(NC) Score the best deals and channels to watch your favourite shows, sports and movies by doing a little bit of homework. Here are five tips to help you through the process:

1. Figure out your household needs and budget. Determine how much you want to pay every month and decide which shows and channels are must-haves, which you can find online for free, and which would be nice to have but aren’t necessary. For example, do you really need Space year-round, or only for when Orphan Black airs? Or do you need HBO only when the next season of Game of Thrones starts? Same goes for seasonal sports. Check out the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s online checklist for extra help.

2. Do your homework. Dig up one of your bills and your contract, if any, and make sure you’re familiar with your current service and the terms. Go online and read about the deals your service provider offers to new customers. Find other providers in your area and compare their deals with those offered by your provider – you might find you already have a good deal, but you could reconsider these tips in about six months.

3. Book some time to make a phone call with your provider. Make sure you have more than 5 minutes to spare. These types of calls can take a while, so set aside enough time and make sure you won’t be bothered or distracted during the call.

4. Make the call and start negotiating. Speak with confidence, but stay polite. Show the rep that you did your homework and that you know about their deals. Demand better — ask about special promotions or discounts and compare them with other providers’ deals. Reminding them of your loyalty can help. If you’re still not satisfied, ask to speak to a supervisor.

5. Bring out your last resort. If you’re not satisfied with what the supervisor has to offer, tell them you’re ready to switch to another provider to get a better deal. Be ready to make the move for real.

Bonus tip: Repeat these steps once or twice a year to make sure you always have the best possible deal. Promotions may only be available at specific times of the month, season or year. You may need to try calling at different times.

Find more information at www.crtc.gc.ca/tv-choices.