At the beginning of the year, most people usually comb through their expenditure list to see where to cut cost. An expense that may come to your mind is cable bill. After all, only a few bills can be as frustrating as Cable TV; cable companies hike their rates ever so often.
According to a report from Leichtman Research Group, an average cable TV subscriber shells out more than $100 each month. It is, therefore, understandable to see many customers cutting their cord to reduce expenses. But, if you cannot afford to miss your favorite shows, there are other ways you can get free cable or save money without breaking the law. Read on to find ways to cut cable expenses.
The Cable TV landscape is changing
With internet speed getting better each day, the traditional cable will soon become irrelevant. Initially, people had limited options for watching shows. Cable television was the main means of watching high-quality shows. But today, most networks such as ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and PBS avail most of their content online, so you can watch most of your favorite shows without paying high cable bills. Sometimes, all you need is to invest in reliable hardware.
1. HDTV Antenna
Antennas are becoming useful again. An increasing number of consumers are using digital antennas to boost broadcast signals. According to Parks Associates, 20% of U.S. broadband users were using antennas as at the end of 2017.
The antenna you want to invest in is HDTV antenna. Apart from producing superior broadcast signals, these antennas let you access several new local channels. The Federal Communications (FCC) has a map that can show you all the TV channels receivable in your location. If you live near a metropolis, you can receive signals from over one hundred channels.
Depending on your location, you may need to choose between these two types of HD antennas: Omni-directional and Directional.
As the name may suggest, directional antennas point to one direction. They are ideal for the following situations:
- When there is a clear connection between the cell tower and the antenna.
- When all reachable cell towers are from a particular direction.
- When the cell tower is located too far for a multi-directional antenna to intercept signals.
Unlike directional antennas, Omni-directional antennas can handle signals from all horizontal directions. They are the best bet when you are not sure about the direction of TV signals. They are costlier than directional antennas because they can retain satellite connectivity even when the signals are not steady.
Before buying your antennas, decide on the location you will mount the antenna. If you live in an area near cell towers or where it prohibits outdoor antenna installation, buy an indoor antenna. Outdoor antennas are ideal if you stay in a rural setting. They are usually mounted on rooftops.
Once you have connected the HD antenna, rescan your TV set for channels then change the source setting from cable to antenna. Even with the antenna, you will still require a steady internet connection. The FCC recommends an internet speed of at least 5 Mbps, but if you have other internet needs such as surfing the web or playing games, then you need at least 15 Mbps.
Apart from the antenna, another hardware consideration is the TV box, which will allow you to watch tv through apps. However, this depends on the service you choose and the TV you use. Smart TVs come with built-in apps, so you don’t need a box.
3. DVR Recording Device
Tivo Roamio has a device that integrates streaming, recording, and on-the-air (OTA) viewing into a single package. While the device is not cheap, it will eventually pay off when you to cut the cord. You can enjoy some of your favorite shows from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video.
Other Affordable Hardware Options
To access other options built into your Smart TV, consider upgrading to some of these affordable devices.
Roku comes with a user-friendly interface, smart capabilities, and plenty of awesome features. It allows you to access movies and shows from different cable channels and networks such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video for free. Most modern devices connect to your TV through HDMI, so if you have an older TV, you need a plug-in model.
Apple TV is a media device just like Roku, and it allows you to access content from Netflix, Hulu, and SlingTV. The device has apps from major networks such as NBC, FOX, Bravo, ABE, and E! among others. Besides this, it has several games for kids. If most of your content is stored in iTunes, this device will simplify how you access music, shows, and videos from your personal library.
Chromecast is a small media streaming device from Google. It works just like Roku and Apple TV. You can access multiple channels from Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play. With this device, you can even stream content to your TV straight from your Chrome browser.
Amazon Fire TV
Just like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV lets you access content from different networks and streaming services. On top of this, it also allows you to access a wide selection of games. The device has voice search capability for you to search movies and shows. With an Amazon Fire TV, you can watch Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Video. It is also a good option for streaming music. If you have subscribed to Direct TV Now, you can connect to your Amazon Fire TV to access premium channels.
