With the surplus of new tech gadgets and the steady increase of in-home entertainment options, it only makes sense that some of the old standard-bearers are going to be questioned and potentially left behind. Next up for serious changes? Cable.
Comcast recently announced that it’s been in talks with Time Warner Cable. Their plan? To absorb Time Warner and its users and create a mega-provider under the Comcast name. With the two companies representing the two largest cable providers in the US (AT&T U-Verse comes up in third place by a large margin) the prospective merger means that we can likely expect a shift in the cable industry – with this new behemoth potentially using its leverage to increase cable prices.
Considering that most Americans watch an average of 2.8 hours of TV a day, cable clearly represents an expense that we’re willing to pay for. But with cable costs already high, is cable an expense we’re willing to pay even more for?
What the acquisition could mean for you
Though the merger isn’t yet a done deal, your future cable bill will likely be increased should the agreement go through. Because the two combined companies will become the giant in the industry, they will hold more leverage over rates and also hold tighter reins over how consumers can view their favorite shows. There are reports that the move is in strategic opposition to “cord cutters” or those who wish to leave their cable bill behind in favor of paying for internet alone and watching their favorite shows online.
Should you keep your cable?
Increasing cable rates over time is inevitable in the industry but that doesn’t mean you have to forfeit your rates immediately. In fact, you may even be able to lower them – at least temporarily. The Comcast/Times Warner deal is projected to take hold next year at the earliest. In the meantime, you can take advantage of the new information to…
Negotiate your cable rate while you can
It’s a well-known “secret” that you can negotiate with your cable provider and still come out on top. Ask for a lowered rate while threatening to leave and you stand a good chance of getting a reduced cable bill – at least temporarily. This is especially effective if you can find a cheaper rate to match from another company. Locking down a lower rate for the upcoming year will at the very least ensure that you can maintain your monthly budget without fear of rising rates. Consumer reports gives some great tips on how to remain tenacious and succeed in your negotiations.
Downgrade your cable plan
You can always consider downgrading your plan to basic rather than deluxe. It might feel painful but you’re not necessarily giving up anything other than premium channels that you might not even tune into regularly. Things like the Olympics can be viewed on the primetime cable channels with other series being supplemented on the internet. It’s an adjustment for high channel cable fans but it’s another way to save on your bill.
Should you cut simply cord?
It might be tempting to cut all ties with the cable company but the impact of doing so is actually one of the main concerns from consumers. Because cable providers are also internet providers, they offer bundles of services in order to net more customers needs in one go. That means that tricky pricing on internet alone might eventually end up costing more than when bundled with cable – regardless of whether you want cable or not.
If you’re worried that you may be wrangled into a future bundled cable bill, you can explore other lesser known but cheaper options that provide internet without the cable strings attached. They may not give the highest internet speeds but they’re viable alternatives for now.
Alternatives to cable
You may already be on the online streaming bandwagon, but your options aren’t limited to Netflix alone. Depending on your viewing needs, you may even feel comfortable cutting back to the free version of Hulu and any free shows available on YouTube.
Of course another option – and one of our faves – is to use your monthly cable payment to pay down your debt even faster. If you do end up canceling you’ll have an excess pocket of money ready at your disposal. Funneling the extra into your repayment is a great idea just so long as you don’t fill your cable-less days with credit card spending!
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Image Credit: Mr. T in DC