Cable Companies Explain How Price Increases Are Really Price Decreases

from the are-you-paying-attention? dept

Numbers are funny things. You can make them say just about anything that you want, as long as you position them correctly. For example, take the recent claims from the FCC that despite supposedly competitive conditions, cable rates have continued to increase. While we’re skeptical of the way the FCC computes its data normally, it’s even more amusing to see how the cable industry refutes the FCC’s claims. Broadband Reports points out that the official response is that cable rates have actually decreased if you look at it in price per channel. Yes, that’s right. All of those useless channels that you never watch that your cable provider has added to your channel list are decreasing your bill… if you were only smart enough to look at it on a cost per channel basis. So even if your overall bill keeps going up, you should be thankful because your cable provider is adding all sorts of channels that you probably don’t watch, which are reducing your per channel fee. Perhaps someone should calculate it on a cost per channel watched basis to figure out a more accurate number.

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Comments on “Cable Companies Explain How Price Increases Are Really Price Decreases”

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Bumbling old fool (profile) says:

I dont mind cost per channel

I dont mind cost per channel…

As long as I’m allowed to opt out fo the channels I don’t want (and recieve a reduced bill that reflects such).

Sadly, when I go to the grocery store, they continue to make be buy a whole shopping cart of vegetables and soup every time I need a gallon of milk. (thus reducing my cost per item)

Oh wait, nevermind, only the cable companies do that do me… Gee… thanks….

Cai says:

Re: I dont mind cost per channel

It doesn’t work for cost per channel.

you’ve got 50 channels – and you pay 39.95. (made up numbers.)

The ESPN block is probably a full 33% of that cost – if not more.

The cost of the other channels – probably those 5 that you watch (Discovery, History, MSNBC, MTV, Comedy Central are guilty of this) add up, together, another 50% of the cost.

So your other channels – those 40 channels that aren’t QCV sales stuff ( think WE, TNT, Cartoon Network, etc) make up a total of less than a quarter of your bill.

So choosing channel by channel may not end up being much cheaper, even if you are only picking 5 or so.

Tom says:


I’ve got dish network with everything but the sports packages. The first thing I did was lock out 3/4 of all the channels so they no longer show in any guide, any search, anywhere – because they are crap that you couldn’t pay me to watch and it’s annoying to wade thru them. The second thing I did was to make a favorites list with the twenty channels I watch semi-regularly (that includes locals). I only stray from the favorites when there’s nothing remotely interesting on and ninety percent of my viewing is on five channels.

Like the bumbling old fool, I wouldn’t mind the cost per channel if I only paid for the channels I watched. Otherwise, hell, why don’t they give us 3000 foreign language channels and raise our bills by a factor of four… our cost per channel would be much cheaper so it’d still be a deal… right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DishNetwork

All true very true. But the top 20 channels on any system are also quite likely the most expensive. I think people think their bill would decrease significantly if they could cherry pick. I think it wouldn’t change very much at all. And let’s not forget the media companies force certain combinations on you as well. It would probably be impossible to just subscribe to ESPN for example, without taking ESPNews and ESPN2 with it.

Xipx says:

Re: Re: LOL

Cable is a ripoff.
im a computer junkie, but if i paid “Per channel”…

it comes out to around 14.00 a month.

yeah, i only watch 4 channels. (Sci-ci, Comedy central, Cartoon network, and TBS)

thats it. if i could pay like 15 bones a month for those 4 channels id be in heaven rather than see my money dropped down the toilet for a bunch of useless commercial filled american dribble.

Witty Nickname says:

Many moons ago I worked in a call center for a cable company (not giving the name of the company). I always found it interesting that we had different rates in each market, in the markets where there was more than one cable company our prices were lower across the board. Where there was a local monopoly the company brass would talk to the city council and tell them how we are cutting them a deal and giving the consumers a bargain because we were the only company in town, and then we reminded them that if they allowed competition our rates would go up!

That is bull, if there was competition we would have had to compete. Prime example, the city of Chicago allows competition, go online and see what your cable company charges to provide service there and compare it to your ‘reduced’ local monoply fee.

