Cable: The Worst Deal Of The Decade

The price of everything in the telecom world has fallen over the past decade, except for cable. Cable is now 77% more expensive than it was ten years ago, an increase that dwarfs the rate of inflation and makes telecom executives salivate. The Times looks with pity on all of us who splay our wallets wide for the industry, and asks if there’s any salvation other than à la carte pricing.

The starting point for comparison is 1996, when Congress deregulated the telecom industry, ostensibly to spur competition. Startups and cable companies quickly trammelled the telecoms’ ability to dictate prices, but nobody emerged to take on cable.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the F.C.C., said in an interview that since 1996, when Congress increased competition in telecommunications, prices have dropped for many other services.

“We’ve seen the opposite occur in the cable industry,” he said. “The dramatic increases in pricing we’ve seen are one of the most troubling issues from a consumer point of view.”

In 2007, average monthly revenue for each Cablevision subscriber was $75, up from $65 in 2005, according to SNL Kagan, a research company. At Time Warner it was $64, up from $54.50.

The industry isn’t changing its prices or practices because consumers aren’t changing their habits.

“I work eight hours a day facing a computer. When I come home, the last thing I want to do is mess with another computer,” said Eric Yu, 24, a college student in San Francisco who pays around $80 a month for cable.

Mr. Yu said he watches only a handful of channels, including some in high definition like National Geographic. But to get them, he has to pay for a premium package. “I just pay the bill and try to forget about it,” he said. “It lessens the pain.”

Well, some are…

Evelyn Tan, 22, a friend of Mr. Yu, takes a different approach. She pays Comcast $33 a month for Internet access and does not get cable television — but she does watch TV programming.

In fact, she watches ABC shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Gray’s Anatomy,” which are free on the Web. When she wants to watch shows or movies that are not readily available online, she says she easily pirates them. “I would not pay for cable TV at all,” she said.

A la carte programming isn’t coming anytime soon, but the monopolistic anti-consumer juggernaut Verizon might provide some relief as it elbows its way into the television business. While Verizon is no better than its cable competitors, its arrival opens a brief window for competition by allowing consumers play one giant against the other to eek out slight savings on cable programming.

Of course, those slight savings might only bring your rates closer to what you were paying two or three years ago. Neither the Times nor the FCC think cable is worth the cost. What do you think?

Cable Prices Keep Rising; Customers Keep Paying [NYT]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. snoop-blog says:

    Instead of cable, I just have a combined system for my media; I have an antenna for fox, cbs, abc for free, a high speed internet connection for the shows I can’t see with my antenna, and a netflix account (a real basic one) for movies. All in all, it costs me 39.99/mo. $30/mo for internet, plus $9/mo for netflix. Then again, I’m not home often enough to really get into most shows. My schedule varies enough to where I couldn’t be home at the same time every night to see the same shows. So I rely on the internet to be able to see the ones I missed at my convenience.

  2. bohemian says:

    Our cable package went from $115 to $169 in three months. Our discount ran out and Knology bought our cable company and jacked rates. We ditched a bunch of services but in order to watch any of the channels we actually want to watch we have to keep digital, even though most of the channels are basic cable on most other providers. We have limited options. 2 cable companies that both have decided to run up rates rather than compete. Or dish/direct TV.

    We are actually considering getting old style satellite dishes. Between a KU band dish, a 4DTV dish and an HD attic antenna we could get what we want to watch. The equipment outlay would be about $1000 and about $30-$50 a month for 4DTV subscriptions, plus another $35 for broadband internet. This isn’t an option for people who live in apartments or somewhere with HOA rules.

  3. The cost of maintaining lines is why cable costs more. Lose the wires and your labor needs drop immensely, but until then it will continue to rise.

  4. iwantansi says:

    @bohemian:

    Regardless of HOA or Apartment rules they cant stop you from puting up a dish… they can set rules on how you attach it , but not stop you…I forget the exact law but its something federal…

  5. iwantansi says:

    Heres the law…

    [www.fcc.gov]

  6. serreca says:

    Eek out, hee!

    I pay way too much for cable/internet/phone/HDTV/DVR but we love to watch TV. I know it’s supposed to be one of the first things you give up if you’re trying to save money/pay off debt (which we are), but cable & internet would probably be one of the LAST things we’d give up because we use it so much.

