Cheap TV service providers
Research the possible options. There are various options available to consumers, depending on what you're after by way of basics, bundles and advanced uses. Knowing what options are out there can help steer your decision as to exactly what will meet your needs.
- For example, in the United States, cable providers are required to offer a “basic cable option” that includes broadcast channels, local-access channels, and government and public-service channels. These packages are subject to government price control and are often available for under $20 per month. However, they are often not mentioned on the provider's website. The next step up is “expanded basic” or “standard, ” which costs more per month but offers a wider range of channels. These are generally shown as the cheapest package available on the provider's site, even though a cheaper option exists.
- Note that some providers may offer a small number of cable channels as part of their basic package.
- Packages will vary depending on which country or region you're living in. While it's not possible to cover them in this short article, it is important that you read the fine print, as well as checking what your government communications agency sets out as the basic requirements for cable provision where you live. Your awareness of what is mandated by consumer or communications laws will help you ask the right questions to get the best deal.
Decide what level of coverage you want. If you want the cheapest possible package, you will certainly want to choose the “basic” package. If you want a larger number of channels for a relatively small monthly price, you may want to look into a “standard” package.
- When choosing, be specific in the needs that you and your family or household has. For example, perhaps you all like sport but not arts, or you all like arts but not sport. It's a no-brainer to go for the package that favors what everyone likes the most. It gets trickier when some of the household prefers sport, and some arts, etc. In this case, you'll all need to reach compromises to keep down the costs.
- Remember how many hours there are in a day. You can't spend them all watching TV. Having access to many channels doesn't necessarily equate to having the time spare to make use of the choice!
- Don't forget the possibility of borrowing, hiring or buying DVD sets from the library, video store or retailers for shows you like. If there is only one or two shows you like on some extra cost channels, it might be cheaper to forgo watching them now and wait for the DVD to come out instead. Or, watch the show online rather than purchasing extra channels you rarely watch.
- Read the fine print on making changes to your package. If you sign up for 24 months to a set of kids' channels and your kid turns teen and never watches them again for 18 months, be sure you can opt out of paying for those now-unwatched channels. Either that, or look ahead and don't sign up for channels where householder interest may wane over time.
Choosing a Local Provider
- Find a cable provider in your area. Not all cable providers are available everywhere. Find a provider that operates in your area first. You can do this by doing an Internet search such as “cable provider + [your zip/postal code]”. If you find that the provider isn't offering as good a deal as ones you've researched online, this will be a time of negotiation, in which you can point out what you'd like and what is offered elsewhere.
- Call your cable provider. Remember that providers are not required to advertise the “basic” package in the United States, and so most list only the “standard” and higher packages on their websites. That means, if you want the cheapest package, you will need to call and discuss your desired package in person, rather than purchase online. Any special tweaks needed to be made to your package will have to be done over the phone, or in person, where possible.
- Ask for the “basic” package. The operator may try to sell you the “expanded basic” or “standard” package when you ask for “basic.” Politely insist that you want the most basic package, not the standard package. If pressured, remind the operator that you know the company is required to sell it to you. If they're particularly insistent, simply tell them it's all you can afford and it's that or nothing (most salespeople want something over nothing).
- Ask about pricing and available channels. If you have favorite channels you're hoping to get, be sure to clarify the availability with your package, as you may or may not be able to get cable channels such as ESPN.
Comparing Cable TV Providers
- If you decide that you want more channels than those offered by the “basic” package, you can search online for the cheapest deals in the “standard” tier. An Internet search for “cheap cable” will bring up many websites that allow you to compare all of the different packages offered by cable providers in your area. Type in your zip code and research the different options available to you. Perhaps draw up a chart to compare the pricing and which channels and features you get for the money; doing this will help you to quickly visualize which provider is offering you the best deal for your money.
- Be wary of deals that may offer a low monthly rate for a limited period of time, only to increase the price after that period ends.
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- Do I need to have internet access to use a Roku?
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- Keep in mind that if you do not like any options, you can always call and ask for the basic package. In some cases, this may be the best way to start anyway, to see if you like what you get for the basic level or if it means you're missing out. In many cases, you may simply decide that it's sufficient for your needs and busy life, coupled with DVDs and online viewing, as you're left with plenty of hours to do much more interesting things and not feel tied to watching TV because you're paying so much for it!
- Always read the fine print and ask plenty of questions. Getting locked into long-term cable TV deals can turn out to be a loss for you if your viewing habits change or if you'd rather have some other deal.
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