There are plenty of cable TV options available to the average consumer these days, and in many ways, that makes it hard to choose the one that works best for you. It needs to be said that there are hordes of people who want no more than a few channels at an affordable price, as opposed to the hundreds that many subscribers pay dear amounts for. Following are some ways to find the cheapest cable TV options you can get in your area, and a look at how to reduce your monthly bill after sufficient time has passed.
Research your Possible Options
There are many ways a customer can go when choosing a TV package, and you should be versed with what is within your grasp. There are plenty of things you would do well to learn, such as the basics, the bundles, and the advanced uses. Simply knowing these options well is a good way to steer your decision in the right direction. For instance, in the U.S., every cable TV provider has to give a “basic cable option” that covers local-access channels and broadcast channels, as well as the public service and government channels.
The government controls the pricing on these packages, which often come at less than $20 a month, although many cable providers understandably neglect to mention them on their websites. Go up a tier and you would find the “standard” or “expanded basic” package from each provider, which offers more channels, but for a higher price. However, the provider would normally tout this as the cheapest cable TV package they are providing.
The bottom line is that you need to know how little you can get what you pay for. Package pricing and channel lineup can also vary with region, which is why it is vital to not leave out the fine print when you read the from your are about to sign. Be aware of the basic cable provision requirements as laid out by your government-run communications agency, so that you know what any provider is legally mandated to give you.
Determine the Coverage you Need
The cheapest cable TV package would sure cost you the least, although you would definitely not get a large channel lineup in a plan titled “basic”. The good part is that you would be paying the minimum amount every month. However, if you know your family needs more than this, be specific while choosing.
You may be big on sports, or even arts, in which case it is often best to pick what the provider recommends based on your preference. It gets hard when the people in the family have conflicting entertainment needs, and you need to make sure everyone is happy. However, if you monthly budget cannot handle a plan on one of the top tiers, everyone would need to compromise.
There may be channels that cost extra which air less than a handful of shows that you want to watch. If that is the case, give serious thought to waiting for the DVD release instead, or watching these online. Again, read the fine print, and plan ahead so you do not make an ill-advised choice, like subscribing to 24 months’ worth of kid’s channels when your child is entering his or her teens.
Go by Provider
- First off, start with finding out which providers offer the cheapest cable TV packages in your neighborhood. You may be in an area which some of the major companies do not service, so check who does. A simple search on Google with your zip code at the end should get you what you are looking for. If a provider you are interested in does not offer a deal as sweet as what you found online, roll up your sleeves and get ready to negotiate.
- Call them up. As said, most providers would not advertise their cheapest cable TV package, for the simple reason that they are not required to. Checking their website would only show you the “standard” package, and stuff priced higher. To know about the cheapest cable TV package they are offering, you will need to call in person and ask for that specific bit of information. If you do decide to sign up and want some changes made, this too will need to be specified over the phone.
- Make sure you ask for the “basic” package, and do not let them talk you into getting “standard” or “expanded basic”. Keep steering the conversation back to what you called to find out about, and if need be, remind them that this is something they are legally required to sell. The last card you can play is telling them this is simply all you can afford, at which point most salespeople would pick something over nothing, especially if you sound like a potential cord-cutter. Find out about channel lineup and pricing, and if some of your favorites are included or can be added to the cheapest cable TV package they are offering.
There is always the chance you will be unsatisfied with what the “basic” package brings. If that happens, the next thing to do is Google for the cheapest cable TV deals inside the “standard” tier. Just search for “cheap cable” followed by your zip code, and you will get enough to work with. Some sites allow you to draw up charts to visually compare pricing from different providers.
Give thought to what channels and features you will get for a given amount. On a cautionary note, be suspicious of deals that come at low monthly rates for limited periods; it is a given that the company will raise the price after you have gotten hooked on their programming, which is bound to happen, because TV is addictive.
Getting your Monthly Bill Lowered
After you have been enjoying the entertainment benefits of your TV package for a while, you may start feeling that you are paying overly for what you are getting. This is particularly likely if you did not go for one of the cheapest cable TV deals originally, but instead chose a plan with more bells and whistles. Luckily, there are ways to cut your bill while hanging on to the reality shows and sports programming you really love.