  7. b612markt says:

    I don’t have cable tv, i don’t have a landline, I don’t have a DVR. All I have is my mobile phone and Hi-Speed cable internet. I use BitTorrent to download the new episodes of the 4 shows I watch. There’s no way I’d EVER pay ANY amount of money for TV or DVR service.

  8. bohemian says:

    One of the downfalls of not having broadcast is the inability to stumble across something new. I suppose you could haunt the various channels websites or get word of mouth.

    What I really want to see is various broadcasters offering their content on a subscription basis in a full screen stream or download. If we could get the 10 channels we watch via our broadband line we would ditch cable. I think that is part of the big fight over net neutrality and messing with people’s bit torrent downloading.

  9. se7a7n7 says:

    The whole tier pricing is BS. When you go to the grocery store and need 10 items, the store can’t charge you for everything else they sell. Cable reasons they do this to keep costs low. I have to pay for a bunch of channel I would never watch and there’s other channels I want that are in a higher tier (read more $). So I have plenty of shopping channels and 2 of each network but I can’t watch G4, which i really want?!?!?

    Obama, can you do something about this?

  10. HonestNigerian says:

    We are with comcast in Atlanta and our cable and internet bill is about $120 a month. So last week, I called Comcast to “verfiry” we didnt’ have a contract because I was thinking of switching to ATT .. Now I know Comcast doesn’t do contracts, I was just trying to get a point across. Immediately, the rep said since we were thinking of leaving she’d give us a break and she lowered our total bill to $72 a month, taxes included. We’ll get that rate for a year.

  11. betatron says:

    I work rotating shift, ergo 25% of my tv-viewing time falls between midnight and 6 a.m., which mean’s i’m PAYING TO WATCH INFOMERCIALS!!

    The non-infomercial programming repeats every 6 hours or so, then gets rerun several times over the next few weeks, then again in about two or three months. Personally, i find enough of the “offerings” on cable to be so … mindless? vapid? insulting to my limited intelligence?

    In any case, when i had cable, and actually watched it, i found myself getting pissed off each time i remembered how much crap i was paying for.

    And it is a huge time-suck. Wow — i just spent three hours watching a schlockumentary about the design and manufacture of zipper plating machines during the spanish civil war… (We won’t talk about usenet and the web, ok?)

    Which is why i don’t have cable, although I have been thinking of resurrecting my roof antenna for those new-fangled digital TV signals that all the kids are talking about.

  12. zingbot says:

    We pay cable and resent the bill every month.

    We’ve also been watching our friends who have dropped cable for the internet thing come to our house to watch TV more because it is even slightly harder to get what you want, and you lose the accidental discovery aspect. They tout it as the “great freeing” from cable, but in reality they are leaning on our cable service – all with our permission because we love the company.

    Regulation is the answer to the pricing.

  13. scblackman says:

    After our cable bill in Boston (Comcast) hit $150/month, my wife and I decided to eliminate the TV portion. We now just use Comcast for phone and internet ($70/month). The $80/month savings (nearly $1000/year) is spent on far more valuable things.

    Naturally, once we eliminated cable, there was truly nothing to see on TV, so we got rid of the television set altogether. The 2 hours/day saved (over 700 hours per year) also go to more valuable things.

    If there’s something we _really_ want to watch, we can easily find it in downloadable form somewhere on the Internet.

  14. When long-distance telephone was deregulated in the 1980s, it was legislated that competitors to Ma Bell could use Ma Bell phone lines to offer competing services (competitors had to pay an access fee of course).

    The same thing needs to happen to the lines operated by Comcast, Time Warner, and the rest of the cable operators. That’s when we’ll see rates drop through the floor. Write your congressman!

  15. razremytuxbuddy says:

    @betatron: Preach it, brother! I cancelled my cable almost 8 years ago for that very reason, and have hardly missed it. When there’s something I want to see on ESPN, I can go to a sports bar or restaurant which is more fun that watching at home. When I’m at a hotel flipping through their cable channels, I’m amazed at how bad the programming is, and how much of cable is infomercials.

    I get by now with indoor rabbit ears, but now I have my eye on this really big outdoor antenna at Radio Shack;) It would cost the same as about two months of cable. Consumerist likes to poke fun at Radio Shack occasionally, but RS does have its niche, and the cable companies are going to drive us all back there. Long before cell phones, cable companies pioneered the concept of bad customer service, although cell phone companies have since showed the cable companies how to take that concept to the next level.

