March 3, 2009

HDTV and Cox

What is HD worth?  If you are a Cox customer in Phoenix it depends on what services you already get though Cox.  If you go to the Cox website you see that “With Cox, HD is free”.

But then you find out the “free” part is just the stations that you could get for free anyway if you set up an antenna.  To get the other stations (Discovery, TNT, ESPN, etc, not to mention HBO and the “pay channels”) you have to have a “minimum service level” of Cox Digital (the most expensive plan) *AND* you have to rent a Cox HD cable box . . . it’s easy to figure out . . . just read all about it on the “Cable Packages” page at http://www.cox.com/arizona/cable_tiers.asp.

So, if you just have regular cable . . . the basics . . . no cable box, just enough so you don’t have to use bunny ears the costs to get HD adds up fast.   For me I have to pay $12/month to rent an HD cable box so I can get all the HD channels.  I already have a regular cable box I could trade in so that’s *only* $6/month.   But it’s too much . . . and it’s certainly not FREE!

I happen to have the most expensive “Cable Package” (Digital Cable – see the link above) just to have HBO.  Most of what we watch is from network TV and HBO along with some throw away home improvement shows from HGTV and the like.  If I didn’t love HBO I would have the “Expanded Cable” plan at best.  Sure, the cost to get “Digital Cable” over “Expanded Cable” is only $5/month but it’s for channels I don’t want.  So, that means to get HBO I have to pay for HBO ($14/month) AND I have to pay $5/month for “Digital Cable” (which on your bill is the “Digital Gateway Service”).

Anyway, the point here is the prices don’t seem fair.  When will we get a la carte pricing?  When will there be true competition in this marketplace (Dish and DirectTV are not competition!)?

Sheldon