For me it is satelite, DISH Network knows if they give me crappy service I can switch to Direct TV very easily, so there service and prices are exemplory.

Thomas says:

Re: Witty Nickname

That is exactly why I no longer have cable service.

Nearly 60 a month for 75 channels of which only 6 or seven are used on a frequent basis and three of those channels done’t even come in properly.

The kicker though is that one of those channels is a local station which comes in better over the air without an antenna in my basement.

So Directv for me. Even with a few optional extras and paying for a second receiver I am still going to be saving a couple bucks a month. Thanks Comcast.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not just the cable companies

As much as I would like to blame the cable company for forcing me to pay for the channels I don’t watch, thats not totally the truth. My current employer provides IPVideo services to our customers. We have customers complaining that we are charging them for channels that they do not wnt, same as I used to complain about TW. But I now see that a lot of this is the content providers. Recently we contracted to carry HGTV but the content provider forced us to pick up 3 other useless channels before they would give us the contract for the 1 channel we wanted to carry. In that case the contract even stated where in our lineup we had to include the 3 other channels, in this case they all had to be carried in the basic package, though HGTV ended up in our tier2 package. And they are not the only content providers that play the game that way.
The whole system is corrupt.

Sean says:

My cost per channel

At my reduced rate package (Comcast $99 for phone, internet, cable) I have this rate for another 10 months.

Cost per channel $33/234 channels = $0.141 per channel
(I included all channels including music/on demand/etc. because they would in showing how cheap it is) Regular cost = $0.235 per channel.

Cost per channel actually watched
$33/25 channels actually watched = $1.32 per channel

Comc@$$t says:

I Want Cheaper Cable!

I found this article intriguing, my wife and I are currently trying to find a cheaper route for Internet & Cable service, which my provider recently raised rates…

So I looked at the cost per channel ‘watched’ and for my Silver Plus package (minus the music an pay-per view stuff) is around 156 channels with HD/DVR and we pay $90/month. Here are the channels we watch:

NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, Sci-Fi, DIY, FOOD, Travel, Discovery, Bravo, FOX, FOX News, Spike TV, TLC, TNT, USA, MTV (Rarely…), CSN, TBS, History Channel, BBC America… 23 channels. I did not include HBO since it costs me an additional $11/mo. Let’s call it 30 cause you always channel surf when your bored!

My provider says I’m getting 156+ channels for around .60 per, when I stick primarily to under 30 channels which is more like $3/per. I think my cable service just took over the number 2 spot on the biggest rackets in the US… 1) College Textbooks 2) Cable Service 3) Cell phone Service

Someone Please do something about this!!!

Overcast says:

I think I watch maybe 6 channels and that’s about it. I could careless for most of the others.

Other than those 6 channels the only thing I like about Cable is the On-Demand.

But, alas in the end, I just don’t watch enough TV to make it worth my while. I can go to the local pawn shop or video store and either rent or buy movies.

The local pawn shop charges about 3 bucks a movie – at that rate, I can buy about 25 movie a month for what I was paying for cable – umm, that’s almost a movie a night – which is about 3 times what I watch anyway…

So mixing it up – I perhaps spend about the same on the Pawn Shop movies and Retail Used movies as I did cable, and I can keep them 🙂

Plus, I get the *advantage* of not enduring all the other garbage I have to flip past on cable.

Heck, if you do Netflix or one of the video store’s pay per month for all the movies you want, you really come out ahead anyway. Unless maybe you really like the sports or other shows, but I freakin’ hate sitcoms and that other ‘run every week’ crap.

Cable-less says:


Just cancelled with TWC, who took over our Adelphia system and immediately started playing games w/NFL network and Sinclair broadcasting while announcing a rate hike. It was one of the most pleasureable calls of my life, after hating Adelphia and its predecessor every time I wrote them a check.
Now getting internet from FiOS, faster and infinitely more reliable than the cable modem ever was, and my tv from DirecTV and an antenna. Over the air digital TV is nearly flawless, a claim Adelph / TWC / DirecTV cannot make. Analog picture is usually better than DirecTV’s local channels (which are heavily compressed) and much better than the cable. DirecTV’s compression is generally less obnoxious than digital cable’s.
Another TV competitor arrives later in the year when FiOS is sked’d to offer TV. Competition is good – wonder if the regime change in Warshington will help improve the internet competition in this country…

Randy says:

Re: Cable Rate

I’m dating myself here.. I dropped cable when they raised the rate for basic from 12.95/month to 16.95. I haven’t looked back. With Digital over the air, I am getting about what I used to get with the basic package except the picture is much better.

