A Guide to Cable for Seniors
Adults 75 and older watch more television than any other age group. Some good-quality programming is all it takes to improve their mood and help them stay connected with what’s happening around the world. But such services, often priced around $100 per month, are also can be prohibitively expensive.
Luckily, cable TV providers are now offering affordable cable plans starting as low as $20 per month. If you are considering getting a cable TV connection, this guide will walk you through the many offerings available in the market. We’ll also review the installation process and explore why bundled offers can be a great option for those looking to save. First, however, let’s take a step back in time and see where cable began.
Brief History of Cable
It all started in 1948 when the first cable services began to broadcast TV channels in Oregon, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania. This invention was a byproduct of efforts to bring OTA television signals to remote areas. Then, in 1960, all major U.S metropolitan areas gained access to these services. By 1970, the first premium network, Home Box Office (HBO), was launched. Then, between 1996 and 2002, a lot of investment went into growing cable residential broadband services.
Ultimately, in October 2010, all these efforts led to the golden age of cable TV. That’s when 90 percent of TV households in the USA were pay-TV subscribers. And each network’s content offering grew in terms of award-winning scripted and non-scripted entertainment shows. Today, several cable networks such as Xfinity and Spectrum have their own video streaming services with unique digital content that older adults (or anyone, really) can enjoy, even from their laptop or smartphone.
What Modern Cable Can Offer
Most cable TV operators offer a wide range of live, sports, and on-demand channels. In addition, there are rental plans that let you stream your favorite apps (Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, etc.) to the TV, without having to worry about cable wires and outlets. Many of these plans also offer music streaming and radio stations. Such plans come with a wireless receiver and remote. And all you need is a reliable Internet connection.
After cutting the cord, older adults might find it difficult to get used to a new digital TV interface. What helps is that top brands such as Cox and Xfinity have voice remotes that let you search through the apps and play the content of your choice with voice commands. It also does away with the hassle of small buttons on the remote. This is especially great for older adults who start to experience a decline in fine motor skills.
Best Cable Companies for Seniors
What is it that makes a cable TV operator’s offering well-suited to older adults? It needs to have the right mix of content and affordability. Though there aren’t many operators who offer discounts and special packages for older adults, you will find that being specific about your needs and budget can help you locate the most cost-effective plans. Here are some of the top cable companies that would be able to deliver services to meet your expectations:
Older adults can enjoy 75+ channels at an affordable $25 per month, with Cox – the third-largest cable provider in the nation. This plan also comes with 50+ music channels and access to the content on your mobile app even before installation. You could also opt for Cox’s complete care package (extra $10 per month) that offers technical support, troubleshooting, and resolution of issues with your TV services. Even bothersome wiring issues will be taken care of, if you choose this add-on feature. But, remember, subscription to Cox’s service may require credit approval, a security deposit, and a one-time activation charge. So, choose Cox’s services only after you have thoroughly researched its coverage in your neighborhood, and once you are certain that its services are what you need.
With Xfinity, the largest cable TV company in the USA, you can choose between two cable plan types: Flex and X1. The former comes with 10,000+ free shows and movies, a 4K streaming device, a voice remote, and open access to Peacock Premium. Meanwhile, X1 packages will get you all that and access to live networks (ABC, NBC, and Fox), Cloud DVR service, and Sports Zone app. If you are on a tight budget and use the TV sparingly, choose the service provider’s basic plan that features 10+ channels at a rental cost of just $25 per month.
Spectrum, the second-largest cable operator in the United States by subscribers, makes it very clear that it doesn’t believe in long-term binding contracts. Hence, all its cable plans can be canceled at any time without worrying about termination fees. For older adults on a budget, there is the Spectrum TV Select plan at $49.99 per month that offers 125+ channels with free HD. Then there are silver (175+ channels) and gold (200+ channels) packages at the cost of $69.99 and $89.99 per month, respectively. Remember though; these introductory rates are only valid for the first year, so be sure to include the hike in prices into your calculations if you plan to stay with the provider for long.