Stream Cable TV Online for Free
Besides using hardware to access premium content, you can also access the same shows on the web for free. The only requirement is an internet connection. Companies are offering high speed internet in my area at a steep discount these days. So hopefully that's the case for you too. Here are quality options to access TV shows.
This website allows you to access TV programs for free. It is a cool option for following the latest news and favorite shows. The site has a community of TV geeks who provide valuable support regularly. You can share with fellow members your favorite shows.
Classic Television Online
Another way to access TV programs online free is through the Classic Television Online website. If you are a fan of television classics, the site has a comprehensive collection of vintage shows ranging from prime-time specials to late night discussions.
Major television networks such as ABC, FOX, E!, NBS, and NBC upload their TV programs on their websites. While you may not access the programs live, most of them upload their content the same day they air, so you keep tabs on your favorite programs. You can also access episodes from past seasons while you are waiting for the latest episode to be uploaded.
YouTube is not only the largest online video platform, but it is also one of the newest TV streaming providers. Through YouTube TV, you can access live programming from the many networks it currently partners with. So far, YouTube TV has over 60 networks making it a good cable TV alternative.
Another alternative you can consider is Facebook Watch. Just like YouTube, Facebook has been pushing for its version of TV-like shows. It streams short-form shows from several partner networks such as A+E Networks, Quartz, BuzzFeed, and other nextgen media networks. Facebook has plans to build the largest collections of cable-access shows.
Share Content Streaming Service Account
Another savvy way to lower the cost of accessing premium content is to share the password for streaming service accounts with your family and friends. This way, you will only pay for one account then spread the cost among yourself. There is no clear-cut explanation if the practice is considered ‘privacy’, so some people are already using the trick.
Affordable Video Streaming Subscription Service
If you don’t want to let it go your favorite shows, consider switching to an affordable provider or switching to a lower-tier package then supplement the channels with streaming service. Some service providers offer basic cable packages if you bundle with internet service.
For instance, AT&T provides free HBO if you choose its unlimited data plan. If you have not subscribed to its TV services Direct TV Now or Direct TV, you will get free streaming accounts as a bonus. Likewise, T-Mobile offers free Netflix Standard subscription if you purchase its unlimited data plan. Besides the two, Sprint also offers free Hulu limited streaming service when you buy its unlimited plans while Verizon has included Netflix in its landline service.
You can also find free or affordable packages offered by the video streaming service platforms. Here are popular options you can choose from.
This platform offers several movies and TV shows for free. The content streamed through the platform contains ads, which can be annoying. But, since the service is free, you have nothing to complain about.
With a Hulu subscription, you can access both prime-time and cable networks. You will stream shows from E!, MTV, Comedy Central, and the CW. Since Hulu is part of 21st Century Fox, NBC, and Disney, you can access several prime-time programming.
With a basic Netflix subscription, you can access several shows and movies. Netflix has some of the most popular TV series today. The platform also streams content from other TV networks.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Video allows you to buy or rent movies and TV shows at a small charge. Expect to spend about $2 – $4 per TV episode. Current episodes may cost slightly higher than this. If you have Amazon Prime subscription, you already have access to most of the content.
SlingTV gives you access to over 150 channels. With a SlingTV subscription, you will watch broadcasted shows live including news and sports. The only challenge is that it only offers broadcast programs rather than on demand.
This service allows you to not only buy your favorite music but also rent and buy your favorite TV shows.
The service gives you access to shows and movies distributed through HBO network. For $14.99, you can watch current and past shows without having to go through a cable provider.
Call and Negotiate for a Discount
Most subscribers assume that, like any utility bill, if the cable bill reads $150, that is the end of the story. There is always a way to counter. If you feel what you currently paying for cable TV is too high, consider calling your current provider and negotiate a better rate. However, you have to be strategic in the way you negotiate cable prices because cable providers may use several tricks to convince you to pay for their services at your current rate. Here is the strategy.
1. Know the lowest offer on the market
Without research, it is hard to know if you are getting the best deal. The best way to approach this is to use a competitor’s deal as a bargaining base. Pick one of the competitor flyers and call your provider. When calling, try to be friendly and open about your concern about high cable fees. Tell them what the competitor is offering you and ask them if they can match the offer because you are already contemplating switching to the competitor. Don’t lose your cool; just leave the ball in their court. Since most companies will not want to see you leave, they will consider matching the offer.
