Comcast will raise the average price on program packages by 3.2 percent in January 2021, as well as implement a regional sports channel fee hike of $2 a month and a Broadcast TV fee increase of up to $4.50 a month, depending upon the market, the TV Answer Man has learned.

The price boost follows similar recent increases by DIRECTV, and streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu Live, FuboTV and Netflix. The TV companies all say that prices must go up now to offset the escalating cost of program acquisition. Pay TV operators must pay the networks and other content providers to carry their programming.

“Rising programming costs – most notably for broadcast TV and sports – continue to be the biggest factors driving price increases for all content distributors and their customers, not just Comcast,” a Comcast spokesperson today told the TV Answer Man. “We’re continuing to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our network to provide the best, most reliable broadband service in the country and the flexibility to choose our industry-leading video platform with X1 or the highest quality streaming product with Flex, the only free streaming TV device with voice remote that’s included with broadband service.”

Comcast’s price increase will impact subscribers who have one, two or three products from the company, such as video, phone and Internet. There will also be an increase in TV box rentals by up to $2.50 a month.

The cable operator’s regional sports fee in 2020 has been as high as $8.75 a month so the $2 a month increase will put it over $10 a month in some markets. However, the Comcast spokesperson notes that the company earlier this year refunded some regional sports fees due to the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down live sports.

In addition, there will not be an increase in the Chicago market because its regional sports fee was increased by $6.20 a month earlier this year when Comcast added the Marquee Sports Network, the TV home of the Chicago Cubs.

The Broadcast TV fee, which is based on the cost of adding local stations in your market, will rise by as much as $4.50 a month in some markets. The fee has been as high as $15 a month in some areas so a $4.50 a month boost there would put it near $20 a month.

The Comcast spokesperson notes that subscribers who have promotional plans for video, phone or Internet will not see a plan increase until their agreements expire. However, their fees, such as the Broadcast TV and sports fees, will increase in January.

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— Phillip Swann