Comcast is starting to notify customers that prices for both Internet and video service are going up, and soon, according to a company spokeswoman, news reports and subscriber posts at social media sites.
The Oregonian writes that the nation’s largest cable operator has notified its subscribers in Oregon and Washington state that prices will go up several dollars a month on October 1. The biggest percentage increase will be the ‘sports fee,’ which will increase by $2 a month, and the ‘broadcast fee,’ which will rise by $1.50 a month.
Comcast now charges $5 a month for the ‘sports fee,’ which is intended to recover its acquisition costs for regional sports channels, and $7 a month for the broadcast fee, which covers carriage fees for local network affiliates.
In addition to Oregon and Washington, Albuquerque is expected to see a price hike next month, as well as several other markets.
Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokeswoman, confirms to the TV Answer Man that customers in a “small number of our markets are receiving notices about price changes on October 1.” But she added that the company hasn’t announced price hikes for other markets “at this time.”
However, Comcast historically gradually rolls out their annual price increases and everyone gets them within a few months after the initial phase.
The Oregonian also reports that Comcast plans to increase its monthly Internet modem rental fee by $1 a month.
But the rise in the sports and broadcast fees will likely incur the greatest wrath among Comcast’s video subscribers because they can’t opt out of paying even if they don’t watch their local channels, or regional sports channels.
In contrast, a Comcast Internet subscriber could purchase his or her own modem and bypass the rental fee.
As for the sports and broadcast fees, a Comcast spokeswoman tells The Oregonian that they must increase because program acquisition costs are rising dramatically.
“(The fees) allow us to be more transparent with our customers about the factors driving price changes, and represent only a portion of our costs of carrying broadcast and regional sports networks,” she said.
Moyer told the TV Answer Man that “we continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money — like faster Internet service and more WiFi hotspots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and a better customer experience. Unfortunately, the costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly, especially broadcast television and sports programming which are the biggest drivers of increases in price adjustments.”
Like most other TV providers, Comcast has raised prices by anywhere from 3-7 percent every year for the past several years. However, with an increased focus in the media on cord-cutting and slimmer pay TV packages, the nation’s largest cable operator could risk losing more customers with this price hike.
— Phillip Swann