Alternatively, call your cable provider to check the discounts they are offering new customers. If what they offer is better than what you are getting, consider negotiating to match what they are offering to new members or discontinue your subscription then sign up as a new subscriber.
2. Ask to be connected to the cancellation department
The best deals come from people working in cancelation or retention departments. If you are unsuccessful in convincing them to lower your current rate, the next step is to make a cancellation request. The staff in customer service or billing departments may not have the permission to give discounts, so ask to speak to the person responsible for cancelations.
In most companies, cancelations are handled by in-house staff, so they are likely to give you a better deal. You shouldn’t rush to cancel the offer if the first call doesn’t get you a better rate. Be persistent. Sometimes, you may need to make three to five calls to get to somebody willing to negotiate with you.
3. Cancel the subscription then wait for a response from the company
If calling and negotiating don’t yield results, consider dropping the cable altogether. This should be your last option. In most cases, companies will call back immediately after the cancellation with a better incentive.
As you already now know, there are several ways to cut the cord or lower your cable cost. Any of the above ways provide cost-saving advantages while allowing you to legally watching your favorite TV shows. The best method you choose will depend on your budget, location, and personal preference.
General Cable TV Questions
This section covers the general questions you have about how cable bills work. Use this section to get a better understanding of cable bills.
How to Avoid Cable Bills?
The best way to avoid cable bills is by not signing up for cable. You can get a digital antenna for a one-time cost. That will give you access to local broadcast and public access channels for free.
Is a Cable Bill a Utility Bill?
Not usually. Cable is considered a luxury service instead of a basic need like water and power. Therefore, it isn’t considered a utility bill by the federal government.
Why Does My Cable Bill Keep Increasing?
There are two likely reasons your cable bill keeps increasing. You could be using more data and paying for data overages, or you could have had promotional offers on channels that have expired.
How Much Is Cable Bill?
In the US the average cable bill is around $100, however this changes wildly depending on the cable package and subscriptions that you have.
What Is a Franchise Fee on My Cable Bill?
A franchise fee is a fee that local government charge cable companies for using public property to transmit their cable television signals. It can also be called a regulatory fee.
What Happens if You Stop Paying Your Cable Bill?
If you stop paying your cable bill then your service will be disconnected. Your cable provider will also likely send you to collections and charge you for any equipment you still have that they own.
What Is the Average Monthly Cable Bill?
The average monthly cable bill in America is around $100. Of that $100, almost $20 of it goes to pay for sports networks.
Does Your Cable Bill Affect Your Credit Score?
It can. It all depends on whether or not your cable company reports payments to the major credit reporting agencies. You’ll need to check with your cable provider to see if they report.
Does Having a Cable Bill Build Credit?
Sometimes. Anything can build credit if the company getting paid reports the payments to the major credit reporting agencies. Your specific cable provider can tell you if they report or not.
Getting Free Cable TV
Lots of people want to get free cable TV. We’ll do our best to help you legally get as much free cable TV as possible. You should be wary of sites that offer to tell you how to get free cable TV, as lots of them suggest methods that are illegal and can result in fines and jail time.
How to Get Free Cable TV Legally?
It can be difficult to get free cable TV legally. Your best bet is to hope that you live within broadcast range of your cable company. The federal government ruled that the airwaves these companies use are public property. That means certain antenna can pick up some free cable TV channels.
How to Get Free Premium Cable Channels?
Looking for promotional offers from different cable TV providers is the best way to get free premium cable TV channels. Companies will usually offer a year of premium networks for free to get you to sign up.
How to Get Free Cable TV with Antenna?
You can get free cable TV with an antenna if you live within broadcast range of a transmission station. This is because the federal government ruled that the airwaves companies use to send their signals are public properties, so they can’t scramble the broadcasts on those airwaves.
How to Get Free Cable TV from Comcast?
Comcast offers select streaming services for people that already pay for their internet through Comcast. Just log into your Comcast account to see what free streaming options are available for you.
