Thanks to cord cutters like us, times are tough over at Comcast. The cable giant, like the rest of the major industry players, is having a tough time fending off cord cutting competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go. In response, Comcast is really marketing their “double play” packages, which combine Comcast internet plans with cable packages. Increasingly, Comcast is offering packages that include different numbers of channels. That's not a bad idea: after all, the inability to get channels la carte is one of the primary reasons people switch to cord cutting competitors. With these packages, Comcast is taking a step towards the la carte model, albeit with smaller package deals instead of individual channel subscriptions. Of course, that may not be the whole story – cynics point out that these smaller packages could keep Comcast's subscriber numbers artificially high. But we don't care about Comcast's motives; we care about ours. And our motivation is simple: we want the most content for the lowest price possible. With those priorities in mind, how does Comcast's service stack up? Let's take a look at a few packages. Note: these prices reflect what's available in my own local Comcast market. They may not be exactly the same everywhere, but they should give you a good idea of what Comcast generally charges. Take a look at the “A word about our methods” section down there at the bottom for more details. Digital Economy & Economy Plus Internet This is Comcast Xfinity's cheapest TV package, and it comes with 45 channels. But look at that internet speed: just 3 mbps! The best thing you can say about this deal is that it is a genuine month-to-month agreement. As we'll see with some of the more complex deals, that's a rarity. Starter XF Double Play For a big jump in price (all the way up to $89.99), we can now get 140 channels, including all of the major sports networks, which is nice. The big boost comes on the internet side, where we now have 50 mbps. But the problem with this one is that “for 12 months” stipulation on the pricing. The fine print reveals that we'll be paying full price for the Comcast service ($119.94 to $126.94, depending on where you live) plus an extra $19.99/month and $4.99/month if you want to keep HBO and Streampix, respectively. There is a version available without a 2-year agreement, but that will cost you $99.99/month instead. Starter XF Double Play Hey, it's the same package, but with more internet and a lower price tag! If there's one clue to the fact that Comcast's deals are too good to be true, it's their inconsistent pricing. Once again, you're looking at a price tag that goes up after 12 months. The fine print offers the same vague information (price varies by location!), but Comcast's 105 mbps internet is also available as a standalone service for $79.95 (starting price), so it seems reasonable to expect the internet portion of the bundle alone to cost at least that much after the price increase. With the charges for HBO and the increase to the cable price, the price for this one after 12 months promises to be nearly double the starting rate. Preferred XF Double Play Here's the package Comcast really wishes you'd buy. 220 glorious channels, all for the low, low price of $89.99. Of course, here we go again: after 12 months the service bumps up to $134.95 to 144.94, depending on your region. HBO starts to cost extra ($19.99), as does Streampix and the DVR. If you keep all the extras, your bill will roughly double to around $180. Comcast Internet Plans For comparison, here's a quick rundown of some different Comcast internet plans. We'll get into this a big more in a second, but the gist of it is that most of these prices aren't that much lower than the special deal prices for the cable plus internet deals: It's worth noting that Comcast internet prices don't seem to have the same price hikes as Comcast package prices do. Comcast internet speeds vary, but the two above are the only ones that are available in our area without having a Comcast voice or cable package. The “Economy Plus” Comcast internet deal (that's the 3 mbps one) costs $39.99, but is only available as an add-on to a voice or cable package. Conclusions Generally, these plans aren't a great deal. In every case but one, Comcast raises the price of the deal in the second year of your contract. Even the smallest TV package will cost you $30/month more than an internet-only deal. That's enough to pay for Netflix and HBO Go. And that lowest deal has 3 mbps internet, which Comcast describes as being “ideal for low usage on 1 device.” The 50 and 105 mbps deals look better at first: 50 mbps internet and 105 mbps internet cost $66.95 and $79.95, respectively, on their own. But the individual internet pricing remains constant, while the bundle deals skyrocket. What looks like $15 extra a month turns into $70/month more in the second year, or about $1,000 over the life of the two-year deal. There are areas in which Comcast offers a smaller 10-channel package; that package might be an understandable temptation in areas where over-the-air television isn't available (in this case, reattaching the cord would give you local news and NFL football without forcing you to shell out for more channels). But the options available in the area we looked at are just awful: the only partial cable packages are paired with painfully slow internet, and the larger ones come with massive price increases after year one. Comcast internet prices aren't great, but they're not nearly as bad as the fees for these package deals. A word about our methods Of course, we know that this piece isn't the authoritative account of Comcast Xfinity pricing. Comcast will only let you search for pricing after you create an account and log in. That's because their pricing varies based on your location. Even the types of packages that they offer aren't always consistent from spot to spot: for instance, we didn't see an option to get just 10 channels, which would have been intriguing as a substitute for an antenna in areas that don't have good over-the-air reception. As a result, these prices aren't something that you should use to guide your specific purchase decisions. This is just a gleefully unscientific little look at what it would look like to get Comcast where I currently live (the eastern edge Washington State). We're making a general statement here about plan prices, but this isn't intended to be a substitute for your own research. Be sure to check your local provider's prices carefully, and never skip the fine print: as we showed above, it can be the most important part of the deal. Class participation If you live in an area that's served by Comcast, we'd love to see what kind of offers you get! Check out prices for partial cable packages in your local area by logging on to Comcast's website. Write down the price or take a screenshot for us, and then post it in the comments! We're curious to see if Comcast offers better deals than this somewhere else in the country. For their sake, we sure hope so.