Cable Crunch—Bypassing the High Premiums

Since 2010, the number of cable subscribers in the United States has dropped from 44.5 million to only 40 million. This drastic decline can be attributed to several factors including unending price increases, a growing affinity towards video streaming subscriptions, and alternative, “non-cable” TV providers like satellite companies (DISH and DIRECTV) and Telcos (AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS). For customers debating between cutting the cable cord completely and finding a more affordable alternative, the choice can be taxing.

Cable Dish

According to Mark Sullivan from TechHive, “one of the biggest reasons for the subscriber losses is quickly-rising licensing prices being asked by TV network and Hollywood content creator/owners.” This reoccurring pattern—price hikes and subscriber losses—has encouraged online streaming providers (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) to increase their offerings while cutting costs. Netflix, for example, offers a one- month free trial for all new customers. Following the introductory period, the rate switches to $7.99 a month. As a paid subscriber you’ll receive access to TV shows and instantly-streaming movies on your PS3, Wii, Xbox, PC, Mac, tablet, or TV. It also delivers content in 1080p which is better quality than many other online sites provide. Hulu Plus supports a similar platform—for the same price as Netflix— with the exception that it features content not requiring a subscription to view.

“Non-cable” TV providers like DISH and DIRECTV are some of the leading satellite companies offering internet to direct movie downloads in addition to new blockbuster releases. When you subscribe with DIRECTV you’ll get an HD DVR receiver to record your favorite shows plus 7,000+ shows/movies on the interactive channel list. AT&T U-verse TV delivers a comparable entertainment experience with over 190 HD channels and rich picture quality matched with sound. These “non-cable” options are other cost effective alternatives cable subscribers can select.

If you decide to go the online streaming route, you’ll need to have an internet connection which supports fast speeds and adequate bandwidth in order to avoid lagging picture quality and hours of buffering. Fiber internet is one of the optimal services for viewing videos and streaming content from Netflix and Hulu. It can be up to 50 times faster than the average broadband speed and is available from some of the leading internet service providers (ISPs). So if this service is so advanced, why doesn’t everyone utilize it? Compared to regular broadband, fiber internet is very limited in terms of regional offerings.

Now if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and leaning towards keeping cable in one form or another you may want to consider this recent report on TIME.  It suggests that Time Warner Cable and Comcast may merge companies and consequently monopolize the telecommunications industry. Comcast already dominates a large portion of the market so if these big players join forces, the outcome will be catastrophic for customers. Reduced competition might result in higher rates and overall higher monthly bills on your end.

Navigating the realm of digital offerings can pose a challenge for those unaware of their options. Whether you decide to ditch your cable or enjoy a happy medium between online streaming and basic cable, it’s important to identify the best value for your budget.  To check the availability of cable, or internet service in your area, simply enter your zip code into for a full breakdown and description.

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