How to Get Free Cable Channels on Your TV?
You can get free cable channels on your TV by getting a streaming device like a Roku or Firestick. These devices have apps that will offer many of the same cable channels you enjoy through a cable TV service.
How to Get Free Cable TV with Cable Internet?
Promotional offers are your best bet to get free cable TV with your cable internet. See if your internet service provider offers a deal where you get free or discounted cable service if you add it to your internet package.
How to Get Basic Cable for Free?
A digital antenna is the best way to get basic cable for free. Cable companies are required to provide local broadcast stations, PBS, and public access for free to anyone with an antenna that can receive them. We talk about how to get free money in another article.
How to Get Free Cable After Being Disconnected?
There aren’t many legal ways to get free cable after you’ve been disconnected. We recommend that you invest in a digital antenna, which you can buy for as little as $20 and will get you many of your favorite channels for free.
How to Get Free Cable in Apartment?
Finding an apartment that includes cable in the rent is the best way to get free cable in an apartment. Absent that, you can use a digital antenna or different streaming services to access free cable channels.
How to Get Free Cable on Firestick?
Sling TV is the best service to get free cable on your Firestick. You’ll get free broadcasts from some of the most popular channels in the country for 7 days with Sling. You can also try Philo, which also offers a free trial and lets you stream to up to 3 devices.
How to Get Free Local Cable Channels?
A digital antenna is the best way to get free local cable channels. Cable companies are required to provide local broadcast stations like CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC, PBS, and local access for free on these devices.
How to Get Free Cable on Your Smart TV?
You can use different Smart TV apps to get free cable on your Smart TV. You just need to find an app that offers free streaming services on the app store for your particular model of television.
How to Watch Free Cable TV on Android?
You can use the Sling TV app to watch cable TV on Android devices. The service will use data and your options might be limited in either time and/or number.
How to Install Free Cable on XBMC?
You can get free cable on XBMC by getting a digital antenna and connecting it to your media center computer. This will transmit local broadcast signals into a streaming source through XBMC.
How to Get Free Cable TV on Your PC?
You can stream cable channels you subscribe to if you log into your account with your cable provider. You can also get promotional offers from services like Sling TV to get limited free cable access.
How to Get Free Cable Online?
You can get free cable online if you have cable service to your house. You’ll just need to log in to your account to access streaming versions of the channels you subscribe to. In the meantime you could using a streaming service for cheap and even use an Amazon Prime Discount to save on costs.
How to Get Free Cable from Direct TV?
There’s no way to get free cable from Direct TV. In fact, the company has been stepping up prosecution of people hacking their boxes. Instead, you can use a digital antenna to get local broadcast stations, PBS, and public access for free.
How to Watch Free Cable on Roku?
The best way to get free cable TV on Roku is to use promotional offers from companies like Sling TV to get access to cable channels. These will only work for a limited time or may work forever but only be in standard definition.
How to Get Free Cable on Your Phone?
You can get free cable on your phone by logging into your cable account or downloading your cable company’s app. Most cable companies allow free streaming of the services you pay for at home if you’re logged in. Just make sure you have truly unlimited data on your phone's plan to support this streaming. I also found a place to sell my phone near me when I got rid of my old phone after upgrading.
How to Get Free Cable or Satellite TV?
The only way to get free cable TV is to live near a broadcast area. The government ruled that the airwaves used to broadcast are public property. You can buy a special antenna that allows you to pick up these signals, but it’s very hard to do.
How to Get Free Basic Cable from Time Warner?
The only free basic cable you can get from Time Warner is in the form of promotional packages. You can get free local broadcast networks and public access channels by buying a digital antenna though.
Can Seniors Get Free Cable TV?
There’s no nation-wide program for seniors to get free cable TV. Your particular cable company might have a program to offer reduced or even free packages to seniors though.
Lowering Cable Bill
Cable can get expensive. This section will answer your questions about how to reduce your cable bill so you can save more money every month and really boost your budget.
How to Lower Cable Bill?
The best way to lower your cable bill is to review it and decide what services you really need. You can find other ways of accessing some content by using streaming apps for much less than you pay for cable.