Local DTV now has a couple spanish stations and a 24 hour weather station just like the old cable.

Emilio says:

Ditch it

Cablevision end-of-6-month $17 price jack-up lead me to cancle my cable in August. Actually, the fact that I was only watching a dozen of the 180-odd channels I was paying for probably had just as much to do with it.

Switched to DSL, and to tell the truth, I really don’t miss cable. I get news off the web, Netflix for movies, the local tavern for football…

And it’s a strange weight that’s lifted when you stop exposing yourself to hour after hour of obnoxious commercials shouting at you. Try it, you’ll like it.

free at last says:

Let go - it will be better...

Axed Cable TV and Internet access 2 months ago. Immediatley noticed the following:
My 2 daughters actually look forward to Saturday Mornings.
They realized that the cartoons on PBS are better then the ones on the 18 “kids” channels cable offered.
They read more and have not once asked about Spongebob.
I read more books and watch more films.
My $24.95 DSL is just as good for surfing the net as my $45 Cable was.
My whole family spends more time together.
The $100 difference per month will help towards college for my better-read children.

Let it go… it is true… it’s a boob tube.

free at last says:

Let go - it will be better...

Axed Cable TV and Internet access 2 months ago. Immediatley noticed the following:
My 2 daughters actually look forward to Saturday Mornings.
They realized that the cartoons on PBS are better then the ones on the 18 “kids” channels cable offered.
They read more and have not once asked about Spongebob.
I read more books and watch more films.
My $24.95 DSL is just as good for surfing the net as my $45 Cable was.
My whole family spends more time together.
The $100 difference per month will help towards college for my better-read children.

Let it go… it is true… it’s a boob tube.

eveniftheyarefrench says:

The french have it right

They have ala’ carte tv/cable access.. You only pay for the channels you want. It may be true for parts of Canada as well… But here in the good ol’ USS of A the media companies and oil companies are in charge. Just remember Dems=Media lapdogs and Reps=oilbabies.

I have no hope that the US will do whats in its citizens best (not the corporate citizens) interest until there is a valid third party.

Mitch the bitch says:

Anytime the Government gets involved with anything it’s we the people that get fucked in the ass without vaseline…

It wasnt long ago that deregulation (Clinton admin) was the end all of high cable rates by creating competition. At the time I was paying $30/mo for basic cable. Now, 10 years later Im paying $65 for basic cable that includes more crap channels than I can count and NEVER watch. And yes we now have Dish, Directv and cable and they all charge outragoues prices in unison.

Competiton, sure whatever Bill…..

Another shining example of the democrats endless hypocrisy.


BikeRanger says:

Re: endless hypocrisy

Hey Mitch! Big Business Bush has had 6 years to regulate cable if he wanted to. Republicans ARE the party of regulations, after all — right?

Maybe the current administration is just too busy fighting high fuel prices and soaring health care costs to worry about how much you’re paying for Fox News.

rarestock says:

Cable justification

I do not justify having cable right now simply on a cost per channel basis. I figure what the cost is per channel that I watch versus the cost per channel that I would have and it’s completely unjustifiable. Most of the cable shows I’m missing are HBO or Showtime anyhow and it’s cheaper just to buy or rent the season than to pay for the cable to watch them.

I would however get cable if it were a pay per channel service. I wouldn’t even mind them jacking up the cost per channel. Make it 25 cents per channel, but you only get charged for the channels you want. I would actually feel like I’m getting what I paid for then. Until the day comes my bunny ears will work just fine along with my DVD player.

wolff000 says:

Pay For Cable?

