Save Money on Cable Television and TV Services

by Guest Blogger on 2009-07-1325

The following is a guest post by Satellite TV Guru, where you can read about everything you want to know about television. As a couch potato, I can definitely appreciate his site!

In hard economic times, usually the first thing that has to go are the items in your life that aren’t necessities. And while television and entertainment are of some importance to overall happiness for a good number of us, let’s face it: they’re not necessities. But if you cut down the average cost that you spend on television and movie shows, you may just be able to squeeze by without ditching the fun things in life. You can cut your entertainment costs without sacrificing the entertainment by reading this article on free ways to watch television online. And of course, there are also the tips I offer below!

Big Ways To Save Money On Cable Television and Satellite TV Services

1. Get what you need out of your television service.

Check out what you are paying for on your cable or satellite bill. You may have extended cable or movie channels that you probably have never even channel jumped to. Figure out exactly what you want from your cable service — what are you planning on watching? For some of you, having cable beyond a basic package is a waste of money.

But here’s where knowing what you need comes into play. Call your cable or satellite company and lay it on the line. Not only can you opt for a more basic package, but you can also opt for a more basic price. In hard economic times, I’d be willing to bet that many people cut their cable expense first. That’s good news for you, if you are looking to get a bargain. Call the billing customer service and ask them for a discount. But be prepared: you should know some ballpark market rates and find out what competing local cable companies charge for their cheaper services.

Stuck on what to say? Try this, as I just used it myself two weeks ago:

You: “Hey, cable or satellite company! I’m in a financial bind and looking for ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, your bill is too high and I may have to cut it. I’ve been a customer for a really long time and hate to do that, but other cable or satellite tv companies are offering me a more reasonable deal! I thought I’d see if you could offer me any discounts on my bill?”

Really Nice Cable Company Employee: “SURE!”

See how easy? Of course, it may not turn out that easy all the time. But knowing how your money is being spent on cable is half the battle.

If for some reason your cable or satellite company can’t offer you discounts and you’re not contractually obligated to staying with them, you may want to consider checking out Dish Network along with cheaper plans from DirecTV or Comcast.

2. Skip Pay Per View, always.

So you want to rent a movie or catch that special viewing only on Pay Per View. But the cost of Pay Per View is enough to make me cry. Usually, movies start at about $3.99, which is similar to the cost of renting a movie for three to seven days! If it’s a special event that you really want to splurge for, that’s a bit more forgivable, but do think about it. If you like to watch a movie every Friday night, you are adding about $16 to your monthly bill. That’s quite a difference!

3. Check out video rental services.

If you do find yourself frequently scanning the new releases, then check out video rental services. Services like Netflix or Blockbuster Online can be a great way to save on your entertainment costs. Netflix has service options available for as low as $4.99 a month. For those who don’t watch television frequently and are very busy, this option could even replace your cable costs.

Think about it: for just $16 a month, you receive unlimited movie and TV show rentals and movie streaming capabilities (also unlimited). This is an amazing deal! Especially if you have an XBox 360, where you can now rent Netflix from and stream directly to your television. You can even purchase a Roku player for a one time $99 fee; with this, you will have the capability to stream directly to your television. For those of you who don’t mind waiting to catch your favorite television series on DVD, this is something to strongly consider. Check out this full Netflix review.

4. Make going to the movies more affordable.

For some of you, going to the movies is a pretty important event. This is something I can understand. Being a movie buff can be pricey though. So for some basics: skip the snack bar. I know, I know. The popcorn smells absolutely delicious. But not only is it high in calories, it’s high in price. So instead, pack a wide variety of snacks from home, including drinks, and tuck it in a bag.

Skip the more expensive, night time movies and opt for a matinee. It’s cheaper and usually quieter!

Look out for coupons to the theater and check their website: your theater may offer cheaper prices for tickets purchased online. Sometimes, Fandango has promotional deals; however I wouldn’t recommend buying your tickets there on a regular basis because they charge an extra $1 a ticket as a fee.

cable television, tv servicesImage from WCCA TV13.

5. Check out other resources.

A lot of people forget about other local resources in their neighborhood. Particularly in the summertime heat, a lot of local towns and organizations may offer free movie viewings in the park. Check out what’s playing, pack up a cooler, and take your blanket. What better way to watch a flick than to do it for free? This is also a great option for those of you with children who aren’t quite ready to take their kids to the theater just yet. It’s certainly a nice way for the family to enjoy a show (outside of the house).

Check out your local library. Many libraries have a wide selection of DVDs available for check out. While they may require that you return the movie sooner than your books, it’s another great (free) option.

Finally, organize a movie night with friends! Everyone can bring a favorite movie and snack to settle down, hang out, and catch a movie. It can be a great way to see new movies that you may never would have tried to see, plus getting together with friends is just plain fun!

