According to MSNBC, the average monthly cable bill has increased 93% since 1996. Also, cable bills have risen an average of 6% per year over the last four years. As it stands now, the average cable bill is $86 per month, and according to a projection by research firm NDP Group, that number could reach $200 per month by 2020. That’s quite a bit of money to spend just to watch TV.
The truly scary fact is that most people who have cable service don’t end up watching a majority of the channels. So until a la carte channel ordering becomes a service offered by cable providers, the responsibility to reduce cable fees falls squarely on the shoulders of the consumer. The good news is that there are a number of ways individuals can curb exorbitant cable fees.
Periodically evaluate your cable bill
Cable bills tend to increase once a year, so cable subscribers should evaluate their service once a year as well. This means combing through the bills with a fine-tooth comb and weighing the drawbacks of the extra fees. Breaking the bills down to per-hour cost of service is a helpful also. When presented with per-hour figures, many cable subscribers often find they are paying far too much for their service.
The next thing to do is evaluate whether or not the channels that are watched are worth the overall service. For example, those who only subscribe to premium channels in order to watch one or two shows may find it is cheaper to eschew those channels and rent the DVDs instead.
Look for rebates and discounts
Like any other business sector, cable companies are in competition with one another. That means there are often deals to be had if the consumer knows just where to look. Oftentimes these deals come in the form of rebate cards. But while a pre-paid debit card may sound like a good deal on paper, it’s important for the consumer to do his or her diligence and find out whether there are hidden fees for inactivity and early termination of service.
Also, simply contacting the cable provider and inquiring about current deals and discounts will often bear fruit. Cable companies almost always have some type of discount on offer, and if the subscriber is diligent, he or she can usually find periodic deals.
Many times, sky-high fees are the result of paying for certain services – such as Internet, phone and cable – separately. Whenever possible, the consumer should consult his or her cable provider and find out if they offer such services in bundled packages, as a collective service is almost always cheaper.
This goes for premium channels as well. If the subscriber wants channels such as HBO, Showtime, etc, it makes sense to inquire as to whether or not the provider offers premium packages that are cheaper than paying for them individually.
By adhering to these guidelines and employing a combination of channel-cutting, service-bundling and discount-hunting, cable subscribers may be surprised to find they can save a hundred dollars or more per year on their bill.
Adam Gilligan is a professional in the entertainment industry. He contributes to leading blogs around the web including GetDirectTV.org.