Admitting you pay a monthly cable bill these days is like handing out the number to a land line or offering to lend someone a VHS tape.
Ever since video streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video became ubiquitous, the technorati have declared it passe to give the likes of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or any other cable companies Comcast is constantly trying to buy a monthly pittance in order to maintain your position of couch potatohood.
It’s gotten to the point that every time a cable conglomerate cashes in a monthly autopay, a hipster’s horn-rimmed glasses shatter.
But there’s a secret kept by those who rushed to tell cable companies, as well as their satellite competitors, to stick their cords where the sun don’t shine: They sorta miss the services provided by their price-gouging corporate overlords.
With more and more major sporting events ditching over-the-air TV for cable companies, cord-cutting fans are basically forced to hit up sports bars for their needs.
While apps such as ESPN Go have made it easier to catch live sports on the go, they require pay TV provider sign-ins to access them. You’re thus stuck with using your parents’ account, buddying up with a friend and splitting the bill, or just staring blankly at your computer screen as you obsessively watch game tracker updates like it’s 1998.
The gang of HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax aren’t kind about lending out their original programming options out to streaming services. Joined at the hip with pay TV providers, they insist on propping up the ancient model of shelling out a monthly fee for a selection of channels selected by cable or satellite providers.
While HBO has softened a bit by lending out its old stuff to Amazon, you still won’t catch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones unless you dawn an eye patch and take to a torrent site. That or head to a friend’s house every week, living in fear that if you bring an unsatisfactory dish to the potluck you won’t be invited back the next week to find out the latest doings of Daenerys.
One nasty side effect of cord-cutting is that the discount price of high-speed internet service you bundled with your cable bill will suddenly pop up like a pimple on prom day.
An increase of, say $20 on your internet bill eats significantly into the $60 or so you may be saving by ditching cable. The solution is to pay the minimum cable bill and use the sign-in to access the array of apps. Or, at least, get your parents do the same.
If you do decided to keep your cord intact, that doesn’t mean you have to let the company you’re dealing with dictate the terms of your relationship. Shy away from contract commitments, demand promotional prices and negotiate fiercely when those promo periods expire.
And in addition to getting the company to trim your bill, ask for free or discounted access to a premium channel.
The key to living with yourself as a loyal cable customer is to keep the company in fear that you can turn cord-cutter at any moment. It’s Jedi-mind stuff, and it works just as well in our day as it did for Princess Leia, when she made sure to pay as little as possible to the hologram service to have her video meant for Obi-Wan installed in R2-D2.
Someday maybe cable companies will break their stranglehold on entertainment and offer up channels a la carte. Until then, you’ve got to play the game the way the current rules dictate.
Help us, cord keepers. You’re our only hope.