If youre a satellite or cable TV subscriber, youve become accustomed to yearly rate hikes.
Theres nothing you can do but weep.
Its not like you could live without Breaking Bad, right?
(If you went to Centennial High with Aaron Paul, tell me its not crazy seeing him on that show.)
But as bills keep growing faster than paychecks, more consumers are actively seeking ways to lower the cost of that monthly gut punch from TV providers.
Its often as easy as a phone call.
TV guru Phillip Swann, president and CEO of website TVPredictions.com, says pay-TV subscribers have never had more power.
Savvy consumers will call customer service. They negotiate. And, because competition is fiercer than ever, these companies often listen.
Whats the harm in asking nicely for a lower monthly bill? Or for additional channels?
It can be done, Swann says. You can do it.
Chances are, youll be offered a carrot of some type. Sometimes its three months of a premium channel such as Starz. Other times particularly if youre no longer under one of those dreaded two-year contracts theyll actually knock $5, $10, $15 or more off your bill for three months, six months, even a year.
Dish Network just raised rates this month. DirecTVs prices go up an average of 4.5 percent on Feb. 7. And CableOne? A call and email Friday to a Boise sales manager was not returned by press time. But you know whats always coming down the line eventually in the pay-TV world.
Its not necessarily the fault of the TV providers. The costs they pay for entertainment content on your zillion channels keeps skyrocketing. Nevertheless, strapped consumers just cant afford these bills.
You may have heard of people who cut the cord ditch satellite and cable TV entirely. Some turn to Internet streaming devices such as Roku and add streaming Netflix or Hulu Plus for a minimal monthly cost.
But Swann says the idea of cord cutting as a widespread phenomenon and serious threat to pay-TV is ludicrous.
Statistical surveys have shown it to be B.S., he adds. Were talking less than 1 percent of the nation if that.
(As a sports fan, I can tell you: Cord cutting definitely is not in my near future. Theres just no content.)
This year, Swann says, its more likely that increasing numbers of consumers will try to find ways to shave costs off their rising pay-TV bills.
People are going to look at their bill, scrutinize it very carefully and decide what they can do without, he says. And thats bad for premium movie channels.
Indeed. Im not sure Id want to be the suit running HBO or Showtime right now.
Do you really watch those channels for movies? Or are you hooked on one of their original series? If so, could you wait and watch Game of Thrones or Homeland when they come out on DVD or through whatever pipeline the next new technology brings?
These days, theres almost always another option.
If youre a pay-TV subscriber hoping to save a few bucks, that option might be the idea of considering a lower-cost introductory offer from a competitor.
Becoming a free agent, as Swann calls these consumers.
Theyre just getting better deals, he says. Theyre shopping around.
Or it could be as simple as making a 10-minute phone call to your current provider.
Either way, prices are going to keep heading up, up, up in 2013 and beyond.
Its a time to seriously evaluate your monthly bill and to decide what you really need and want, Swann says. Its a time to get on the phone with your TV provider and say, What can you do for me? Because Ive been doing a lot for you.
TONIGHT IN THE OTHER STUDIO
Tim Johnstone and I will spin new music from Mike Cooley, Jim James, Foals, Skrillex, The Joy Formidable, Camper Van Beethoven and more.
The Other Studio airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
IN SCENE FEB. 1
- A preview of whats to come in movie theaters in 2013.
- Sly Stallone is back on the big screen in Bullet to the Head.
- What does it mean to live in a creative community? Some of Boises most innovative thinkers will gather at the Esther Simplot center on First Thursday and address the issue.