Comcast has increased its ‘Broadcast TV’ and ‘Regional Sports’ fees by a combined 288 percent in just four years, far more than any other major pay TV provider in that time period.
The nation’s largest cable operator first added a regional sports fee to subscriber bills in January 2015 with a $1 a month surcharge. Since then, Comcast has increased the fee each year, and it recently revealed it will raise it again in January 2019 to $8.25 a month. (That’s a $1.50 a month increase over 2018.)
Click Amazon: Today’s Holiday Specials!
Comcast’s Broadcast TV fee, which was $3.25 a month in January 2015, will rise from $7.75 a month in January 2018 to $8.25 a month in January 2019.
That means that Comcast subscribers will pay $16.50 a month for the two fees effective January 2019. That’s an 288 percent increase over January 2015 when the two fees totaled just $4.25 a month.
The cable operator, and other pay TV services who impose the fees, say they are necessary to offset the rising costs of licensing the rights to carry local channels and regional sports networks. But while those costs have risen, no one is claiming they have risen 288 percent in four years, or anywhere close to that amount.
Comcast isn’t the only major pay TV operator which has raised the fees in the last several years.
For instance, Charter, the second largest cable operator, recently raised its ‘Broadcast fee’ to $9.95 a month, which is roughly an increase of 59 percent since 2015. (Charter does not have a regional sports fee.)
DIRECTV, which imposes a monthly sports fee on packages that offer regional sports channels, bumped the fee up by roughly 60 percent from 2015 to 2018. (The satcaster has yet to reveal its 2019 pricing changes. It does not charge a ‘Broadcast fee.’)
The nation’s largest satellite TV service now charges as much as $8.29 a month for the sports fee, depending upon the market.
The sports and broadcast fees, which consumers often don’t notice in company promotions, could be contributing to the industry’s recent subscriber defections.
The rising cost of the monthly bill is the major reason consumers give for dropping their pay TV service. If a Comcast subscriber has a monthly video charge of $100, that would mean the two fees would represent nearly 17 percent of the total bill.
Over the course of a year, the Comcast video sub would pay $198 alone in sports and broadcast fees.
Subscribers might be even more upset if they knew that Comcast actually owned numerous regional sports channels, and local NBC broadcast affiliates. Consequently, Comcast is actually one of the companies demanding higher broadcast and sports carriage payments which the sports and broadcast fees are designed to offset.
— Phillip Swann
You’re right. In my market Time Warner Cable was advertising an $89.99 Bundle of services as long as ten years ago, which Spectrum still promotes today at the same $89.99 Bundle price. However, when you add in the mandatory Broadcast TV Surcharge of $9.95 and the required first Set-Top Box lease of $7.50, that $89.99 price balloons to almost $110 per month. If providers were just honest with their costs, people probably wouldn’t dislike them as much. As a consumer I’d rather be told a service is $107.99 per month, and includes everything I need for a base package, then to nickel and dime the consumer with extra fees and surcharges. Spectrum, and the former Time Warner Cable, claims it is a separate line item in hopes consumers will complain to their politicians to do something about it, but a decade after these fees were first introduced in the marketplace the MSOs plan isn’t working and it just makes them look like the bad guy to the consumer. The FCC forces customers to take Local Broadcast channels before they can subscribe to any national cable networks, so it’s not like a customer can just say “remove my local channels only and I’ll use an antenna”.