When I was a kid playing Monopoly was one of my favorite board games. It was fun to try to dominate the competition. The cable companies apparently paid close attention. Many people feel the American economy relies so much on the tenet of fair market competition. I share that view. So I have great difficulty understanding how today cable company monopolies are able to exist so unabashedly.
Take for instance where I live in Connecticut. As on much of Long Island, Cablevision is the ONLY provider of cable television service. In most of the area there is absolutely no competition for cable. True you can sign up for Dish network, DirecTV, or even Verizon FIOS but when it comes to cable – it’s a one trick pony. We happen to also get our internet connection (lightning fast BTW) as well as our telephone from Cablevision using their ‘Triple Play’ offer. For the most part it has worked out well.
Yet this year at New Year’s a bitter dispute with HGTV, and Food Network just to name a few had people aggravated since the threat was to have those channels pulled from the cable system. Up until this past Sunday (Halloween) for the past nearly three weeks Fox and Cablevision were locked in a bitter war of words that finally was settled. While providers like Dish Network, and DirecTV offered to help you switch my sense is that for most people this was not their desired path or they would been with those satellite networks already. Cablevision came up with a lame offer to its subscribers over the weekend to have them go online and ‘buy’ Major League Baseball (mlb.com) over the internet and then they would be reimbursed for the $ 10.00 so people could watch the World Series. I’d love to see the number of people who actually took them up on that one.
This week we opened our New York City office. It’s all very exciting but the excitement was tempered a bit when we considered that in order to have internet service in the building the ONLY provider is Time-Warner. And our friends told us that the internet service is often spotty and slow and the customer service from Time Warner cable not much better. That bore out right away when Time Warner failed to show for the appointment on Monday. They claimed to have been there but we had someone in the space all day. With no options we have to just grin (or grimace more like it) and bear it.
Having an option of an entirely different service is better than no option at all but having only one choice of cable providers does not motivate providers or serve customers well at all. Government broadcast licenses play a big role here as does lobbying but as usual it’s the consumer who gets the shaft.
We can gripe about it but that’s about all we can do.
Got any novel ideas on how to get around the cable monopoly game?