  16. MonkeySwitch says:

    I have never, and will never pay for cable. We have DSL which enables me to watch what I want-when I want-commercial free!

  17. ramthor says:

    I live in the mountains – one provider for cable, Windstream (ex-Alltel). If I want cable TV, I have to pay separately for a stupid hard-wired telephone account.
    Why don’t I get a dish? You guessed it: only one ISP
    in the area: Windstream, who isn’t EVER going to offer
    cable modem svc.
    I pay a fortune simply because I need DSL.

  18. khiltd says:

    @se7a7n7:
    This is the first time I’ve ever heard anybody say that they wanted to watch G4.

  19. bohemian says:

    The cable industry keeps telling people they can’t provide ala-carte because the content providers won’t let them. They are lying.

    Certain programming seems to come in bundles. Something like HGTV is tied to Fine Living & DIY channel. But those three are not tied to a larger grouping. So you COULD technically just purchase the three. Same goes for Discovery. Discovery isn’t tied to any larger entity. IE: you don’t have to get ESPN channels in order to get Discovery channels. Discovery is grouped with a bunch of various discovery branded channels and TLC.

    The remaining big dish programming providers can sell content in much smaller packages to consumers. If they can do it the cable companies can do it. They just have a massive scam going on and won’t change unless forced to do so. To get an idea what I am talking about look at the various package levels and alacarte offerings on NPS’s website. [www.callnps.com]

    So no, you don’t need to get 20 channels of sports, religious channels and other tripe in order to get BBC and G4. Cable companies are holding in demand channels hostage to force people to buy a bunch of crap they never watch at highly inflated prices. Someone in the govt. needs to grow a pair and step in.

  20. bohemian says:

    @khiltd: G4 has improved quite a bit. They have been broadcasting a bunch of Japanese TV shows that we got hooked on. Attack of the Show is kinda lame but it is far better than much of what is on. How sad it that?

  21. mycroft2000 says:

    I no longer have a TV, but when I did, the incompetence of my cable supplier (Rogers) worked FOR me, in some great conjunction of the stars. When I moved into my late grandmother’s house, I cancelled her cable service immediately, but it took them SIX YEARS to disconnect it, even though they stopped charging. I assume that the tech, on the day he was originally supposed to cut it off, went to a pub instead and just said he’d done all his tasks.

    Sadly, I think this was the most satisfying experience of my life.

  22. VikingP77 says:

    I haven’t paid for cable in over 10 years…there is nothing on that I want to watch that badly anyways!

  23. richcreamerybutter says:

    I get random cable channels from my “ghetto service” (plugging the TV into the existing cable from the outside), and make up for what I don’t get at times with torrents and Netflix. If I have to go without or wait, so be it. I’m not saying this in a “I’m better than you – kill your tv” self-righteous way, because I can easily enjoy cable programming. I just refuse to pay for it. Why would I want to pay for more ads and infomercials?

    If I was paying for ad-free or a la carte content, I might reconsider. But that just means I won’t be paying for any TV in the foreseeable future.

  24. katylostherart says:

    i wish american cable was like britain’s. you pay one price, a tv licence, per year and that’s that. and the most basic there is like 60 channels not 12.

  25. ruffedges says:

    I’ve been trying to get Brighthouse to add the NFL Network and their response is that if they did it would cost everyone money and that their consumers don’t all want the NFL Network. My argument is that I have about 30 channels or more that I don’t watch that I pay for (ex. Home Shopping,QVC,anything spanish). Why can’t I pick the channels I want and be charged for just those channels? As is everything , people have never complained or canceled service enough for these companies to change their tactics. It’s always about making more money. Can’t a company make a profit and be happy with it – why do they have to make MORE money? If it’s a profitable company, stop raising prices , stop gouging customers, and start thinking about us as people not dollars.

  26. meh. I download new BSG eps from Giganews once a week and watch them on the iMac. that takes care of my TV needs. cut the goddam cord already. I sold my TV in January and even though the house-sit place has three TVs the only time I watched one was when I was sick for a day or two. the owner is paying $90 a month for cable TV that nobody watches, but that’s his business.

  27. parad0x360 says:

    Screw verizon! They installed FIOS where I live, all over the place and then sold all their lines in the area to a company called Fairpoint who has zero plans to offer the already installed FIOS service…WTF!?

