Do You Save by Bundling TV and Internet?

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Written by: Rochelle Burnside | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: May 18th, 2020

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“Would you like to learn more about how you can save when you bundle your services?”
 
You’ve heard this line a million times when you call customer support. But do you actually save money by bundling?
 
We’ve looked at bundles and standalone packages from some of the most popular TV and internet providers; we’ve also asked the experts about the pros and cons of bundling.
 
Here’s what we’ve found.

Bundles vs. singles: What's the better deal?

Companies wouldn’t convince you to bundle if the price tag weren’t cheaper — that’s obvious. But what about companies’ terms and conditions, promotional rates, and rate hikes after a predetermined period? Let’s see what you’d actually be paying with some of the most popular companies.

DIRECTV

Acquired by AT&T in 2015, DIRECTV can now bundle with AT&T internet and phone plans to power consumers’ electronics. Some experts have criticized AT&T’s move, calling it shortsightedness at the threshold of a streaming TV revolution. But some plans still have a huge draw, such as the NFL Sunday Ticket plan, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market NFL games.
 
In a quick side-by-side, the internet/TV bundles stack up well against standalone TV:

  TV TV+Internet
SELECT

155+ channels

$49.99 per month

155+ channels
Internet plans 768k to 100M
$79.98 per month
CHOICE

185+ channels

$59.99 per month

185+ Channels
Internet plans 768k to 100M
$89.98 per month
ULTIMATE

250+ channels

$74.99 per month

250+ channels
Internet plans 768k to 100M
$99.98 per month


The packages include internet plans 768k to 100M — a significant range. 768k is incredibly slow, while 100M is a suitable, baseline speed for most households. Still, some tech enthusiasts want Gigabit internet, 1,000 Mbps, to keep them up to speed.
 
What plan you’ll be offered could depend on where you live; rural areas typically have poorer connections. And high-speed AT&T internet isn’t available nationwide, so you might not have the option to bundle the fastest speeds.
 
The terms and conditions also mention a $10 per month internet equipment fee. And these prices are only locked in for 12 months on a 24-month contract. Here’s what those monthly rates look like for the last 12 months for your plan:

  TV TV+Internet
SELECT

$85 per month

$124.99 per month
CHOICE

$115 per month

$154.99 per month
ULTIMATE

$142 per month

$181.99 per month

DISH TV

DISH’s plans are harder to dig up online, as the company doesn’t list them on its website. Many of DISH’s landing pages want you to call in to request rates, but there are a few pages detailing TV options:

  TV
America's Top 120

190 channels
$59.99 per month

America's Top 120 Plus

190+ channels
$74.99 per month

America's Top 200

240+ channels
$84.99 per month

America's Top 250

290+ channels
$94.99 per month


For a package, the site mentions you can get internet bundled starting at $20 per month.
 
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Starting rates are always for the slowest plans, and they aren’t including device fees like the ones we saw for DIRECTV in these calculations. 
 
What perk is that DISH has a two-year price guarantee on most contracts.

Comcast Xfinity

Comcast has rebranded many of its options under the name Xfinity. Comcast was often ranked one of the most hated American companies in years past, so it was in the company’s best interest to rebrand.
 
Like its competitors, Xfinity TV and internet come bundled, but the company also has standalone internet plans we can compare. Here are some TV, TV+internet, and internet comparisons:

TV TV+Internet Internet

Extra
140+ channels

$49.99 per month

X1 Saver Pro+ Double Play
140+ channels

Internet up to 200 mbps
$69.99 per month

200 mbps


$49.99 per month

Preferred+
220+ channels


$59.99 per month

X1 Preferred Pro+ Double Play
220+ channels

Internet up to 600 mbps
$104.99 per month

600 mbps

 

$74.99 per month


Keep in mind that Xfinity has a variety of other bundling plans that vary internet download speeds, channel options, and price; these were simply the closest 1:1 comparisons.
 
If you want the cheapest plan, Choice TV Select Double Play, it’ll be $39.99 per month for download speeds up to 100 mbps and 10+ channels for one year. Honestly, many internet providers can’t give you a 100 mbps download speed for that price.
 
But read your terms and conditions: Xfinity mentions equipment and installation fees as well as a potential Broadcast TV Fee (up to $14.95 per month) or Regional Sports Fee (up to $8.75 per month).
 
The good news is Xfinity requires a 1-year contract for its 12-month price lock, shorter than a 24-month contract.

So, are you saving money with a bundle?

The average 100 mbps internet plan is going to cost you $50 per month. Based on that knowledge, a lot of these bundles are looking pretty good. 
 
We’re most concerned about the DIRECTV/AT&T bundles providing the speed a customer really needs for household internet activity in a package plan. For its prices, you should be receiving stellar internet.

Bundling pros and cons

You can add one big bullet point to the list of bundling pros: You save money. But you’ll also have to pull in more factors. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks from experts.

Pros

Everything rolled into one bill

You don’t have to work separately with a phone, TV, and internet provider. Operations at KWIC Internet Mark Rapley put it this way: “You only ever have one call to make if something isn’t working. You get all your services on one bill for easy record keeping and payments, and you will likely be left alone by your provider’s marketing efforts since you already subscribe to the full range of services.”

You might be able to cut a deal

With so many streaming services available, TV providers are feeling the heat. But streaming adds up quickly, and depending on what you watch, you might find working with a TV provider to be the better deal. If you go this route, Emily Woolworth, head of partnerships at Electrical.com, has this tip: “Use your negotiation skills. TV and internet providers know that they're facing fierce competition from unbundled offerings, and they are willing to cut deals to keep your business.”

Faster internet and more channels go hand in hand

If you’re maximizing your options, AT&T Expert Cara Fuller with All Home Connections notes one big perk: “Faster internet packages and TV packages with more channels are often grouped together. If you bundle with AT&T, for example, you also get the added benefit of one year of HBO and three months of premium channels like STARZ and EPIX, plus free installation.”

Cons

Unnecessary services

Do you need a TV plan? What about phone services? You only save on a bundle if you’re buying services you need and will use. 
 
Personal finance expert Lisa Bernardi explains the feature creep: “As a rule, bundles are only worth it if you already intended to purchase all the services included before the deal was on the table. Many consumers fall for the same trap: they sign up for a home internet plan for, say, $80 per month, and then see during the checkout process that they could add TV channels for just $20 more per month. Twenty dollars seems like a relatively insignificant amount compared to that original $80, but it's just a trick by the provider to get you to spend another $240 each year for a service you don't really need and might not even use.”

Less negotiating leverage

You might have hopped on the phone before and discussed your bill with a telecomms rep. If you played your cards right, you may have gotten a rate reduction. But if you’ve already bundled everything into this one provider’s service, you might have less negotiating power. Rapley warned us about this one: 

“Since you’re already subscribed to all services, your provider may not view you as a good opportunity and therefore may not pay much attention to you if you do need assistance or want to modify your services.”

Varying coverage

You’re usually locked in a contract when you bundle. And while it’s convenient to have one bill from one provider, that provider might not carry service through to another state. 

“If you move, be aware that not all internet service providers are available everywhere,” Fuller advises.

The Top Satellite TV Companies

company logo
#1 DIRECTV chevron_right
9.1 Overall Score
2.7
starstarstar_halfstar_borderstar_border
(1,048)
company logo
#2 Cox Cable chevron_right
8.6 Overall Score
3.7
starstarstarstar_halfstar_border
(79)
company logo
#3 DISH chevron_right
8.5 Overall Score
3
starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
(640)

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