Here’s the Internet/cable TV ad they ought to run (video)

If only this wasn’t so true. The Internet and cable TV game is rigged in the US, and it’s consumers who lose.

The political class makes out okay because of the big dollars handed out every campaign season. As for the rest of us, we pay far more for cable TV, Internet, phone and cell service in the US than they pay in Europe, for example. Here in France, the phone, TV and Internet package starts at around 30 euros, or $36 – and the speeds are generally faster than you’ll get as a standard package in most US cities (though, admittedly, customer service tends to be non-existent over here).

John was just telling me that in Washington, DC, he pays $180/month for basic Internet and basic cable TV, has to pay extra for HD (which is hardly some new-fangled technology at this point), and his package doesn’t include any premium movie channels at all. $180, that’s insane.

Thanks, Congress!

FYI – there’s small amount of language in the video.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • http://www.saltlakecitystudio.com/ Salt Lake City Studio

    I wrote this article that weighs the pros and cons of cable TV and internet TV. A good option upon examination of the pros and cons would be to choose high speed internet connection over cable and just watch internet TV. Just my two cents on the matter.

  • lilyannerose

    I’m not making any excuse for the cost of cable, however, you can’t just blame the cable companies without taking a look at how much the networks are charging especially for sports.

  • Clecinosu

    Either one is fine. The entire “Now” interview should be a wake-up call for consumers.

  • http://profiles.google.com/macbill Bill MacKay

    It helps if you are not a sports fan – like me – I do the same as magster above. It’s all crap, and cable crap is no better than over-the-air crap + internet TV crap

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-L-Greenlee/1269130691 James L. Greenlee

    Lily Tomlin as Ernestine! Loved it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-L-Greenlee/1269130691 James L. Greenlee

    I forgot to say that I’m in Las Vegas, and have Cox Cable. To their credit, Cox is very responsive and flexible to the point of changing things immediately when asked. They’re too pricey and too rigid in how they group their services though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-L-Greenlee/1269130691 James L. Greenlee

    Mine has crept up past $200 for my supposedly discounted “bundle.” My internet is great, my phone is redundant, and the cable is LOADED with channels I don’t watch. I’ve tried several times to pare down, while keeping those things I like (DVR, HBO, HD, Showtime), but trimming one thing would remove something I want. I can’t eliminate sports, religion, multi-language channels, easily dozens of channels, because they slot them in the same tiers as the ones I like. It’s very frustrating. And the only option (besides just giving it all up) is a two-year contract with a satellite service that would be cobbled with different companies providing phone and internet. CenturyLink Prism–an offering by the phone company–sounds very attractive, but despite blanket marketing in my neighborhood, we can’t get it!

    What amazes me is that I’m not even close to “maxed out.” I only have one cable box/DVR, not the whole house. I don’t have all of the premium channels. I don’t have all the tiers. And I don’t have the fastest internet, or top end phone service. What in the world is the monthly ceiling on a cable bill? It’s got to approach $300 a month, if not more. Crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/SugaPea Suga Pea

    Sorry…this is the one I meant to post:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d082E9gPjk

  • judybrowni

    Time Warner refused to tell me about their lowest cost option, until I called to cancel — so I opted out of their service entirely.

    I share internet service with apartment neighbors (I now pay $10 a month), and get all my cable shows and TV shows, streaming.

    Screw you Time Warner and that $115 bill a month!

  • http://twitter.com/SugaPea Suga Pea

    Very few people in the US realize how Cable companies are absolutely screwing us!
    Check out this Bill Moyer’s interview.:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6XIj9oRDD0

  • Clecinosu

    And being quite honest, customer service is practically non-existent here, too. Especially if your service comes from Time Warner.

  • jomicur

    Simple solution: do without cable. I spent some time as a member of Pittsburgh’s cable commission, and what I learned about the way the cable companies do business convinced me never to give them another dollar. I had been rankling at the high and ever-increasing prices anyway; kerning that cable companies are very bit as corrupt as any corporation in America clinched it for me. I cancelled my cable as soon as my tenure was up and, except for an occasional movie, I’ve NEVER missed it.