  28. HooFoot says:

    Why would you publish you full name in the newspaper alongside a statement admitting that you pirate TV shows? Evelyn Tan will probably be slapped with a lawsuit in less than a week.

  29. Angryrider says:

    Haha! I’m happy I lived without cable for most of my life. All I need is an antenna to watch network television, and broadband internet to watch the cable shows. DVD boxsets just sweeten the deal.

  30. Amy Alkon000 says:

    In socialist France, you can get cable TV, telephone service, and DSL bundled for 19 euros. Of course, with the dollar trading more like the 50-cent piece these days, that would be about $30. Still, much less than most people are paying for any one of these services in the supposed land of the free market.

    “Free market” would, of course, imply that I am free to choose some other cable Internet provider besides Time-Warner. I am not because there is no other cable provider.

    I am, however, most grateful to you who blog at Consumerist, for the level three tech support number — a direct line to people who know what they’re talking about (usually), and even at 3 a.m.

  31. bohemian says:

    @Amy Alkon: We have two cable options that are in collusion to keep prices high and keep competitors out. That is hardly free market.

    Cable TV needs to be regulated just like any other telecom public utility.

  32. Joedragon says:

    Direct TV seems to have much better deals.

    any ways cable and sat needs to get rid of the extra box fees. Cable also has high DVR fees as well.

  33. highmodulus says:

    Of course Fios and dish are just as bad, if not worse (thanks to ETF and ultra sketchy install process woes). Not loving the cable co’s but the one sided coverage from the NYT’s is disappointing.

    How about the disastrous broadband cable situation in the US?

    The complete joke of our cell phone situation versus the world?

    Guess if you buy enough ads you get a pass in the Times. And they wonder why newspapers are dying. . .

  34. 2719 says:

    I agree the prices are too high but what most of people fail to understand is cable cos are paying content providers to get the programming. And every year those fees go up. Now even local broadcast stations (their owners) are demanding payments for otherwise free programming.

    Everyone wants more money. This whole industry is getting way too big. Sport fans are willing to pay whatever the price is to get their fix. Now The Big Ten and others want bulk deals. Everyone needs to pay even though only some will watch it. And as long as people are willing to pay more they will keep jacking up the prices.
    The cable companies are not really making a killing. Check their stocks if you don’t believe me…

    PS and as for the comment about allowing competitors to use someone else’s network all I have to say it would never work. NOBODY would be doing any major maintenance and upgrades. Why would they spend millions of dollars so a competitor can piggyback on their network?

  35. Ditched our cable when we moved almost four years ago; I mostly miss it when I’m really, really bored or too sick to read.

    I’m considering not upgrading to the DTV stuff; we watch a few shows on the networks, and now that they make them available online in USEABLE formats, we frequently end up doing that ANYWAY just so we can watch when it’s convenient for us.

    And I really LIKE TV. I’m just not willing to pay that much for it. Particularly not when there’s ads and stuff.

  36. 44 in a Row says:

    Sadly, us Manhattanites are, in general, completely barred from satellite. I’d love to get DirecTV, for no other reason than to get NFL Sunday Ticket, but it’s physically impossible.

  37. LogicalOne says:

    What people who have cable don’t realize is that come next February, when analog ends and broadcasters switch to all digital transmission, all people with newer TVs need to do is hook up an antenna, and they’ll get beautiful, noise-free reception without the need for a greedy cable operator to send them the same signal. Those with older TVs can get a converter box for a one-time purchase. With or without a government coupon the box would be certainly cheaper than shelling out $50+ each month.

    Hopefully, the cable channel providers will realize that people are tired of paying for a middleman and make some deals with the broadcasters so that their programming gets broadcast on one of the digital subchannels. They could revenue-share the commercials. For example, NBC could carry Bravo/USA/MSNBC/CNBC. Fox could carry FX/FNC/FBN. Discovery, Scripps? Start negotiating!!

    Comcast and others are trying to conceal all this by telling use they’re ready for digital, “no need to do anything.” Yeah, like dropping Comcast in February like a hot potato.

  38. bohemian says:

    @2719: Please see my post about direct programming available for big satellite dish users. Sure the companies providing the programming may charge more, but if you look at the prices and flexibility available to people using a big sat dish compared to cable you can see where their money making game is. They force end users to buy huge expensive packages of channels they never watch in order to get the maybe 10 or so channels they watch. It is obvious that they COULD give people more targeted packages and individual ala carte programming. They don’t want to because it is highly profitable to charge someone $100 a month for 900 channels of crap so they can get the two or three in demand channels they refuse to carry as part of their basic cable programming.