Jump to a Lower Tiered Package
Evaluate your usage monthly, and see if you need all of those premium channels. Packages with more channels would weigh down your bill, so if you see any features, which you can comfortably do without, drop them. This will not go unnoticed, and there is every chance that a company rep would call you up to ask why you are choosing to go this way.
Be blunt and tell them you do not want to pay as much as you used to, but are willing to meet them somewhere in the middle where pricing is concerned. Wait and see if these words work magic, because they almost always do.
Try Bundling Internet with TV
This is one of the best ways to save money, as long as you get both services from the same provider. Not only do you have to pay just a single bill at the end of each month, but also the individual prices usually drop substantially. If you speak to the right sales rep, you may even get further discounts. In a nutshell, any company would want to get you to buy more stuff from them.
A bundle deal essentially requires you to pay for both services even at times when you end up needing just one of them, which is good from the provider’s perspective. However, if you foresee that happening, keep getting your services separately, no matter how hard they try to get you to bundle them. Risking an ETF is definitely not a smart thing to do as an entertainment consumer.
Sign a Long Term Contract
A contract or a service agreement is seen as a bad thing by most people, but you should know that the ones who agree to this are more likely to get attractive discounts from their providers. A two-year agreement, for instance, gives the company the guarantee that you will stay on for that time period, or pay an early termination fee to get out. This means they probably have distinct on- and off-contract pricing, and the former is what you want to be able to partake in.
If you are sure you will not switch providers before a contract would expire, then there is simply no good reason not to sign one. As the benefits of this rush in, you may even get more value for money than you would have signing up for the cheapest cable TV deal you could find.
Both your current provider and their competition offer services you should check out. They probably provide far better deals than they advertise, a lot similar to their cheapest cable TV deals. Many companies draw in new customers with tempting packages, usually featuring either cheaper prices or higher value for money. If your contract is about to expire, you can go to another provider and get something similar.
If you decide to stay on instead, and see that new customers are being treated to far better plan features for the same price you pay, call up the provider and ask them why a loyal customer like you is not getting the same perks. This should elicit the reaction you want, especially if you tell them your neighbor is getting a far more attractive price despite being a relatively new user.
Call and Demand a Discount
Sometimes this is all it takes to shave a substantial amount off your monthly bill, and you will not know unless you have tried. Every cable TV provider is willing to talk pricing at any time of day, and even more so if you are currently approaching the end of your contract. Call them up and ask what they can do for you. If you get the right service rep on the phone, be patient, and play sufficiently nice, they would probably call you back with the kind of sweetened deal you were looking for. At the end of the day, this soundly beats signing up for the cheapest cable TV deal you can find.
If the provider will not give you TV service for a cheaper price, start negotiating. Many providers are agreeable to haggling, and you can get them to listen if you quote the competition’s pricing, and subtly hint at a chance of you ending your contract. To know about what the competition is offering, Google their plans. If you keep trying, at the very least, they are bound to give you a slight raise in internet speed, or a couple premium channels. Something is better than nothing, and you can always try again.
Tell Them you Will Leave
Stay polite, but if the negotiations do not go your way, then tell them that you believe you can get better service elsewhere. Any representative’s first instinct is to try and keep you from doing that, and if they have to offer up an enticing deal to that end, they probably will. Better yet, when you call, say it is to complain about the pricing, or lower your plan, or even cancel. Chances are you will be treated to a “special” deal that not everyone gets.
Companies allow representatives to offer these to reel in customers who look like they will probably leave. Such a plan may even cut your monthly bill by up to $20, and that is a definite steal. This too beats signing up for the cheapest cable TV deal you can find.
If you find your current provider is not giving enough for the money you pay them each month, and talking to them has not helped, then switching may be the only imperative. This is where the lack of a contract comes in handy; subscribers bound by one would have to dish out exorbitant early termination fees (ETF) for essentially breaking it.
After the end of your contract, use the tricks above to get the best deals out of the subscriber you next sign up with, and while opting for the cheapest cable TV deal may sound good, there is wisdom in seeing if you can get better value for money on a higher tiered plan. You can even call a competitor before switching, and see what offers mentioning your current provider gets you.