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5 Ways to Cut Your Cable Bill

With cable rates rising each year and many more options now available to the consumer, including streaming services like Netflix and Hulu and internet-based skinny bundle plans from providers like Dish Network’s Sling TV, it is easier than ever to cut your cable bill. But say you want to stick with your cable TV provider. Are there ways you can still lower your bill without switching to another service or cutting the cord altogether? There sure are. Read on below for three ways you can lower your monthly cable bill without leaving your cable TV provider.

  1. Buy a bundle. When you purchase cable TV as part of a two or three service bundle with a provider like Charter Spectrum, you save on the monthly price of each service and only have one bill to remember. Consider a three-service bundle for the most savings and consolidate your internet, TV and phone onto one monthly bill. Or if you don’t need a landline, bundle TV and internet and you can still save.
  2. Trim the Fat. Take a look at your channel lineup and see what it is you really watch. If you don’t watch extra sports or premium channels, cut those from your package and see how much you can save by moving to a basic package from a mid-level or gold tier package.
  3. Avoid Contracts. While contracts can lock you in to a lower rate they also keep you locked up for a certain period of time, usually two years. With technology and the industry quickly changing, you might find yourself looking at a cheaper option and unable to switch in the middle of your contract. Find a service, like Charter Spectrum, that does not lock you in to a contract

In addition, you can always negotiate with your provider if you find your bills too high to handle. You’d be surprised how much you can get knocked off your bill by just threatening to cancel. If you pay your bills on time, they’ll definitely work with you for a more reasonable rate in order to keep your business.

Streaming Gaining Steam over Cable TV

A survey reported on by eMarketer shows that 31% of internet users, nearly a third of all users, use streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu for their primary mode of TV watching. That’s behind only traditional cable TV providers at 35%, and up from 24% just a year ago. Satellite TV comes next at 17%.

More findings from the survey:

Among the top reasons given by those who retained cable packages for traditional TV service were access to broadcast TV channels, sports content and premium channels.

On the other end, streaming’s success can pretty much be summed up in one word—Netflix. Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents named Netflix as one of the services they would pay for if they had to choose just three, based on their current budget.

Netflix’s strategy of picking up the back catalogs of content studios at cut-rate prices is long gone, now that it’s demonstrated that even decades-old content can still have value in the digital era.

But the company’s pivot to creating its own original content appears to be working. According to data from RBC Capital Markets, 58% of Netflix subscribers surveyed in November said the company’s original content influenced their decision to sign up.

Netflix appears to be doubling down on its originals strategy. In its Q3 earnings call, the company said it planned to spend $8 billion on content in 2018, hoping to increase the share of that type of material to half of its overall content library.

Surveys like these showing the growth of streaming and the shrinking of cable subscriptions abound, and the findings show that the convenience of watching what you want, when you want to beats live TV every time, except for live sporting events and the odd other live popular events, like the Academy Awards. They also show that cable TV companies aren’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon, because they’re usually also the major internet provider for a given area.

Still, cable companies will need to improve the convenience and selection of their On Demand options and continue to offer content that no one else can get, making sure that some popular shows stay on cable and off of Hulu, if they want people to continue to get cable along with their internet.

NHL National TV Schedule: December

With the college football playoff set and the NFL season winding down, it’s time to start paying attention to that other cold weather sport: hockey. NBC Sports Network airs two or three games a week nationally, with a focus on popular east coast teams and classic rivalries. Here is the NHL national cable TV schedule for the month of December (all times EST):

Tue., Dec. 5 N.Y. Rangers Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 5 Minnesota Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 6 Chicago Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 12 Tampa Bay St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 13 Boston Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 16 Montreal Ottawa NBCSN 7 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 19 Boston Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 20 Detroit Philadelphia NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 27 Washington N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thur., Dec. 28 Boston Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Thur., Dec. 28 Vegas Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 29 Nashville Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.

There are a couple of games that pique particular interest. Tuesday, December 12’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning pits the league’s two best teams this year against one another. Both are well-balanced teams and it should be an up tempo game featuring quite a bit of offense. December 28’s game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Los Angeles Kings will bit the two best teams in the Pacific—though since it takes place in Los Angeles, the Vegas home ice advantage won’t have either team hungover.

NBCSN is available from most cable TV and satellite TV providers.