  39. A cable industry veteran of 20+ years explained to me that the these huge increases in subscription cost have primarily been caused by increased fees demanded by the content providers, and not from infrastructure upgrades, maintenance, or any other factor usually cited. If this is true, I don’t know how alternative technologies like FIOS IPTV would really solve the problem. Perhaps the mere presence of another player would force these content providers to lower their fees? A-la-carte pricing seems like the best solution, but you’d have to prepare yourself to pay a hell of a lot more for sports channels (the bulk of these licensing fee increases) than you do for others. Seems fair to me.

    PS: For anyone who tires of those who proudly proclaim “I don’t even have a TV”, here’s a nice satire of this sanctimonious twittery:
    [www.theonion.com]

  40. Congress deregulated an industry that’s set up on a monopolist model. Almost every jurisdiction in the U.S. grants a single franchise agreement to one cable company.

    Well, when you deregulate the only supplier of a product, what did they THINK was going to happen to the price?

  41. @khiltd: Where else are you gonna see Ninja Warrior?

  42. The Stork says:

    @HooFoot: Watching shows that ABC streams for free on their website is hardly piracy. A better term would be “perfectly legal.”

  43. Allie928 says:

    I’ve been steaming over the cost of TV for years. My basic bill is supposed to be $100.00 a month but with all the rental fees and surchagres, I can’t afford to watch TV. It makes me feel helpless and violated. Thanks to this thread, my solution will be to upgrade my computer monitor so I can see what I want, when I want.

    In 2009, when TV goes digital, don’t let the cable company convince you that buying your own box won’t work on their network. I was told this by Comcast. I found out otherwise.

  44. Roy Hobbs says:

    @AtomicPlayboy: You know what? I actually like TV. If I am home, it is most likely on.

    Oh, and I have DirectTV, which is light-years ahead of Comcast in the product and customer service areas. When I buy my next house, I’ve already told my real estate agent that I won’t even look at a house that doesn’t have a view of the southern sky.

  45. katra says:

    I can’t imagine paying for cable. If I ever get a craving to just sit down and watch something, there are tons of shows offered for free on the web by the networks- and my internet doubles as a great research and communication tool.

    I watched a *lot* of TV about 8 years ago. My life is so much better without it.

  46. tortcat says:

    @allie928..

    if you have cable of any kind you wont need to buy a box when tv goes digital…only the people who have analog only tvs, that dont also get cable or sat, would need to buy one to receive over the air broadcasts

  47. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I only pay for cable when there’s a promo. As soon as the promo pricing is over, I cancel service. As someone else mentioned, if you can get broadband at your residence, you can watch most of the popular shows on the internet. Almost all of the big networks stream their shows for FREE through their websites. And of course there’s always Bit Torrent.

  48. chrylis says:

    @rainmkr: No, it’s clearly not, or the companies wouldn’t have been profitable pre-deregulation. The issue is that in most cities, only one company was allowed to put up (or down) wires for cable TV, and competitors can’t even if they want to.

    While I’m generally pro-deregulation, the very fact that single companies held “franchises” (monopolies on the ability to put up cables) means that the government was already heavily distorting the market. You can’t have a competitive market until you allow any company access to its customers (a la dry-pair DSL).

  49. 2719 says:

    @Allie928:

    Why in the world would you use one of the OTA DCTs for Comcast service? The fact is it will not work. Or it will in RF bypass modem but that defeats the purpose of it. Those converters are designed to be used with OTA (antenna) signals.

    Digital switchover will only affect people with no satellite or cable service.

  50. HollerJoller says:

    Come on! Worst deal of the decade?!?!? Gas has to be the worst deal this decade 400 percent increase!!! You’ve got to keep in mind cable is a luxury, you don’t need it to survive. And don’t act like Dish and Direct TV don’t increase their bill – 4 years ago I was paying $74.99 for the everything pack now it’s $94.98!!! And that’s in 4 years! Everybody needs to stop complaining about about cable when you CHOOSE to get it!

