Many Comcast cable TV and Internet customers can expect increases in their bills starting in December as the company makes price changes it says are necessary to cover rising bills. regional television and sports broadcasting costs.
TV broadcast fees are monthly fees for ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. Regional sports fees cover networks like NBC Sports Philadelphia, which gives Philadelphia subscribers access to 76ers, Flyers and Phillies games that aren’t broadcast nationally.
In the Philadelphia market, TV streaming fees will increase by 11.2%, from $19.15 to $21.30 per month. Last year it was up 17.5% from $16.30. Regional sports network fees in Philadelphia will jump 65 cents from $12.70 to $13.35, an increase of more than 5%. Last year, these fees increased by 21%, from $10.50 to $12.70.
The monthly cost of renting a modem will increase by $1, from $14 to $15. Additionally, most Comcast Internet plans will become, on average, $3.05 per month more expensive, with the exception of customers who have promotional plans and those enrolled in Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. The low-income internet service has held steady at $9.95 per month since its launch over a decade ago.
The increases will show up in the billing cycle that begins in the second half of December, which is when Comcast typically raises its rates each year.
Certain areas of the country served by Comcast will see much larger increases in cable TV fees.
Officials in Taunton, Mass., have been told TV streaming fees will rise by $7.35 per month to $26. And in Sandown, New Hampshire, a letter sent by Comcast showed an increase in TV streaming fees from $24.95 per month to $27.25 per month effective Dec. 20.
On average, nationwide, Comcast customers will see their combined cable and Internet bills increase by 3.8%. This is more than the average increase of 3% by 2022.
“Our national average increase of 3.8% is about half the most recent rate of inflation,” Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said Friday.
The fees stations charge Comcast to be included in its cable systems have nearly tripled since 2006, the company said.
“TV networks and other video programmers continue to raise prices, with TV and sports being the main drivers of rising customer bills,” Bilotta said. “We continue to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our broadband network to provide the best and most reliable Internet service in the country and to offer our customers more low-cost choices when it comes to video and connectivity so they can find a plan that fits their lifestyle and budget.”
Access to NBC Sports Philadelphia has long been a selling point for Comcast, and to get it, customers must subscribe to one of the company’s higher-tier packages. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Comcast was negotiating streaming rights deals with teams and leagues to make regional sports networks available to Peacock subscribers, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which is owned by Comcast.
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal confirmed Friday that discussions are underway with partners and rights holders to make NBC Regional Sports Networks available on Peacock in 2023. Information on specific markets, triggering, pricing and prioritization are not yet available.
Comcast has struggled in recent years with cable cutters, reporting a loss of 561,000 video customers in its third-quarter earnings report in October, with a net loss of 1.6 million video customers over the course of for the nine months ending September 30.
In Comcast’s second-quarter earnings report this year, the Philadelphia-based company also noted that it failed to win first-time residential broadband Internet customers. Comcast is the largest Internet service provider in the United States, with approximately 29.8 million residential Internet customers and 2.3 million business broadband customers. In its third quarter earnings report, Comcast reported a gain of 14,000 broadband customers.
Comcast’s growing customer bills also reflect the continuing trend of losing video customers.
During the earnings call in late October, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Chairman and CFO Michael Cavanaugh both said the company is focused on growing revenue per user, through a combination of rate increases and how the company’s tiered plans are structured for broadband customers.
Comcast noted that “no one is immune” to increases in television programming costs, which are passed on to consumers. The company said Hulu + LiveTV and DirecTV Stream have each increased in price by around 75% since 2019, while direct-to-consumer streaming services have increased by an average of 28%.
Comcast has also invested nearly $20 billion over the past five years to improve its network with faster Internet speeds, WiFi, and new technologies in homes.
Last December, Comcast scrapped a plan that would have added a monthly data cap of 1.2 terabytes for home Internet users in 14 northeastern states and Washington, DC. The change would have charged an additional $10 for every 50 gigabytes above that threshold, up to $100. per month. Data thresholds like this are already in effect in 27 states in Comcast’s Central and Western Divisions. The caps were originally set at 1 terabyte, but were suspended during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic before increasing to 1.2 terabytes.
Household Internet usage has increased sharply over the past decade, driven by subscription video services, such as Netflix, and bandwidth demands from online gaming. Average monthly usage in the United States has grown from around 9 gigabytes in 2010 to around 344 gigabytes in 2020 and continues to grow.
Before scrapping the plan in the Northeast, Comcast said 1.2 terabytes would be enough for 21,600 hours of nonstop music, 500 hours of HD TV streaming, 34,000 hours of online gaming and 3,500 hours of chat. video. The company scrapped the plan amid backlash from local governments, including a call for a price inquiry by the Baltimore City Council. Massachusetts lawmakers have also explored legislation that would ban usage-based billing during public health emergencies.
Roberts noted in October that monthly Internet usage was increasing even among Comcast’s broadband customers who did not subscribe to cable TV packages.
“On average, our broadband customers who don’t subscribe to traditional video from us already use nearly 650 gigabytes of data per month, and that’s just today,” Roberts said.
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