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There’s no question that a lot of people are choosing to cut back on cable to save money. Those same households who are getting rid of cable tend to still want TV entertainment in some form, and have signed on for services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and even Sling TV to get plenty of high-quality TV for a lesser price. Instead of offering better options for the cable users everywhere in the hopes that they’ll stick around, cable companies are doing the opposite. Reports indicate that cable bills on average have gone up or are going up at rapid rates.
In 2015, for the first time Time Warner Cable opted to add a surcharge to users who had signed on for sports packages, noting the bills in those households would go up $2.75. DirectTV and Dish Network’s also saw increases in 2015 for overall cable bills, and Leightman Research Group recently released a report that notes cable bills across the board are going to increase again in 2016. All of this is happening while major cable services are losing subscribers, with about 190,000 subscribers to the top 13 cable providers leaving in the final quarter of 2015.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a ton of subscribers, but when you consider that around that many, if not more, are fleeing the cable price model every quarter, it becomes clear that cable has a problem on its hands. You would think that cable companies would want to do at least one of several things, including creating better and more enticing internet packages for users and creating more exciting at-home cable packages for the subscribers who are sticking around with the basic model. In reality, they are doing neither.
In the United States, the average household with a basic cable package is spending $64.41, according to a survey from the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent report, which came out a couple of years ago. That report also notes that cable bills have increased around 6% per year since 1995. In addition, Comcast recently added bandwidth caps and overage charges for those who use a lot of the internet—often because they are streaming content or gaming or more. So, now a lot of people are paying more for less internet use than they’ve had prior.
Basically, it’s a mess and it’s going to continue to be a mess until the major cable companies pull their respective heads way out of their asses and realize that the name of the game is changing. We are right now living in an era where information and entertainment is right at our fingertips. There is more TV content being created than ever before and it’s being made for a wide variety of audiences, who have different tastes, outlooks and even incomes. Eventually, the TV business will work itself out, but in the meantime, let’s hope they do so in a way that continues to lead to a variety of choices for TV viewers. It's in everyone's best interests for cable companies to get their act together so that a wide variety of content can still be produced on cable, network and subscription cable channels. Honestly, though, there doesn’t currently look to be a super happy ending on the way.