Figuring out the actual monthly cost of a cable TV subscription can be complicated, with all the taxes, fees, equipment charges and other options that can be added in. With providers such as Time Warner Cable, the primary cost still centers around the cost of the programming package selected. Though the decision involves more than simply choosing basic/standard or digital cable, these two options form the base upon which the subscription is built, along with the different prices that accompany them.
With Time Warner, what used to be simply known as Basic Cable can no longer be narrowed down to just a single package at a single price. Though the exact number of channels, specific channels included and price of the package can vary by location, packages start at Limited Basic, which contains only local, educational and government channels. To that, you can add the standard basic service, which comes with a larger monthly fee. In other areas, Time Warner offers a basic package known as "TV Essentials," which includes all local channels and a dozen major cable networks.
Though prices may be different in each individual market or region, costs for limited basic cable are $20 or under in certain areas at the time of publication, with the expanded basic service being added for around $50. The TV Essentials package also comes with a roughly $50 monthly fee, with reduced rates for the first year of service that also vary by location. One other potential cost savings with basic service is that a set-top receiver box is not required for cable-ready TVs, as it normally is with digital cable.
Digital cable service from Time Warner also can not be narrowed down to a single package at a single price. Digital service generally starts with adding the basic digital tier to the full basic cable package, with additional tiers added at the request of the subscriber. These tiers also vary by location and can include tiers for HD, family, Latino and sports channels, as well as premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz. At the time of publication, the basic digital service will add roughly $10 to the cost of the full basic package, with additional tiers costing between $3 and $7 a month, and premium channels priced at $13 a month.
In addition to the channels and tiers of the selected programming package, other monthly fees are often included with the typical Time Warner digital cable subscription. Most common is the set-top receiver box/DVR and remote control, though a CableCARD can be used instead with a capable digital cable-ready TV for a lesser fee. As another consideration, digital cable service can be bundled with Time Warner's high-speed Internet and/or digital phone service to create a price savings for the TV service, which is not an option with the basic cable package.
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