The amount of television content available today is shocking when you consider that only a few options existed even two decades ago. The ability of networks and content providers to increase the rate at which they produce new shows and films and the Internet of Things have made the development and distribution of content easier than ever. So much content exists that it’s now impossible for a single viewer to watch everything released in a year.
And yet, service providers don’t always make it easy for subscribers to access the content they want to watch. In an attempt to force viewers into high-priced service plans, providers often separate popular channels into different tiers of service. Some channels aren’t ever offered standalone, which means that if you only want basic channels and a single non-basic network channel, you often have to upgrade to a complex tier of service to add it.
Thankfully, workarounds exist. Consider the following four ways you can get more channels without doing too much damage to your wallet:
Upgrade Your Service to Add Channels
Switch to HD Service
Although High Definition service usually costs more money, you receive the benefit of extra channels. Some of these channels are only available exclusively for HD service subscribers. If you’re a cord cutter and your family primarily watches content online, you’ve probably heard about how you can increase the number of channels you receive by investing in a digital antenna that picks up free digital broadcasts in your geographic area. You don’t need to settle for Standard Definition or even pay for HD television service beyond the cost of the antenna. You can find a wide range of antenna models designed specifically to pick up free HD channels.
Choose a Bundled Deal
If you can’t afford HD service or don’t own an HD television, you still have bundled deal options. In this scenario, you simply choose a tier or service bundle that features additional channels. For example, you might choose a tier bundle that offers a specific number and type of channels bundled together, such as a sports package with only sports channels or a movie package that increases the number of movie channels. Many people bundle services like phone and internet with television service to lower their overall pricing. What some consumers don’t realize is that they can add extra channels with this type of bundle in two ways: You might inform a sales rep that you would rather have extra channels then reduce your monthly bill and negotiate a deal or choose a preexisting bundle that offers additional channels.
Pick Extra Separate Channels
You can also upgrade without changing your existing package or bundle with à la carte options. For example, many cable providers allow subscribers to add one or more unbundled premium channels to their accounts. You can often find similar options when you want to add one or more sports, foreign/international or music channels. Non-cable service providers often offer pick-and-pay account setups via the internet that make it possible for you to pick and pay for only the channels you actually want to watch rather than make you select a channel package that might only have one or two that you like. You then download an app to your TV or use a special USB plugin or wireless device to connect to the service.
Demand an Extensive Review of Your Account
Look at New Provider-Based Deals
If you’re a loyal, long-time customer who has always paid your bills on time, you have options. Television service providers always offer brand new customers the best deals. That said, you might, for example, find out that one new customer deal is outrageously better than your current plan. It offers the same services that you’ve been paying perhaps three times as much for over the years and extra channels. Most companies will give you the deal if you simply express your dissatisfaction to a customer service or sales rep, point out how you’ve been an excellent customer and ask for the deal. TV service providers also partner with other companies to give consumers deals. You might get a better deal than the plan you have right now if you simply give the partner company your business via a service contract or product purchase.
Consider the Competition’s Offerings
You should never feel guilty for telling your current service provider that you’re thinking about switching to another company to get better pricing or more channels. This is especially true if you find that the competition’s regular pricing, beyond the promotional period for new customers, is actually better than what you’re paying at the moment. Most cable and other television service reps retain customers who are thinking about making a switch by matching competitor pricing and even offering freebies as an incentive to stay. For example, you might get six free months of a premium channel or HD service that includes extra channels for free when you negotiate to improve your current service by using a competitor’s promoted service plans as the starting point of the negotiation.
Check Out the Video on Demand Content
If you don’t want to change your existing cable or non-cable television service plan, you do still have options for seeing content from other channels. Many TV service providers offer the equivalent of on demand channels. They set up their VOD menus to display current and past shows and films currently available by channel name. They also often feature exclusive on demand content by channel. So, although the content is connected to the channels in your package, you can actually find shows and films that won’t ever air live or recorded on an actual channel outside of VOD, online stream or paid download. Many providers also promote certain channels to try to convince their customers to upgrade by offering special weekends or weeks of free content from various networks. You can find these bonus offerings by checking out your VOD menus at least once a week and subscribing to your provider’s e-newsletter.
Look for Online Options That Connect to Your TV
Beyond the online à la carte options mentioned earlier, you can also find a lot of other ways to watch the equivalent of traditional television networks from online sources. Most cable providers connect their service to the internet. If you have cable, you can usually access apps for popular online video channels like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by using the cable service main menu. Additionally, you can usually watch one of these channels for free for seven days or an entire month before officially subscribing to the service. If you’re on vacation or home sick, you can watch an extra free channel for a short period and pay nothing. If you can use your TV to switch to an internet browser or cast online content from your smartphone to your TV, then you can also watch free or extra paid content on the websites of most major TV networks.
As you add channels, keep in mind that you can control the number, type and quality of the channel selection even if your cable or other television service provider tries to dump on you a dozen or more channels that you would never watch as part of a package. Depending on how your provider offers service, you might be able to negotiate a deal where you receive a package customized almost entirely to your choices. Whether you’re a cable TV customer or cord cutter, you can also make deals directly with some networks and pay for individual channel subscriptions with content streaming over the internet. The sky’s the limit. In fact, you might discover even more options to add channels over the next year as interconnectivity between different devices increases and new technologies become available.