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Comcast Admits There’s Cord-Cutting; Why That’s Good For Comcast

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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says cord-cutting is “happening. We’ve seen it coming.”Samsung UN55KU6600 Curved 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2016 Model)
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In an interview with Bloomberg TV that aired last night, the cable chief doesn’t expand on the topic, but his blunt acknowledgment that some consumers are dropping their pay TV service because it’s too expensive is still somewhat rare in the industry. Some pay TV executives tend to dismiss cord-cutting as a trend, adding that most consumers still prefer large programming bundles that offer a variety of channels.

Roberts, however, notes in the interview that consumer unrest with cable and satellite services has risen because “television used to be free and now most Americans are paying a lot of money for it and every year it can get more expensive.”

The Roberts comments in the Bloomberg show was first reported by Bob Fernandez of

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Comcast is the only one of the top four pay TV operators to manage to avoid what has been dubbed a first quarter bloodbath; the nation’s largest cable operator added 42,000 net video subscribers in the time period. It also has now gained more than 200,000 video subscribers in the last five quarters while many of its rivals have lost customers.

While video defections still remain relatively small — pay TV services still have more than 100 million homes and less than five million video subscribers have left in the last few years — the losses are a growing concern in the industry.

Roberts’ admission that some consumers are cutting the cord while others may be dissatisfied with the rising cost of pay TV likely sheds some light on how Comcast has been able to reverse the industry trend and keep customers on board.

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There’s an old saying that it’s easier to keep an existing customer than attract a new one. And Comcast has taken that adage to the bank by offering creative bundles to persuade existing customers from leaving.

For instance, the cable operator peppers Internet-only customers with phone calls, e-mails and other communications to alert them that, in most cases, they could add video service if they just paid a few dollars more per month. That may sound unrealistic, but the price of Comcast’s Internet/video bundle is often just slightly higher than the price of a mid-level Internet plan.

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This technique is likely highly appealing to potential cord-cutters.

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Comcast has also offered some slimmed-down video packages designed to keep people from leaving.

Judging from Roberts’ comments to Bloomberg, the company has long known that it has to do more to keep subscribers from dropping their video plans, and the extra initiatives have paid off.

— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1318 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

4 Comments on Comcast Admits There’s Cord-Cutting; Why That’s Good For Comcast

  1. Comcast Subscriber // June 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm // Reply

    Sounds like Comcast billing is a “turkish bazaar” where you just call in and they invent a bundle for you. I bet their billing support representatives really enjoy not knowing what each individual subscriber actually has when they call in with questions.

  2. Samdy Lindsay // June 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm // Reply

    I know that after June I better get a low we package deal CA July cause I can’t afford higher prices. So beware o better get a good deal

  3. The reality is that after AT&T took over DirecTV, they actually sunk customer service to lower than (hard to believe, but I think it’s true) where Comcast was about 5 – 7 years ago. This is coming from a long, long-time DirecTV customer.

    While we’ve had Xfinity high-speed Internet for about 5 of those years (with hardly any issues at all, and given more bandwidth than advertised), we ended up talking with an Xfinity sales guy at Best Buy. For about $50 cheaper per month, we are able to bundle *more* television/movie channels with Xfinity than what DirecTV was allowing, for two years. At the end of that two years, we were advised to talk once again to a sales person about a month or so before the end of our contract to re-enable further savings.

    The last three times I called into DirecTV, I had to escalate my issue to a supervisor. Each time, the front-line CSR stated emphatically that the supervisor would give me the same answer as they, and they were wrong all three times. Not only this, but, frankly, DirecTV has completely offshored their support; the only difference now between front-line CSRs and the supervisors seems to be that the supervisors have more experience and are willing to actually think through your particular issue.

    We’ve had exactly the opposite experience now with Comcast. I dare say that they’re better than DirecTV in dealing with customers. The hardware — while not allowing completely wireless unites in the house — is still quite capable, and we actually like the idea of speaking into the remote to find shows. The interface is also much more Netflix or Hulu-like. The service is also very good — even got a credit during an outage when communicating with their social media folks.

    If DirecTV would pay as much attention to *current* customers as they do new customers, and if their customer service folks were significantly less negative-leaning on the phone, they might be in the better position that Comcast currently is.

  4. The biggest issue in my city, is the exclusivity of operators within certain boundaries; that prohibits competition. So Comcast exists only outside the “old city limits” while what used to be Brighthouse is inside. Of course that still leaves AT&T’s options(Direct TV, DSL) available wherever they’ve dropped in new cabling,

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