Cord Trimming: Cutting the Cable Bill

April 28, 2013

At the beginning of the year, I was contemplating “cutting the cord” and canceling my cable TV subscription. After thinking about it ad nauseum, I decided to keep a cable TV package, albeit a lower cost one with fewer channels. After all of the analysis, I realized that canceling cable would only result in incremental savings. Those incremental savings were not worth the disruption and the loss of content. While cord cutters typically keep their Internet connection, the savings is incremental given the pricing structure of most cable companies.


The good news is that renewing my Verizon FIOS contract did result in about $20 of monthly savings. I saved money two ways: I dropped my cable package from Extreme HD down to Prime HD (290 vs. 210 channels). Verizon had upgraded me to Extreme sometime ago for no additional cost and the reality is that I didn’t watch most of those additional channels. My existing Internet package, 25/25 Mbps was no longer an option so I chose to drop down to the 15/5 Mbps package. While my upload speed did drop, download speeds are comparable to the old 25/25 package. Total cost with taxes and two CableCARDs is now about $115.

As I went through the renewal process, I was pleased to see that Verizon now offers a more bare-bones cable TV package called “Select HD” (150+ channels / 30+ HD). I could saved a few more dollars by opting for Select HD. However, Select HD is missing both Comedy Central and ESPN (a major driver for the cost of cable). Given the desire to watch baseball and the convenience of watching Comedy Central on the big screen (one could watch the Daily Show and Colbert on the Comedy Central web site), I opted for the Prime HD package.

When I finalized my package, Verizon informed me there was an addition $6 regional sports fee for New England Sports Network (NESN). That felt somewhat disingenuous to sneak the fee in during check out. Regardless, I am still saving money, so onwards.

After renewing, the only surprise was that BBC America was not included in the Prime HD package. The surprise stemmed from seeing BBC America listed in the lower tier  Select HD package. You have to upgrade to the Extreme HD package to get BBC America back. I’ll pass and buy Doctor Who a la carte.

The other way I’m saving money is by suspending my Netflix account for a few months. While I enjoy the Netflix service, I’m also an Amazon Prime member and there’s lots of overlap between the two services. I’ve gotten through a lot of the exclusive Netflix content including House of Cards and Lilyhammer. A bad cold one weekend allowed me to get through the lingering titles in my Instant Queue including Conan O’Brien’s Can’t Stop and Page One. I’m also disappointed that Netflix reserves their best video quality, Super HD, only for customers on ISPes participating in their Open Connect program.

What’s the point of saving money, if you can’t spend it? I’m using the savings to subscribe to HBO to watch season 3 of Game of Thrones. There’s a promotion on FIOS where HBO is now only $9 a month for up to 12 months. Between HBO, Amazon Prime and the regular cable line-up including a great season of Mad Men, there’s more than enough content to watch on this trimmed cord.



Tags: Amazon Instant, cable, FIOS, Netflix, TV

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