I thought basic cable was free? It always has been for me :). Ok so I “steal” basic cable but I do pay too much for my cable modem so srew them. I have found most cable companies don’t block basic cable when you get your net connection from them. Just plug the coax into the TV and you probably have cable. In my city they also hardly ever turn cable off when someone moves. Most places I have moved into all ready had basic turned on from the last person or whoever. I have yet to have my free cable cut off and I have been using it for going on 4 years now in the same place. A friend who owns his house has had free cable for 7 years. So why pay for something you hardly use?

Rick says:


I’m so lucky. I never thought of it that way.

I suppose I’ll now figure my cost per channel and see the savings!

Let’s see – I have about 360 channels and I pay about $110 a month for the ‘cable’ part of my bill. That’s just under 31 cents per channel.

Now, since I only ‘watch’ about 20 actual chanells – eh, maybe 30 if I channel surf a lot – I should only need to pay for those channels.

I’ll pay my cable bill on time now and without a payday loan, since 30 channels is only going to run me $9.30 a month!

just me says:


I never could understand why cable is so much more expensive than satellite in my area. For your buck the satellite gives you more stations, and they are not loaded with info commercials like the cable companies are. I am not paying 56 dollars a month to watch info commercials. I don’t see how anyone else does it. Can they be so dumb? You are paying for a service, and you shouldn’t have to pay to watch those. I really wish that all info commercials were forced to one station. because many stations are getting lazy, and running these instead of real content. As far a prices. When I first got cable, I paid 42 dollars a month, They added stations but there was only one station in the whole bunch that was any good. The rest played reruns, and ran info commercials at night. They had 4 pay hikes in two years time. The cable bill went to 52 dollars a month for 47 stations. I am a night owl, all but twelve of those stations played info commercials at night. They can’t regulate what is played on these stations because of censorship being a no no. But cable is crap here. I will never get it again. I do not understand why cable can’t get it together, but satellite can, and they haven’t been providing the service as long as cable has. Neither do I understand why cable has all the rate hikes, and you still have nothing to watch. The only way you can get good stuff to watch at night is to pay for their premium content with their 100+ tv stations, and you still have to sort through all of the BS. By the time you sort through it all you have like 30 stations to watch out of the 100+. Something is wrong with this.

ghost says:

You just watch...

They will jack up the connect fee, and force users to take channels claiming they are bundled with the channel they are asking for. The channels everyone wants the most will cost out the butt for the pick and choose customers too. Hopefully the ones never picked, will have a change of heart when it comes to showing info commercials at night. So if we win anything, it will be better content on the channels that have been lacking. But having your say so on the channels sounds great.

jason says:


I just recently moved into a new place. My roommate and I have been discussing the different packages and I told her I would check it out on the internet. You know, compare some of the different competition to the highly used cable company around here, cox communications. Well Ive come up with one conclusion. They all blow donkey balls, and Im with Throbi on this one. Why don’t we all boycott the cable companies and find other constructive things to do! Find a hobby, get a workout bench, join a gym. Just find something else to do! Or you can sit on the coach for hours, and later, wonder why your ass has strangely gotten a lot bigger. Plus, I know you can find something to put that $80 to $110, you blow every month, towards. PEOPLE OF AMERICA, thats 1200+ a year, come on, do something else with your life. Youll feel a lot better about yourself. Trust me.

james nicol (user link) says:

why i cant get online any given time?

my husband is paying 55.00 a month for cable for my cp, also have the full phg which is over 100.00 a month. it hasnt worked any better then plai old msn which has been practily useless the past 6 mo! i seen on the news this past week that comcast is the largest cable co in the world! i may as well go back to the phone line as it hasnt been any better! never have seen the comcast site on my brand new hewlitt packard computer? thought things wd be better???????

chillwill says:

Here’s a tip to get the tv you want at a very reasonable price simply get the hi speed internet from cable join net flicks get a net fliks ready device like a xbox wii ps3 and for 8.99 a month you have thousands of movies tv shows and child programs etc. If there happens to be a movie not availble net flicks will send it to you in the mail. Then you can get the most basic cable avalible no box and save big you will have the high price cable package at steal of a price and with the xbox and ps3 its high def people jump on it this how you fight back against the gready cable companies

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