Sorry if I sound a little too excited in that title. I'm choosing to looking at the glass as half-full. However, it is quite possible that one could look at the glass as half empty... I was overpaying for my cable for some time. Finally, after writing about trying to cut the cable twice, I am making progress (see: Cutting the Cable TV and Cutting the Cable TV (Part 2))
My cable and Internet bill for May of this year was a whopping $221.91. I use the Internet connection quite a bit. So $48 of that ($43 for the service and $5 for the modem lease), each month is pretty reasonable. That leaves me paying $173.91 for television. That's a pretty shocking amount since I don't watch that much television. And the only cable shows that I typically watch are Men of a Certain Age (TNT), Rescue Me (FX), and True Blood (HBO). That seems a lot of money for that, doesn't it?
It turns out that $44.75 of that bill was for MLB Extra Innings. That allows me to watch Red Sox games from San Francisco. There are only four of those payments a year, but that still comes out to about $180 for the season. We watch a lot of Red Sox games, so we are talking about $158.91 a month for everything else (taking the $180 and pro-rating it over the 12 months = $15 a month). That's still a lot of money for a few shows.
So I took a trip to the Comcast office to see what I could do about reducing my bill.
Current cost saving measures:
- Remove HBO - Savings: $19.99/mo. - Sorry True Blood. You are great, but not that great. We the first 4 Sookie Stackhouse books on Paperback Swap, for the cost of postage. I may go over a friend's house to watch it. I only had HBO because it was free with a previous promotion and I never canceled it. I didn't realize that True Blood was costing me $4.50 an episode... more if you consider that there are months when I was paying for HBO and True Blood wasn't airing new episodes.
- Remove Sports Entertainment Package - $6.95 - The only channel that we watched here is the NFL Network. I woke up early this Sunday and went to turn it on only to remember that I gave it up. I decided to read some articles about the Patriots on the Internet instead... not a big loss there.
- Remove Digital Preferred Package - Savings: $16.95/mo. - We watched none of the channels here, but it seems like it was a prerequisite for the NFL Network. (For some reason, the Sports Entertainment Package channels are listed in the Preferred Package
- Unsolicited $30 savings a month - The person at the office said that she could give me $15 off on both my cable and and my Internet service each month for 6 months. I didn't even have to ask if there was anything they could do.
That's a total savings of around $59... not bad from a $158.91 start. However, the amazing thing is that there's more fat to trim from my bill.
Proposed future cost saving measures:
- Watch MLB.TV through our Media Center - Savings: $5/mo - This is a rare no-brainer. The cost for the Internet version is $119.95, about a savings of $60 from the cable version. It's a better product as the video feed is better quality (a friend has it and we watched it one time) and you have the freedom to watch it anywhere there is Internet - not just at your home with your cable box. The computer that we set up near our television has an HDMI out which is perfect for steaming HDTV-quality to our television.
- Switch to Limited Basic - Savings $52/mo - This is the big switch. This is getting rid of most of the cable channels you know and love... ESPN, CNN, MTV, FX, TNT, CNBC, USA, etc. I can catch Men of a Certain Age on TNT's website (or I could last season). So the other thing that we'd be missing here is the occasional Saturday morning wake up to the Food and Travel channels. I don't think this is worth $52 a month, but I haven't been able to fully convince my wife of this. Baby steps for now.
- Remove DVR service - Savings $8/mo - In order to go to the Limited Basic (see above) we would have to give up the Comcast HD/DVR box and go with a straight HD box. I love DVR, but it's possible we could use the hard drive space on our media center to serve the same purpose. If any readers have suggestions for products to make this easy to use (especially important for the wife) such as this Hauppauge product or any of these ones, let me know in the comments. I don't mind a one-time cost that I can recoup over the course of a couple of years.
- By the HD box and Cable Modem hardware instead of renting them: Savings $13/mo ($8/mo for set-top box, $5 for cable modem) - I've been paying $5 for about a bazillion years for this cable modem. I should look to just buy one and own it outright. It looks like the cable modem may be $60 on Ebay, so it would pay for itself for a year. As for the HD box, I see a couple of those on Ebay as well. Perhaps there is a Hauppauge product for that as well. It's another thing to research.
If I can do all the above, my cable and Internet bill will be $58 a month ($45 for Internet, $13 for basic cable) after a few one-time costs (and of course various fees and taxes). However, at that point, a strong case could be made to give up even basic cable and get HDTV channels that I watch over the air with an antenna for a one-time cost. That would make us completely free of cable television, without changing our viewing habits or the shows we typically watch that much.
Final note: I found that Comcast changed the prices of services without notifying us. For example in May we paid $4.99 for the Sports Entertainment Package, $18.99 for HBO, and $47.95 for cable modem service. In September we paid, $6.95, $19.99, and $49.95 for the three respectively. The just encourages me to cut table television more.
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