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February 23, 2022

Your HD bill is probably killing you

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

If you’re like me, the first whiff you got of in-home HD TV was the last straw for you and your standard definition television. For people who never aspired to watch HD or go out of their way to experience the difference, you likely couldn’t care less about the fuss and hype surrounding the service. You can watch re-runs of Quincy M.E. and Jack Klugman will look just as unappealing on your 32-inch Magnavox as he will on a Samsung plasma.

But for the rest of us, once you’ve gone HD, you can’t go back. And your bill is probably roughing you up each month as a result.

There’s a few tips for trimming your monthly cable bill floating around on the web, but are they any good?

(Note: It’s worth disclosing than even the most basic HD package is going to run you at least $50 a month, and we mean basic. It’s easy to get lured in by the Future Shop/Best Buy ‘Free HD for six months’ promo they offer when you buy a new flat panel, though trust us, that runs out …

... Many monthly packages creep their way up and over the $100 mark and that’s still not outrageous by comparison. If you want an HD digital recorder as well, toss in a few extra bucks on top. Most HD subscribers concede this is ludicrous money to be paying for TV in an economic crunch but, hey, see paragraph two.)

The majority of tips to cut your cable bill suggest trimming yourself back to the leanest of packages and compensate by streaming your favourite shows online. Let’s forget for a minute that if you’re a sports fan, this already won’t work for you -- there’s nowhere reliable to stream live major sports on the Internet for free. The problem with streaming your shows online in Canada is that many of the big network sites won’t work if you’re logging on from north of the border. Even Hulu, a YouTube-like video site which carries NBC programming and a lot of vintage TV, isn’t available for Canadians just yet. There are a few shows we can see on the CTV and Global websites, but that’s about it.

What’s worse, it’s no secret that most cable subscribers aren’t ready to start ditching their service in lieu of online streaming, and the cable companies know this. In fact, as our own Deirdre McMurdy writes, cable prices are likely on the rise after regulation changes in the last federal budget. The Bells and the Rogers’ are the ones holding the cards here, not us.

So what do you do when you want to watch HD? You pay through the nose, and you’re probably not alone.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...