In what seems like an annual thing, cable bills all across the country have been going up. No matter which provider you use, you are likely paying more now for their services than before.
Maybe you noticed the change in your automatic bill pay amount, or perhaps you got a letter warning of the increase. Regardless of how you learned of it, chances are your reaction to the news was not filled with smiles, laughter and unabashed joy.
Nobody likes spending more money on anything, and the cable companies' reasoning for the price hikes likely fall on mostly deaf ears. If you are the kind of person who doesn't pay much attention to bills, especially those you are going to pay anyway, you may not have even noticed.
The rising costs of cable
Possibly the worst part about the price increases is that you cannot really turn to another provider to find a better deal. Unless you have interest in one of the streaming services, you are going to have to pay more.
But why is that? Why are all the prices going up?
According to the cable companies, it's a byproduct of the rising costs of them carrying traditional broadcast networks. They say the price to provide us with Fox and CBS, among others, has gone up, and some of the cost is being passed on to us.
How much of the added cost is landing on customers and how much is being eaten by the cable companies is uncertain, but even if they are taking on a fair share of the burden, it's not likely to make too many of us feel better. It's understandable we'll have to pay more for premium channels, DVRs and other features, but in terms of the basic channels, any additional cost just seems wrong.
How much more are you paying?
There is no one-size-fits-all price increase, but most either have or are about to go up.
Dish Networks raised its prices by $2 to $5 back in January, with the actual number being dependent on which package you have. There was also a $2 per month increase in order to have local channels.
AT&T raised the cost for U-verse video subscribers $2 to $8 per month, though the cost of their U-basic plan is unchanged. Their broadcast TV surcharge has gone up $5 to $6, though.
Comcast prices went up in January, with most of their bundled packages rising by about $5 per month. Their broadcast fee went up $1, while prices for specific packages as well as missed payment fees also received an increase.
DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T, boosted its prices $2 to $8 a month, depending on the plan, back in January. Regional sports fees went up at most $1, while the cost to get the Outdoor Channel rose $1.50. If you are a fan of NFL Sunday Ticket, the Max Package will rise from the $378 it was last year to $396 next season.
Cox Communications raised its rates in January, charging $1 more per month for its basic plan and $5 more for its larger TV packages. Adding to the increase was the change in their broadcast fee, which went from $4 to $7.50 per month, while regional sports surcharges rose to, on average, $5.15 from $4.20.
Altice/Optimum got a head start on the increase game, raising their rates an average of 2.4 percent back in November. Specifically, their Broadcast Basic tier went up at most $4 per month, and they started charging some customers $4 per month for a broadcast TV fee that had previously only been applied to new customers. There is also now a sports surcharge of up to $2 more per month.
So what are your options?
If you really enjoy your cable provider and don't mind paying a little more, there's nothing you have to do. However, if the rising costs are beginning to strain your finances, you have options.
As previously mentioned, you could switch to one of the many streaming services. Popular options include Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu, YouTubeTV and PlayStation Vue, and though they don't offer as many channels as traditional cable providers, there's a good chance they will not leave you wanting.
We've created a comparison chart showing which channels are offered on each service. Here's a small preview:
The previous image is just a small sample of information that you'll find on the chart. Click here to view the complete list with nearly 170 top channels and which streaming service channel lineup they're available on.
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