Cable, satellite rates going up in 2018: Charter, Comcast, DirecTV

What you can do if your bill is up again

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and annual increases in your cable TV bill, according to a new report by USA Today.

And don't think you can just switch to satellite these days to avoid those rising cable prices, because those rates are going up too in 2018.

USA Today says Comcast's cable bills, for example, will go up 2.2 percent this year. Across cable companies, prices have increased 53 percent over the past 10 years.

According to another report in Variety, Comcast is hiking rates for most bundles $5 per month in 2018.

Variety says Charter is raising rates about 6 percent in some markets.

Switch to dish? Sure, that's an option, but AT&T's DirecTV is going up $5 to $8 for most customers this spring, Variety says.

Why continued rate hikes, year after year? Cable companies put most of the blame on soaring programming costs, especially live sports, such as the NFL and NBA, with their billion dollar contracts.
    
USA Today says the biggest winner from these rate hikes may not be the cable companies themselves (they continue to lose customers), but rather, professional athletes.

What can you do?

In the past, you could call your cable company and negotiate a lower rate package. That's not as simple anymore, as Charter no longer offers the same negotiable packages as Time Warner used to.  

But it is still worth a try, especially if you ask about downgrading to a plan with fewer channels.

You can also do what millions of viewers have done over the past 5 years: cut the cord, and go to internet streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Unfortunately, cutting the cord isn't as cheap as it used to be.

Want to just subscribe to internet? Cable companies now charge $60 or more a month for high speed internet, necessary to stream Hulu, Netflix and HBO as cleanly as possible. A cheaper plan may leave your video buffering.

So even cord cutters can pay $75 to $100 a month, which is less than a $150 cable bill, but certainly not cheap.

If you decide to stream, make sure you don't sign up for too many streaming services, because at $10 to $14 a month, they add up fast.

The only truly cheap TV service is an old fashioned antenna. You can read more about HD antennas in this report from Consumer Reports.

That way you don't waste your money.

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