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Is Now the Time to Get Rid of Cable TV?

With one daughter headed to college and another just a few years away, Ron Baslow, a single dad, was looking for ways to economize. One easy target: his $125 monthly bill for cable TV, internet, and phone service.

Like many of those who responded to the latest Consumer Reports Annual Questionnaire on telecom services, Baslow didn’t think his bundle provided great value.

“I never used the phone and only watched a few of the dozens of cable channels I was getting in the package,” he says. Baslow downsized to an antenna for free local broadcasts and got a promotional $20-per-month internet rate, good for one year. He’s planning to add a $20-per-month subscription to Sling TV, an online service that offers access to cable channels he likes, including CNN and ESPN.

The result will be annual savings of more than $1,000—and no sacrifice in the TV content he wants.

Highlights From Our Telecom Survey

In Consumer Reports’ latest telecom survey, almost all the companies, including Comcast and Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable), two of the country’s largest cable operators, earned low scores in multiple categories, including value and customer service.

The latest ratings are based on responses from more than 210,000 Consumer Reports subscribers who responded to the telecom section of our Fall Questionnaire. We asked them to report on their experience with home internet, pay TV, and bundles of those services.

Many of the best-known cable companies didn’t fare well, but there were a few bright spots, including a municipal broadband service run as a public utility in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the fiber service run by Google in a handful of markets across the country. These innovative options outpaced conventional telecommunications companies when it came to value.

Two smaller cable companies, Armstrong and Consolidated Communications, also did better than most. Armstrong operates in several states, including Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West…

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