  51. linbey says:

    I really wish people would understand that Ala carte isnt the way to go. If youre currently paying $100 per month and have 100 channels, then you are paying $1 per channel. If you were to say you only wanted 14 of those channels, I can GUARANTEE that your bill wouldnt be $14 per month. If Ala carte was to roll around we would end up paying pretty much what we do now for many less channels. I know people complain about the shopping channels and garbage like that but those are usually provided to cable companies for free and in some cases they PAY the cable company to broadcast it, so by dropping those you wouldnt save anything at all.

  52. 2719 says:

    @bohemian:

    I can see your point but they are after all for profit companies. My point was the fact rates increased 77% percent more than inflation is not just cable cos jacking up the prices to increase profit margins.

  53. linbey says:

    @Amy Alkon:

    Yes but in some of those European countries they also have to pay a pretty stiff fee for a TV license, so they are paying for it in some way

  54. GhostMul says:

    Hi, first time posting on this website, I work for a cable company and I will let you in on why cable costs more.

    1. Physical Plant – Cable companies have to put in and maintain a huge amount of cabling, both fiber optic and copper based cabling.

    2. You can’t get Video on demand, or Free on demand content with Satellite.

    3. We maintain a huge staff for maintenance and service issues. I work in the dispatch for the cable company so I know about this. We have to send technicians out for the stupidest things like customers who don’t understand that it is necessary to change the batteries in the remote. This drives our costs up as well.

    Look, we live in the areas that we do business in, Satellite providers don’t. If you need a service call from the satellite company good luck.

    4. Package pricing, we have to negotiate with every provider, animal planet, SciFI etc. So we do have to spread the cost of programming, but hey so does satellite.

    5. TAXES. Cable companies have to pay local and often state franchise taxes. Satellite providers don’t. Some companies get charged more than $50 for each piece of property that their lines go by, whether or not there is a cable customer at the location we pass by. We get taxed for the possibility of income as well as the income we make.

  55. JoJo3737 says:

    People, have you read your posts? You are complaining about a purely optional entertainment service. I read post after post about people resigning themselves to the fact that everything sucks and they wished there was something they could do about it.

    Does anyone remember the phrase from the movie Network? “I’m mad as hell and I not going to take it anymore.”

    This is America. Vote with your dollars and stop using your cable service. When you cancel, tell them their service sucks, their selection sucks, and their pricing sucks. If enough sheep would get backbone and refuse to buy the garbage, things would change.

  56. CPC24 says:

    Over $150 a month? I pay about $80 for DirecTV, and that’s with two TVs, a DVR, and HD.

  57. Trai_Dep says:

    I’d LOVE to see a Consumerist poll:

    Cable customers, is your viewing experience 80% better than ten years ago?

  58. opstand says:

    @snoop-blog: Exactly what we do. $30 for Road Runner (called them and got a 12 month deal at that price), $13 for NetFlix, and I built a coat hanger HDTV antenna to get about 20 channels OTA for free. Sure beats paying TWC any money for cable TV too…

  59. 2719 says:

    @CPC24:

    You can easily reach $200 if you do PPV, VOD purchases, have triple play with no bundle discounts etc.

    DirecTV only provides TV service.

  60. pigeonpenelope says:

    perhaps it is more expensive, but how i do love my cable. i would rather go without than have satellite.

  61. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Trai_Dep: actually yes. sorry but i actually like comcast. not only is digital cable convenient but its is much better than cable was for me about ten years ago. my picture is better and i almost never have outages. that being said, i should also mention that ten years ago i was living in a small town called, Concrete WA, and the cable was so small and basic we didn’t even have Mtv (a tragedy for a teenager from a big city).

    here’s what i really really hate about satellite, the damn thing takes forever to switch channels. and it goes out a lot. i’d rather have reliable television or no television then spend for satellite.

  62. battra92 says:

    Part of my rent is to pay the cable bill for the house. $130 a month for 4 televisions and internet.

    Once I move I plan on dropping cable and just having my brother record the stuff I want to see.

    Plus most of the stuff I watch is on DVD anyway I can always buy them or get a Netflix account.

  63. god_forbids says:

    And the fact that cable companies are pouring billions of dollars into FiOS and other next-gen technologies to push HDTV signals doesn’t have anything to do with fare increases, right? Must be just another example of the evil, demonic corporations fleecing Podunk Joe.

  64. stinerman says:

    There isn’t a free market in premium television (read: anything other than broadcast), so there isn’t any reason to expect cable companies should be subject to market forces.