In Europe, Cable TV is Growing

Unlike the United States, where cable TV providers are experiencing subscriber loss, European cable operators are growing in revenue, according to a report from Television News Daily:

European cable operators grew a modest 4% last year in revenue to €23.5 billion Euros ($27.8 billion).

According to IHS Markit, cable homes are rising with “steady growth” — now 30.5% of total European TV homes, or 65.1 million subscribers.

Germany is the biggest territory in terms of subscribers, at 18.6 million.

Germany also pulls in the most revenue — nearly $6 billion. The United Kingdom comes next, at approximately $4.9 billion, followed by the Netherlands at $2.6 billion; Switzerland at $2.4 billion and Spain at $2.1 billion.

European cable operators get 34% of their overall revenue from internet related businesses.

Estimates are that satellite TV will continue to grow. Digital TV Research projects that pay television penetration in Western Europe will increase to 59.4% in 2021, from 56.8% at the end of 2015. The number of subscribers will rise to 104.3 million from 97.4 million.

IHS says: “There is plenty of room for further consolidation in cable, especially in fragmented markets in Central and Eastern Europe.”

So what are the reasons for this difference? European cable providers often have far smaller channel lineups and do not have companies like ESPN who drive up prices for each and every cable TV provider. The US also has more streaming service options popping up each and every day, while European countries that do not have English as the primary language for entertainment have far fewer options when it comes to streaming TV.

Still, American cable companies can learn something from satellite and cable TV providers in the EU. Offering slimmer packages based on particular interests was something that happened in Europe before in the US, as HBOGO premiered outside of cable subscribership in Europe. When streaming catches up in Europe, though, it’s likely just as many will be cutting the cord—it’s only a matter of time.

How Many People Ditched Cable TV in Q3 of 2017?

More and more people are ditching traditional cable TV providers, according to a report from Leichtman Research Group, Inc. In the third quarter of 2017, the largest pay-TV providers in the United States, representing about 95% of the market—the other 5% accounting for various small local providers yet to be subsumed by the larger companies—lost nearly half a million subscribers in Q3 of 2017, as compared to a net loss of around a quarter of a million over the same time period in 2016.

In addition, according to the company’s release:

“The top pay-TV providers account for 92.2 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 48.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services about 32.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.3 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services having about 2.5 million subscribers.”

The two major satellite TV providers were the biggest losers, with DIRECTV and DISH Network losing 251,000 and 224,000 respectively. Cable giant Comcast lost 126,000 subscribers, and Charter Spectrum lost around 90,000. AT&T U-Verse also lost big, with more than 135,000 subscribers ditching the phone provider’s cable TV option.

The trends are looking up in only one area—internet-delivered, cable TV like packages. Both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, delivered via internet connections as opposed to their regular satellite TV counterparts, grew by 240,000 and 296,000 subscribers respectively. The advantages to these packages—lower cost, less hardware and installation, and the ability to further curate slimmer channel lineups based on your particular taste, fall in line with what many consumers are looking for. Basically, if you don’t want ESPN or HBO, Sling TV can give you a package tailored to your taste at far below the cost. Look for the industry to trend this way in the future, as following the leader is the way of this business.

DIRECTV Lowers MLB Extra Innings Price

In contrast with what they have done with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV is lowering the price of the MLB Extra Innings package this year once again. Last year the price dropped by 12.5%, and for the 2017 season the price will be $172.74 compared to last year’s $173.94, which isn’t much of a drop, but when the trends of cable TV and satellite TV prices continually going up, it is a good deal for baseball fans living outside of their favorite teams’ home television markets.

More from Awful Announcing:

In addition, DirecTV will include a free subscription to MLB.TV to those who buy Extra Innings so fans not only can watch out-of-market games on TV, but they can watch on computers, mobiles, tablets and connected TV’s. This is the third straight year that DirecTV is including MLB.TV with Extra Innings.

The price in essence remaining flat as last year is a good thing considering how DirecTV is planning to increase its NFL Sunday Ticket package by over 9% before the 2017 season and by another 2% after the season starts.

Still, subscribers not seeing a dramatic increase this year for the baseball package is a good thing, but they know that there is the potential for the other shoe to drop next season. For now, baseball fans who want to purchase MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV get a price break, albeit small, for 2017.

MLB Extra Innings, unavailable on DISH Network, allows viewers to watch up to 60 out of market baseball games each week of the regular season, usually with a choice between home and away broadcast teams.

