Cable TV shenanigans

About a month ago, I blogged about how my cable TV provider was discontinuing my old plan and moving me to a new one. That’s happened, so I now have BBC America, Disney XD, and a few other channels that I’ll probably never watch. For the first year of the new plan, it should have been slightly cheaper than my old plan, so I was OK with that.

For a while now, Cablevision has been tacking on a “surcharge” of $6 per month for “sports and broadcast TV.” This is basically just a way for them to raise prices without saying that they’re raising prices. Well, this month, they announced that they’re splitting the surcharge into two separate surcharges, a $5 sports surcharge, and a $4 broadcast TV surcharge. As silly as the original surcharge was, splitting it into two separate charges is even sillier. And, while it’s not a huge price increase, it does wipe out the price difference between my old plan and the new plan, so I’m now paying about $1 more per month than I was previously.

Ever since Altice bought Cablevision, I’ve been wondering what kind of changes they’d make. It looks like they’re taking the path of eliminating legacy plans and bumping up prices a bit, while taking some steps to avoid losing customers (like the promotional pricing they gave me for the first year). So, I’d say they’re still better than most of the other cable companies out there, but that’s not saying much. Cable TV prices keep rising at a rate higher than inflation, and I don’t think that situation is going to get any better, as the industry continues to consolidate into a few very large companies.

This is all pushing me even further towards cord-cutting, though I’ve decided that I won’t do that until at least a year from now, when my second year of TiVo service is up, and my promotional pricing from the cable company expires. The NY Times recently published an interesting guide to cord-cutting, with advice based on your viewing habits.

On the cable TV side of things, I think that cord-cutting will, at some point, exert enough pressure to keep prices in check. Even without that pressure, TV service isn’t a necessity, so there’s that. I’m worried about the internet service side of this thing though. High-speed internet service is becoming more of a necessity, especially for people like me. The tendency for prices to go up while service quality goes down, when one company has a monopoly in a given area, is well-documented. For now, I’m quite grateful that I live in an area where Cablevision/Altice has to compete with Verizon, so there’s at least some incentive for both companies to provide good service at a not-too-ridiculous price.

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