  65. ivanthemute says:

    *From the article* A la carte programming isn’t coming anytime soon, but the monopolistic anti-consumer juggernaut Verizon might provide some relief as it elbows its way into the television business. *endquote*

    No shit. Oddly enough, it’s NOT the cable companies at work here on that (at this time.) If you want to stick pins in the lack of a la carte programming, blame the production companies. If a cable provider wants to carry ESPN, then they are forced to purchase a programming bundle including Disney Channel, A&E, and Lifetime (thanks Disney inc, parent to ABC!). Want CNN? Well, bundled with CNN is Headline News, TNT and TBS (thanks Time-Warner Inc!) Want your daily dose of Spongebob on Nick? Got to buy VH1 and MTV (thanks Viacom!) The problem is that many channels are focused on such niche markets that they are not commercially viable and to get any airtime on any cable or dish provider. Take my favorite channel, G4. A lot of y’all probably watch it, but not as many folks as to make ad revenue meet production cost. So Viacom bundles it with Nickelodeon, making a la cart programming impossible. I enjoy ESPN, but damnit, I don’t want to pay for A&E and the I Hate Men channel (er, I mean Lifetime.) But, on the flip side, folks who like Lifetime and LMN might not want to pay for ESPN either. Once the programmers separate these bundled channels, then a la carte programming is commercially viable (only question is, would the cable companies offer it?)

  66. legwork says:

    Free your mind. Drop the addiction.

  67. sponica says:

    I recently moved, and my new roommates don’t have cable. While I will probably miss it during the summer, as I really don’t want to spend my summer watching American Gladiator and whatever mindnumbing reality TV show is on, during the regular TV season, I haven’t missed it that much. I watch what I can off the antenna, and what I can watch for free online when I get the chance. I figure I can wait till the cable shows are released on DVD then netflix them

  68. CaptZ says:

    Ok…..here is an idea. I often beta test equipment for various companies and I am currently testing hardware for a company called FyreTV. The gist of the hardware is this, it streams porn from the internet to your TV, the selection of movies is pheonominal and the menu system is top notch. You must have a high speed connection close to your TV. No problem there. I have ATT U-verse, the U-verse box has an network jack on the back, since all the cable boxes are part of my U-verse network.

    Anyway, basically all the box does is more than likely uncompress the streamed video. There are several video quality settings depending on your connection speed. Mine is currently on DVD quality, which is damn good.

    This can easily be used by the tv stations themselves to completely bypass the cable or satellite operators. The technology is so good that you can fast forward and rewind at a moments notice. There seems to be no lag on the stream. Just saying….there are other opportunities open for this besides just porn. Of course porn has always been on the forefront for new technology when it comes to the internet. Hell, if it weren’t for porn, the internet would be less than it is now. I have been renting it out to my friends to test and use lately for $10 a week, even though I am not paying anything during the beta testing.

    http://www.fyretv.com shameless plug

  69. TeleVisionOne says:

    Paying good money to watch the same show over and over don’t make sence,for local tv just need a ant. most of time i can watch shows I like on Adobe meda player and VeohTV player, all free

  70. Buran says:

    I sm sick and tired of people trumpeting downloadable shows or stuff on web sites.

    THEY ARE NOT CLOSED CAPTIONED AND THEREFORE DO NOT EXIST TO MANY OF US.

    So our only options are STILL cable or satellite.

  71. Buran says:

    @JoJo3737: And you’re sitting here complaining that people are daring to complain about high prices and shitty service on a service they want to have. Whether or not you want to have that service is up to you. Some of us just want geeky documentary channels in hi-def without being bent over, and we don’t want to hear about other peoples’ high-horse attitudes of how we should free our minds and other shit like that. I *LIKE* documentary TV. I just don’t like the stiff prices for all the shit I never use.

    And I have every right and reason to be unhappy with that. Gee, this is a consumer-advocacy web site. Where else should we talk about that sort of thing if not on this type of site?

  72. trk182 says:

    @The Stork: “When she wants to watch shows or movies that are not readily available online, she says she easily pirates them. “

    L2R.

  73. trk182 says:

    Ok for all those people who “don’t” own TV’s.

    If spend 4 hours a day watching TV shows on TV(Cable, Sat.,Ant., DirectTV wtf ever), then it’s wasting my time/life.

    But watching 4 hours of TV shows on the internet is some how enlightening and should be praised?