Don’t let the cost of entertainment and cable get you down. Just look for alternative, new ways around this and who knows, you’ll probably make your life that much more exciting!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil July 13, 2009 at 9:37 pm

When it comes to pay cable/satellite service, AT&T’s U-Verse plan was offered to me without a contract. If you’re looking for cable/satellite alternatives, you may want to try them out without the worry of being locked into a plan (their sign-up rebate also paid for my early termination fee from Dish Network – and they offer true 18 mbps internet access).

However – I did say goodbye to them as well because I realized everything I watched was was already available for free from several sources:

Here in mid Michigan, I’m near local affiliates for NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. This is all free off the air – and for the most part the reception is perfectly viewable. I am considering a rooftop antennae, but for now my standard rabbit ears do pretty well. Note also that with the recent switch to digital – I get channels off the air that previous providers did not offer (PBS has four sub-channels, Fox has two).

Having said that – I watch most of my TV online whenever I want. Hulu.com carries most everything I watch (no CBS though), but even the networks’ own websites stream their offerings for free and have respectably sized libraries. In a very true sense, it’s like on-demand TV for free. Just pull up NBC.com (for example) when you want to watch last night’s Chuck and there you go.

If you don’t relish the thought of watching tv on on a smaller computer monitor, you may wish to investigate hooking your computer up to your TV (all depends on the AV ins/outs on computer and TV). I have HDMI on computer and TV so I still watch online – but with my TV as the monitor – from my couch :) If your TV/Computer are fairly new, you may only be a cable (as in “cord”) purchase away.

Also, Netflix has a big selection of TV Series – I’ve had fun renting entire seasons of shows I never caught the first time around.

If you’re interested in “group movie nights” I found several local “movie buff” groups at meetup.com. Contrary to it’s name – it is NOT a dating site, but IS a site for local groups and organizations to publicize/organize their meet-ups. Lots more potential for low cost entertainment there as well :)

Great post – and sorry if I’m ranting – I just love not having a cable bill and still being able to see all I want – legally – for free :)

Scott Lovingood July 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I can attest to hulu.com being a wonderful resource. I also have clips of CNBC available on my thinkorswim stock trading platform. They aren’t real time but not delayed much.

Netflix is amazing. I have been a member for over 2 years. My brother gave it to me for a Christmas gift. I have the two movies at once and can turn 4 movies a week. Thats more movies than I really want to see in any year. Combine it with a 60 inch projection tv and surround sound and you can have movie night at the house.

And my parents have cable for the shows I can’t get any where else :)

Shannon July 14, 2009 at 6:13 am

Great post and a lot of helpful ideas during these difficult times.

I would like to add a couple of things:

1) Definitely call the cable company. When I called to lower or disconnect service, I chose that option from their touch tone options. It seems these people are more willing to help and have more say in decreasing the rate. Also, when I called, I found that we were paying for 100 more channels that we never even watch (or knew existed). They removed those channels and gave us a nice discount on our bill for the next 12 months. We went from $121 (with Internet) to $94.11 a month. All it took was 5 minutes of my time.

2) Not many people know it but a number of movie theaters not only have matinees but also AM tickets. For our local AMC, the matinee costs $7.50 per adult but the AM showings are just $5.00 per adult. We go to the second show of the day (around 10:30am), bring our own small bags of snacks and it costs me and my husband just $10 to see a movie together. Plus, our movie theater is in a high end mall so we get to enjoy browsing the mall after.

:)

CentsInTheCity July 14, 2009 at 7:05 am

I just called Time Warner cable and chose the option to change or cancel service. Once I had a rep on the phone I told her that I wanted to know what was involved with canceling the service, since I had found a cheaper deal and was debating switching. Within 15 minutes I had knocked $30 off my monthly bill.

Andy July 14, 2009 at 7:32 am

A few months ago I gave up cable TV entirely and I don’t even really miss it much. I only watched a handful of channels out of the 100 or so on my plan, and wasted a lot of time surfing. Instead I went with full high-speed internet, got a Roku player, and signed up for Netflix. My Internet bill is $57 a month, where I used to be spending about $140 for cable and internet. I have the one movie at a time unlimited plan from Netflix for $8.95. I’m near a distribution center so I end up getting about two movies a week. But what really pays off watching movies online. Netflix has a good collection of online movies and shows. I get to watch movies I haven’t seen without waiting for them in the mail, and I more or less get to have movies I love available all the time without actually having to buy them. Great deal. Until the FCC steps in and makes cable provide a la carte channel subscription instead of buying expensive tiers to get the channels you want, I’ll stick to this.

Jodi Heidbreder July 14, 2009 at 8:04 am

Love these tips. Regarding tip #1, there is a simple way to check all your options to know if you may be paying more than you should. WhiteFence.com is a site that will show you the available plans and prices for a specific residential address so you know where you stand, whether you save money by ordering through the site or are armed with valuable information before you call your provider direct.

