe $250 a year and that is enough to pay the rest of your utilities for a month.. water electric gas..
In our other How To Guides we will look into all the options for your home media center and how you can save money and not lose quality.
It is difficult and you will need to make some changes and probably give up some of the shows or cable news you like .. but in the end if you can save enough money to pay your water bill for a year or maybe more.. then its really worth it.