    So it’s the medium ……ok.

  74. Two months ago I subscribed to cable for the first time since 1997. In 1997 I was paying $19 a month for basic cable, now the same thing is $75. In 1997 I was paying around $65 for my cell phone account, now I pay about $72. Moral? Most cable services are monopolies in their areas and must be regulated.

  75. On a related note, I thought MTV couldn’t get any worse than it was a decade ago. I was wrong.

  76. klusta says:

    @postnocomments: It’s a weird racket even in places where there is competition (very rare, I know). I’m moving to Austin and thought about leaving DirecTV. Basic cable was 70$; my DirecTV package is high def DVR + 30 HD channels for 75$. To get a similar package with *both* available cable companies was 100$…with crappy high def. I’m surprised they’re still in business. But then again, I think enough people are numbed to the prices and just shrug it off.

  77. Hamm Beerger says:

    A la carte won’t help… only competition will help lower prices.

  78. planetdaddy says:

    @GhostMul:
    I have not had to call for service on my satalite TV. Cable was always screwing up. Satalite is a better deal. Sorry.

  79. MildredVole says:

    @zingbot:
    Regulation is NOT the answer to pricing. Regulation is the problem.

    Here we are only allowed ONE cable provider per address. No competition.
    Time Warner has a deal with the city, so Time Warner is what we get, and why
    my combined TV and internet bill went up to $140 before I dropped it. Very
    frustrating.

    If they would break up the monopoly, I would go with anyone who could
    provide basic channels plus the 5 or so channels we actually watch.

  80. projectpluto says:

    I recently dropped my cable tv subscription and I have to say I’m much happier for having done so.

    I was paying $60 a month and really only watching a small handful of channels. All of the shows I watched I can now download, and in some cases, for free online.

    The internet will beat the heck out of traditional cable tv. It is just a matter of time.

  81. freejazz38 says:

    You can all thank that useless moron John McCain for that. While he sits at the head of the Telecom committee, he bend over and says to the Cable Companies, “Just don’t stick it in too far, please.” As usual, he has done NOTHING. Bet you can guess who a big contributor to his campaign is! And idiots will STILL vote for the zero

  82. Ajh says:

    A new pricing idea! Company can offer…

    Basic Broadcast for Price A(required)
    Add on:
    10 non-premium channels of your choice
    20 non-premium channels of your choice
    premium channel packages

    People will go up to the higher amounts of channels as the tv addicts decide they need this channel and that channel anyway so the company will still profit.

    Doesn’t help that comcast upped their rates here. Does help that verizon offers DSL finally. This summer? We’re switching. Comcast can bite me. $70 a month for BROADCAST cable and internet? It’s outrageous.

    (Yes, I get only the stations I could get with an antenna. They don’t even promote the package. When I asked for it I had to describe it and point it out on the website or I’d be paying over $100 per month for basic. The phone person even tried to talk me out of it..oh that’s just like ABC and such you don’t want that you get much more choice with..)

  83. @freejazz38: Yep, all of this is exclusively the fault of a single senator. Good call. Jackass.

  84. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I quit watching TV once I started spending 3-4 hours a night on YouTube.

  85. darkryd says:

    I dropped my Cable service 2 years ago – and I couldn’t be happier.

    Netflix is my new best friend, and far far cheaper than cable.

  86. Starfury says:

    We had Comcast for cable/internet and it was $100/mo. This was for Analog service with extended basic service. They kept slowly disconnecting channels and not adding new ones to replace them. I called to find out about their digital service and it was $30/mo more.

    So I’ve dumped Tivo/comcast and now have Dish/ATT and pay about $25/mo less than I was before.

  87. sam1am says:

    My usenet account costs $12 a month and every show I want to watch is subscribed to via RSS and downloaded with SabNZBD+. It sits on my computer until I am ready to watch it, commercial free, using my media client connected to the projector in my front room.

    I think comcast charges $60 a month here and that doesn’t include on demand.

  88. A few months ago I switched from Comcast for cable and internet to ATT U-Verse. The old bill was $170, new bill is $124 and I get two more receivers and more channels.

  89. Yes please, a la carte! They can charge a basic “turning-on” fee ($20 or something) and then charge by channel — how hard is that??

    I’d make out like a bandit — we watch about 3 channels. But with my mom in the house, I can’t switch it all to Internet. Grr!