How to Cut Cable Bill?
Reducing the number of services and channels you get from your cable provider is the best way to lower your bill. Many people are going down to basic cable and using streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to get the content they want as a way to save money.
How to Negotiate Cable Bill with Comcast?
There are several ways to negotiate your Comcast cable bill, depending on your situation. You can point to your record of on-time payments. You can also point out the offers their competitors have and threaten to switch service providers if they won’t match the other rate.
How to Lower Cable Bill with Spectrum?
The best way to lower your Spectrum cable bill is to look for premium network packages that you got for free for a limited time when you signed up. These premium networks can cost a lot of money and add a lot to a cable bill.
How to Lower Cable Bill with Time Warner?
Lowering the internet speed you’re getting is a good way to lower your Time Warner cable bill. Most people don’t need the maximum speed options unless they’re doing a lot of HD gaming and streaming. Even then, a mid-level internet speed should be fine.
How to Lower My Cable Bill with Optimum?
Lowering your cable bill with Optimum is best done by seeing if they have any promotions to prevent you from switching to one of their competitors. Many cable companies will lower your bill or give you free packages to keep your business.
How to Lower Your Charter Cable Bill?
You can lower your Charter cable bill by reducing the number of networks you’re subscribed to. Many people get free channels when they first sign up, but those free channels cost money after a promotional period. Getting rid of them can save a lot on your bill.
How Can I Lower My Cox Cable Bill?
Consider lowering the internet speed that comes with your subscription. Most people don’t need the gigabit or 300Mpbs speeds that Cox offers as their top-range internet speed. It’s likely you won’t notice any difference in your browsing.
How to Lower Cable Bill with AT&T?
Selecting a cheaper package is a good way of lowering your AT&T bill. You should also make sure that promotional offers haven’t expired and are causing your bill to be higher than it should be.
How to Cut Cable Bill in Half?
Cutting your cable bill in half is hard, but it can be done. You’ll need to reduce the size of your cable package and internet speeds. This means you’ll get less channels, but you’ll also have a much lower bill.
How to Save on Cable and Internet Bill?
Calling customer support and asking for promotional offers to be reapplied to your account is a good way to get cheap WiFi and cable. Many companies will do this if the alternative is losing your business to a competitor. Alternatively cell phone companies these days are offering wifi hotspot devices unlimited data included. So that's yet another way to get your internet cheap and then you can watch movies and shows on your laptop connected to this.
Paying Cable TV Bill
Cable companies are good at making easy things seem hard. This section answers your questions about paying your cable bill for different companies.
Where Can I Pay My Cable Bill Near Me?
Usually the best place to pay your cable bill near you is at a local retail store for your cable provider. For example, if you have AT&T, then any AT&T store should be able to accept your cable bill payment.
Where Can I Pay My Buckeye Cable Bill?
You can pay your Buckeye cable bill by logging into your account online. You can even set up auto-pay from your account. You can also use their store locator to find a place to pay in person.
Where Can I Pay My Bright House Cable Bill?
Bright House is now Spectrum. You can pay your cable bill online through Spectrum’s customer portal. You can also go to a local Spectrum store to pay your bill in person.
Where Can I Pay Time Warner Cable Bill in Person?
Time Warner Cable is now called Spectrum. You can pay your bill in person at any Spectrum store in your area.
Can I Pay My Cable Bill with a Credit Card?
That depends on your cable company. Each company has different rules regarding what type of payment methods they’ll accept. Check with your cable provider for more information.
Other Cable Bill Questions
There are some questions that don’t fit neatly into our other categories. We’ll cover those questions here.
How to Get Free Internet with a Cable Modem?
Simply having a cable modem doesn’t ensure you can get free internet. However, you can sign up for a discount internet service and get them to waive the hardware fee, as you already have the modem.
Are Cable Companies Required to Provide Local Channels for Free?
Yes, cable companies are required to offer basic broadcast channels like NVC, ABC, CBS< FOX, PBS, and public access channels for free.
How to Get Free Cable Internet Service?
The best way to get free cable internet services is to look for programs in your area that offer high-speed internet to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. These programs are increasingly popular and many states and localities have them.