Here’s a great New Year’s resolution for you: Stop donating money to cable companies. Because I promise you, their resolution is to take more money from you.
Cable will keep downloading increased piles of money from lazy consumers this year, but there’s good news: Its stranglehold is starting to slip on the rest of us. More on that in a moment. First, let’s talk about higher fees.
Word spread during the break that Comcast is raising cable leasing fees from $8 to $10. The rate increase had already hit some regions of the country as early as September, but now it seems to be national. Maybe that helps explain why Comcast seems so eager to send unwanted modems to people, like the one that arrived in my mail box last month.
That $10 monthly fee makes the cost of purchasing a modem — about $70 — look pretty cheap. You should do that, this week. All you have to do is look at Comcast’s site to make sure your modem is compatible with your service, buy a box from Amazon or someplace similar, call Comcast to register the serial number, and return your leased box. Yes, yes, I know that seems like a lot of work for $2. But you’ll be saving $50 this year ($120 in fees minus the $70 cost). Think of it as having a free nice dinner on Comcast. And who wouldn’t want that?
You can see a list of Comcast-ready modems on the firm’s website.
And in case you think I’m picking on Comcast, I’m not. Time Warner has already announced it is increased box leasing fees this year. For good measure, it’s also adding a new sports surcharge, and raising its network TV surcharge.
Add up those fees, and a new limited-channel, Internet-only offer from Dish called Sling TV that costs $20 for ESPN and CNN starts to sound pretty appetizing. The package, which can be viewed on a TV with the right equipment, was revealed Monday at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas. In fact, cutting the cord on Pay TV altogether is sounding more appetizing all the time. Combine Sling TV with the recent announcement from HBO that it would provide stand-alone subscriptions, and you can see why cable companies are on the run.
Word to the wise: Nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal. Don’t be a victim of cable’s angry backlash. Start planning your exit strategy — HDTV antenna…Netflix…making friends with your local bartender’s TV remote — now.