Manshu July 14, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I called comcast a few days ago and though they didn’t reduce the price, they did give me some extra channels for free so that’s also not bad.

RichBy30Retireby40 Blog July 14, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I suggest cutting cable out completely and just going Netflix/Blockbuster Online.

Rgds,

RB

Kevin@OutOfYourRut July 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm

In regard to the movies–if you don’t want to skip the snack bar entirely…

You can buy the same candy sold in movie theaters for $3-$5, at your grocery store or pharmacy for usually a $1 a box. Many movie theaters offer free refills if you buy the largest popcorn bucket, so order one for the whole family, and bring paper bags for sharing, and refill the bucket if need be. Drinks… smuggle them in, frozen in advance if that’s needed to keep them cold.

Matinees can save a dollar or two per head if you can move your movie viewing to before 4:00 in the afternoon.

David July 18, 2009 at 4:59 am

You forgot to mention something about movies (#4): second-run theaters. Yeah, the floors may be a bit stickier and the chairs not as comfy, but you can get a ticket for $5.00 (or cheaper for matinees or just in general depending on the theater) instead of $8.50. The first run theater here has prices of $8.50 for normal shows and $6.50 for matinees. So the second run theater is cheaper normally than the special prices for the first run theater!

Jason August 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I noticed the part about Netflix and Blockbuster…Have you ever used the video boxes that are in the front of stores like Redbox and MovieCube? I’ve tried both of them and they work great. $1 per movie–can’t beat that!

Trogg December 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

There are some great ideas here. I haven’t come across Netflix before, something to check out. I got rid of my cable a few months back when I came across this way to watch tv on my pc. It covers what I need anyway.

Sam December 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm

We canceled our dish and the cable and went with watching movies and TV shows directly on the computer by some free ways, as well as a software program. We have now been disconnected from cable for over a year now and can’t be any happier.

Luke Allen January 19, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Satellite TV offers many advantages: better quality, more channels, and future-proof technology.

Dan February 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Here is my free digital broadcast TV package. Yes, that is what I pull out of the air for free with an inexpensive antenna.

2 x ABC HD
2 x NBC HD
2 x CBS HD
2 x FOX HD
2 x MyNetwork 1HD 1SD
2 x CW 1HD 1SD
1 x PBS in HD
PBS, Create, Documentary, MegaHertz, LeSea, HSN and MTV3 in SD with more to come.

Why would I pay one red cent on cable?

Try an antenna, you might be glad you did!

Satellite TV February 9, 2010 at 6:16 am

However – I did say goodbye to them as well because I realized everything I watched was was already available for free from several sources!

Ajmali February 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

watching TV through internet is time saving as well as money saving

Ivan March 3, 2010 at 6:59 am

Broadband revolution, created a revolution in viewing TV programs. Almost all television programs broadcast from any location in the world are on the internet; just direct them to your computer!

adrian winters April 13, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Thanks for your article. These are really some great ways to cut down on your entertainment costs. I recently noticed all the commercial battles between Dish Network and Direct TV, it’s actually kind of funny.

Tyler June 25, 2010 at 8:21 am

The hunt for cheaper satellite TV is never ending… the internet is no doubt a good alternative, but there will always be the ‘not so into WWW’ folk who will stick to satellite TV…

Jordan July 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Hey, This is an incredibly informative article, way to go! I do agree that cable and satellite tv can be fairly expensive, but some satellite tv providers can actually give some good deals. Thanks for the info!

Saving Lady July 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

I had extended cable from Comcast for a very long time. One day I took a look at the TV guide in my local paper and discovered that there was hardly anything worth watching on all those other channels. A few of the programs I liked I could find on Hulu.com. Others were on DVD’s for rent thru Netflix. I replaced CNN with much better news programs on my local public broadcasting channel. In total, I canceled extended cable which was costing me over $50/month and dropped down to basic cable for less than $10/month. Do I miss extended cable? Absolutely not!! I read more, visit more with friends, and am venturing into more interesting viewing material elsewhere.

MarkAngelo November 25, 2010 at 7:22 am

This is magnificent, this article gives me more ideas on saving enough money, spending it in a good way. The real point here is, practicality is always number one, am i right?

Rod Potter August 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Wasn’t happy with $200 a month fees on cable so as an owner of a small video production company, I decided to work out ways to save money on various cable, TV, web, DVR and phone services. You can do this with some new technology on the market. I showcase these products/technologies/tricks that can do the job and save you money. Check my video at savemoneyoncable.com. Thanks, Rod

John_in _NC June 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The problem with TV is there is very little good content and is impossible to watch without a DVR because of the never ending run on commercials, it seems.

Everyone needs to ban together and drop the service which will send a harsh message to the providers that it is just not worth it.

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