Cable TV Bills Going Up in 2017

Each year, due to inflation and other changes in the marketplace, services from cable TV providers and satellite TV providers tend to rise in price for the end consumer. The rise in cost has to do not only with inflation, but the rising costs providers face for carrying broadcast networks like CBS and Fox and the costs associated with carrying regional sports networks who have made big deals with local sports teams. According to Consumer Reports, here’s how your TV bill will be affected in 2017.

  • AT&T U-Verse: $2 to $8 more per month per package.
  • Cablevision/Altice/Suddenlink: 3.4 percent per month.
  • Comcast: $12 more per month.
  • Charter/Time Warner: pending upon adjustment of plan pricing for previous Time Warner customers.
  • Cox: 2 percent per video package.
  • Dish Network: $5 per month.
  • DIRECTV: Between $2 and $6 per month, plus $2.56 for regional sports networks in some but not all service areas.
  • Verizon: $3 per month.

Stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone Blog for more updates on pricing in the industry.

Alternatives to Cable TV Flourishing

While the sky is not falling quite as predicted a couple of short years ago with regards to cord cutters hurting the cable TV and satellite TV industries, one type of alternative to traditional cable programming is flourishing, with internet-connected TV devices growing in prevalence. NPD Connected Intelligence predicts that there will be 238 million installed internet-connected TV devices by 2019, representing a 59% growth over that time.

More from Multichannel News:

NPD said connected TVs will drive 45% of the growth in the next four years, while less expensive, streaming media players will drive 35% of that growth.

“With an ever-increasing number of connectable devices expected to be connected to the Internet, viewers will have the ability to choose their preferred option instead of using the only device they have attached to their TV,” John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst at NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement. “This shift will inevitably result in diminished usage for some devices.”

This year and through 2019, NPD also expects streaming media devices to be found in more homes than any other connected TV devices, pointing to products from companies such as Google, Roku, Amazon and Apple.  Likewise, NPD expects a consolidation and shakeout of operating systems to occur, as more TV makers opt to partner with the likes of Roku and Google and step away from managing their own app ecosystems.

NPD based its forecast and research on a consumer panel of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18-plus.

How will this affect the cable and satellite TV business? Likely, it will still result in revenue for cable and satellite companies as these devices are powered by broadband internet that these providers also offer. Stay tuned to find out.

NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV – Week 5 Schedule

The only way for NFL fans to catch every game, every Sunday on their home TVs is with NFL Sunday Ticket, exclusively available from DIRECTV. NFL Sunday Ticket and DIRECTV are both available from Mid-America Satellite. Check back each week for the times and listings for Sunday’s games on NFL Sunday Ticket right here at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

Here’s the Sunday afternoon schedule for Week 5 of NFL action:

  • 1pm EDT
    • New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns – Channel 705
    • Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins – Channel 706
    • Houston Texans at Minnesota Vikings – Channel 707
    • New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers – Channel 708
    • Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens – Channel 709
    • Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – Channel 710
    • Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts – Channel 711
  • 4:05pm EDT
    • Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos – Channel 712
  • 4:25pm EDT
    • Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams – Channel 713
    • San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – Channel 714
    • New York Giants at Green Bay Packers – Channel 715

Enjoy the games!

Networks and Cable Channels Bid for Big Ten Conference Rights

Current contracts to air Big Ten sports end after the 2016-17 season, with the conference now taking bids for either new contracts from new network and cable TV channels or extensions to the current contracts, which currently belong to ESPN and Fox. ESPN has been airing football and basketball games, with Fox airing the Big Ten Football Championship and running the Big Ten Network.

More from Awful Announcing:

But as Sports Business Journal reports, both ESPN and Fox have been undergoing cost cuts due to cord cutting and increased sports rights fees so their bids may not be as high as the Big Ten would like.

CBS has a basketball contract that includes the semifinals and finals of the Big Ten Tournament and would like to retain that portion and possibly a smaller package of rights. The same goes for Turner Sports which would like to have some basketball games that would compliment its NCAA Tournament rights.

NBC which has been mostly shut out of college sports except for the CAA, Ivy League and Notre Dame plans to explore a potential bid, but it’s not known how serious it will be.

The Big Ten bidding will be watched closely and with a conference footprint that goes from the Midwest all the way to the East Coast, the league expects that it will see increased rights and a financial windfall that will carry it well into the next decade and possibly beyond.

Could this be the tide turning on live sports rights, which up to this point have been the last vestige of moneymaking unaffected by cord cutting? We’ll see.