Q. My Comcast bill just went up this month and now I read that it’s going up again?!! Are they serious? How much will it go up this time? And when will it increase? That may be the final straw for me. — Kayla, College Park, Maryland.
Kayla, you can relax. There have been several articles in the past week saying that Comcast is raising prices again, just after it increased prices in December 2019 and January 2020. But the stories are wrong. Dead wrong.
Let me explain.
Comcast last week released its 2019 fourth quarter report, and company executives later took questions from Wall Street analysts on everything from the future of their video division to Broadband subscriber gains to the upcoming Comcast-owned streaming service called Peacock.
During the discussion, Michael J. Cavanagh, Comcast’s senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, was asked about the company’s declining video subscriber base. The cable operator lost a net of 733,000 video subscribers in 2019.
“With the rate adjustments that we are implementing in 2020, as well as the ongoing changes in consumer behavior, we expect higher video subscriber losses this year,” Cavanagh said.
Critics of traditional pay TV services (cable, satellite), such as financial analyst Rich Greenfield, immediately seized on the remark to suggest Comcast had announced a new price increase.
“Comcast CFO just said that with rate increases planned for 2020 and continued consumer shift away from bundled video packages, investors should expect higher Comcast video sub losses in 2020 $CMCSA #cordcutting,” Greenfield wrote on Twitter.
Greenfield’s tweet seemed to trigger a slew of articles saying Comcast was raising prices again.
“Comcast is raising cable prices again ahead of its Peacock streaming service launch,” BGR.com wrote.
“Comcast is jacking up its prices again,” added Techspot.com.
“Comcast cable subscribers’ bill will go up,” wrote Digital Trends.
“Cable prices likely to go higher in advance of streaming Peacock launch,” stated USA Today.
The problem, however, is that Cavanagh was referring to a price increase Comcast had already announced last October — a price increase the company has been implementing across the country over the last two months.
To his credit, Greenfield later acknowledged on Twitter that Cavanagh’s comment was actually just a reference to the most recent price increase, and not a new one.
“Comcast management added that rate increases on cable subscribers were delayed from Q4 2019 into early 2020 — ties to comments to expect higher sub losses in 2020 vs. 2019,” Greenfield tweeted 45 minutes after his first tweet.
But the damage was done. Some publications, such as TechDirt, quoted Greenfield’s first tweet as the basis for their stories. And social media sites are overflowing with angry comments about the “rate increase.”
But there is no new 2020 price increase, only the one we’ve known about for three months.
That doesn’t mean Comcast won’t announce a new price increase this year. In fact, it likely will. The cable operator, like rivals DIRECTV and Dish, have raised prices at the beginning of the year for the last several years. So it’s quite probable that it will announce a 2021 price increase late this year.
But, Kayla, your 2020 prices are not going up again, no matter what some publications are suggesting.
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— Phillip Swann