  • ComradeRutherford

    This reminds me of the Saturday Night Live bit from the 1970s when the telephone company was still one huge nationwide monopoly:

    “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

  • trinu

    You’re wrong. We don’t pay more for the same service. We pay more for inferior service.

  • lynchie

    I have Windstream and pay $75 for supposedly 15mb but I never get more than 5mb. I called numerous times, they said it was my server which is the one they provided, then it was my wireless which they provide and now they have no answers. No one else is in the area and your right to do anything on Verizon 3G i would have to take out a bank loan every month.

  • Naja pallida

    Not just Congress. They pay off local politicians too, to maintain monopolies in areas… and actually get tax breaks and other business incentives, like low-interest loans, for doing so. Here, Time Warner owns pretty much every single bit of line. There are ostensibly other companies you can get service from, but they invariably have to lease their lines from Time Warner. A couple years ago AT&T finally invested rather heavily in upgrading their fiber network, but instead of pricing their service competitively, they matched Time Warner’s prices exactly. People were so disappointed with Time Warner’s shitty monopoly, that they were happy jump ship the first chance they got at any hope of something even slightly better. And even though they supposedly compete now, prices haven’t gone down. They’ve actually gone up.

  • BosGuy

    I saw this last week and have it loaded on my blog to post later this week. I thought it was hilarious and spot on. These guys deserve all the attention they are getting for producing this clip. I love it.

  • jenius

    Using the Beast to kill the Beast.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Ayup. Pretty much how it is, and worse with the usual ‘American Exceptionalist’ attitudes, most people have NO idea how much we’re all being ripped off, relative to other countries.

    Our local DSL provider keeps trying to sell us 20MB service, even though the local technician (with whom we’ve become friendly because he’s had to come out to FIX our crappy 1.5MB service several times now) has said the equipment just doesn’t exist yet and there appears to be no plans in the work to upgrade anything anytime soon. He’s really ticked because CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) keeps selling upgrade and he keeps telling them to just frickin’ quit doing it because it just wastes his time and annoys the customers who can’t get what isn’t possible. (Meanwhile, it tells me that if they think 20MB is already here, they won’t ever actually upgrade it. Welcome to Harry Tuttle’s world…)

    There is no cable around here, period. Supposedly we could install Hughes for satellite — and deal with crappy speeds AND a data cap. Or Verizon 3G for somewhat better speeds, but again a cap that essentially means if you use the line for anything other than browsing and email (i.e., actually try to stream some videos or download a sizable PC game), we’d be charged hundreds of bucks for the overage. Not that the service itself is competitively priced either.

    Anyway, come Monday we’re going to see if we can switch to a WAN WiFi provider who says they can give us 10MB for $70/mo, and the transmission antenna is only a couple miles from our house. Far from ideal, and still ridiculously expensive for what’s being offered, but it’s hard to do much of anything on this lousy slow DSL.

  • http://americablog.com magster

    Forgot to mention that an HDMI cable between the TV and your laptop is essential.

  • http://americablog.com magster

    I use a good old fashioned antenna that receives an HD signal for all the broadcast TV channels (and each channel has sub channels replaying local news and weather, old reruns of classic TV series, and some old movies). A lot of the cable channels have free content of their hit shows, and Amazon and Netflix help fill in the gaps for the rest that you pay a la carte for. The thing that sucks the most is as a sports’ fan, you have to access some sketchy live streaming sites at times, but it’s doable. Our family has probably saved $1500 since cutting the cord 2 years ago.

  • teddy

    How totally true this video is. I pay $90 each month for 10GB of “high speed” data for my smartphone. $30 of that is for the privilege of being able to tether my phone to my laptop. The video stopped six times while playing.

  • lynchie

    Another example of what paying off Congress and the WH does. They pay the bloodsuckers and then increase billing for us. Like gas and oil, etc., etc. We are so far down the food chain I surprised they don’t just feed us shit sandwiches. My daughter lives outside Paris and raves about the price for cell phone, internet and cable. As far as no customer service have you tried to get help here in the States. It is all outsourced and after talking to 3 or 4 people who speak broken english you just say fuck it and hang up. They know you have no where else to go.

  • condew

    So realistic I expected to see Verizon’s logo.

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