Top Tip: If you’re looking to save money and don’t require live television channels, I would recommend that you ditch traditional cable TV offerings and go for streaming services such as Xfinity’s Flex TV and Cox’s Contour Stream Player.
Do you feel like you are overpaying for your cable TV services? It might be because you have not gotten in touch with your cable company’s customer care team to find out about the latest deals. To reduce the amount of leg-work, here is a list of some of the most reasonably priced TV plans by operators of repute:
Basic Cable Plans Comparison
|Cox’s TV Starter||Spectrum TV Select||Xfinity Basic|
|No Long-Term Contract||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Monthly Cost||$25||$44.99 (for the first year)||$20|
Did You Know: Stuck in a contract with your operator? Brands like Spectrum are willing to help by buying out your contract, making it easier to switch.
To Bundle or Not To Bundle
With a fixed income or pension, it would be best for you to look for plans that are easy on the wallet. If you are keen on saving money, one of the best ways to achieve this is bundling. Most brands offer hefty discounts to subscribers who choose more than one offering. For instance, instead of renting separate Internet ($49.99 per month), landline ($9.99 per month), and TV ($44.99 per month) plans, choose Spectrum Triple Play bundle and save $8 per month on the same set of services.
I’m sure you can imagine that this can add up to a lot in a year or more. Similarly, choosing Xfinity’s TV channels with the Internet, landline, and home security services will get you discounts up to $60. On the other hand, if you are not a big TV watcher and just want the bare minimum, then you can stick to single product starter packs such as Spectrum TV Select and Cox’s TV Starter.
After you order your new cable service, you’ll need to install the equipment that comes with the plan. The good news is that most of the popular brands now offer doorstep delivery of a self-install kit for free. This kit will include all the equipment you need and an easy to follow setup guide. In case you still find yourself struggling to install and set up the service, you can schedule a technician visit. While Cox charges up to $75 for professional installation, it costs upwards of $49.99 with Spectrum and around $70 with Xfinity. These may be a little expensive but will guarantee peace of mind for older adults who can’t wait to get started with their new cable plan!
Cable packages for older adults could range from $20 to upwards of $50 per month. The more premium channels and receivers you add on, the greater the bill. While most companies do not advertise special discounts to older adults on cable TV services, by shopping around, you can get some great deals. Alternatively, you can pick up the phone and call a company’s customer service line. Just by asking, you’ll likely end up with freebies, upgrades, or credits on your bill. You could also save a few more bucks per month by choosing options like auto-pay and paperless billing.
If you are looking for a reliable, feature-rich provider, then Xfinity Basic is a good bet. And if you want more for less, try out Cox’s TV Starter pack of 70+ channels at just $25 per month. Finally, get 125+ channels that deliver popular movies, sports and news, go with Spectrum TV Select at just $44.99 per month. There’s truly something out there for any TV appetite.
Cable Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I save the most money on my TV plan?
The best way to scrimp on cable TV rates is to look for the basic or starter package offered by your local service providers. Also, try and reduce the number of premium channels and extra equipment that you decide to rent. Finally, if you need more than one service, it really helps to look for deeply-discounted bundled offers.
- Should I choose a contract-free plan?
If you value flexibility over savings, then opt for a plan without contracts, such as Cox’s TV Starter or Xfinity Basic. A contract-free plan is perfect if you are unsure about the plan or provider and would like to try it out without any long-term commitment.
- Is it hard to set-up cable TV on my own?
These days, setting up cable has become easier than ever. Most cable providers send across self-install packs with detailed instructions on how to set up your connection. If you still need help, you could always pay for professional installation.
- Will I need extra equipment with the cable plan?
You will technically need to rent out a set-top box along with your cable plan, which will come with a remote control to help you navigate through the many channels. In case you have also rented out a streaming service, make sure to have a broadband connection handy.