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In the last decade, Americans have seen their television rates skyrocket. I’ve personally been on the other end of the phone working for the big broadcasters, stumbling to justify outrageous prices to customers. I received countless feedback from customers–average Americans–that their bill used to be much lower. These people weren’t just whining; they were speaking fact.
As covered by Fortune, Time Warner, another large player, announced an increase last year.
And as covered by Forbes, DirecTV announced an increase for the year of 2015.
Even without the hard data, most Americans know that their rates have gone up, simply by studying their bank account or bill.
Phone, internet, and TV services are considered by many to be a utility. I don’t know the legal procedures and oversight involved in implementing rate increases in this industry, but I do know that electric utility companies, in many jurisdictions, have to appeal their case to a committee and get approval.
If television used to be so much cheaper, then what happened? These large programming providers and broadcasters have not satisfactorily convinced the public of their plight. How is it that after listening to their self-pitying spiel over and over, that they are the ones deserving of sympathy? They continue to make billions while the consumers continue to see their rates increase.
Yet these conglomerates with all of their wealth have been buying up each other for billions. ATT recently moved to buy Time Warner for $80 billion, and ATT successfully acquired DirecTV a few years ago for $40 billion. Comcast attempted to buy Time Warner for $45 billion in 2014, but was unsuccessful. Comcast, however did successfully acquire NBC universal.
These large, long-reigning, multi-billion dollar media conglomerates and telecommunications companies are mostly associated with what’s called the legacy network. The legacy network is dominated by the old big players and an antiquated system of subscription and distribution. It makes up most of the mainstream or establishment media that the American public has been used to, or forced to swallow, for decades.
Despite their overwhelming control, the dominance and, indeed, the relevance of these networks has been declining for some time. Their time has come due. As was seen with the recent 2016 election, social media and other forms of alternative media rose to the fore. This symbolized not only that the public was no longer attracted to the mainstream media narratives, but the research over the past years has also indicated as much. Please read view my previous article to understand the current disdain for the establishment media.
New internet-based services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Fire Stick, and Roku TV are taking over. The prices are much much better and the legacy way of package-based pricing cannot compete. The biggest flaw, or shall I say, “ripoff” of legacy programming is that consumers are forced to pay for hundreds of channels they do not want or even watch. Consumers are not allowed to pick and choose and what channels they want. This allows legacy companies charge way-higher-than-necessary rates for packages filled with hundreds of channels. They pass themselves off as offering a package to fit everyone, but the fact is, the packages are designed so that no one is satisfied with the lowest tier package that contains nothing but local channels and infomercials. The package paradigm is nothing but a tease for squeezing more money out of the average consumer or family. In case you didn’t know, all of the channels available are continuously sent to your receiver. After receiving the channels, receivers have an access card that, then, filters out what channels you’re able to access. This is how consumers are gamed into a package-based subscription system and coerced into paying higher prices for the few channels they do want. These companies have done their research, and they know what channels are most popular and what the average family wants to see. This knowledge is deliberately used against consumers to coerce consumers into paying more than necessary for what they want.
Before, Americans didn’t have much of a choice. Granted, currently in rural areas where satellite TV is the only option and broadband internet is not available, many still find themselves unable to escape this grip. But the playing field has changed. Of course, this development didn’t go unchallenged by the status quo. When SOPA was introduced to Congress, it would have allowed internet providers to surcharge consumers for streaming alternative television services like Netflix and Hulu. It’s worth pointing out that these corporations are among the wealthy corporations and shadow government getting their way through our beloved government.
The alternative platforms available are ripe for the taking. They showcase how programming should work in a modern setting. There is no more paying for what you don’t want to pay for. The bills are no longer excessively high. There are no pricing gimmicks like we’ve become so familiar with in past. Some families spend hundreds per month to these companies for television and other services combined, and have done so for too long.