Many Comcast cable TV and Internet customers can expect an increase in their bills starting in December as the company makes price changes to cover increased broadcast TV and regional sports fees.
Broadcast TV is a monthly fee for ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. The regional sports fee includes networks such as NBC Sports Philadelphia, which gives Philadelphia subscribers access to 76ers, Flyers and Phillies games not on national broadcasts.
Broadcast TV fees in the Philadelphia market will increase by 11.2%, from $19.15 to $21.30 per month. Up 17.5% from $16.30 last year. In Philadelphia, the regional sports network fare will increase by 65 cents, from $12.70 to $13.35, an increase of more than 5%. Last year, that fee increased 21%, from $10.50 to $12.70.
The modem rental fee will increase by $1 from $14 to $15. Also, most Comcast internet packages will increase by an average of $3.05 per month, except for customers with promotional packages and those enrolled in Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. The low-cost internet service has remained steady at $9.95 a month since its launch more than a decade ago.
The increases will appear during the billing period that begins in the second half of December, which is when Comcast typically raises rates every year.
Some areas of the country served by Comcast will see higher increases in cable TV fees.
Officials in Taunton, Massachusetts, have been told that TV broadcast fees there will increase by $7.35 to $26 a month. In Sandown, New Hampshire, a letter sent by Comcast showed that TV broadcast fees would increase from $24.95 a month to $27.25 starting Dec. 20.
On average, nationally, Comcast customers will see their combined cable and internet bills increase by 3.8%. This is higher than the average growth of 3% until 2022.
“Our national average increase of 3.8% is half of the most recent rate of inflation,” Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said Friday.
The fees stations receive from Comcast for access to their cable systems have nearly tripled since 2006, the company said.
“Television networks and other video programmers continue to raise their prices, with broadcast television and sports the biggest drivers of growth in customer accounts,” Bilotta said. “As we invest in our broadband network, we continue to work hard to manage these costs for our customers to provide the best, most reliable Internet service in the country and to give our customers more affordable options in video and connectivity. find a package 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 premium packages. Comcast is in talks with teams and leagues for streaming rights to make regional sports networks available to subscribers of Peacock, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
A spokeswoman for NBCUniversal confirmed Friday that discussions are ongoing with partners and rights holders to make NBC Regional Sports Networks available on Peacock in 2023. Information on specific markets, gates, prices and tiers is not yet available.
Comcast has struggled with cord-cutters over the past few years, reporting in its third-quarter earnings report in October that it lost 561,000 video customers, a net loss of 1.6 million video customers for the nine months ended Sept. 30.
In Comcast’s second-quarter earnings report this year, the Philadelphia-based company said it failed to win any residential broadband customers for the first time. 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.
Customers’ rising Comcast bills also reflect a trend of losing video customers.
On an earnings call in late October, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and president and CFO Michael Kavanaugh said the company is focused on increasing revenue per user through rate increases and structuring the company’s tiered packages for broadband customers.
Comcast noted that “no one is immune” from the rising costs of television programming delivered to consumers. The company said the price of Hulu+ LiveTV and DirecTV Stream have each increased by about 75% since 2019, while its 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 upgrade its network with faster internet speeds, WiFi and new technology in homes.
Last December, Comcast dropped a plan that added a monthly data cap of 1.2 terabytes to home Internet users in 14 states in the Northeast and Washington, D.C. The change would have charged an additional $10 for every 50 gigabytes over that limit, up to $100. for each month. Similar data caps are already in effect in 27 states across Comcast’s Central and Western divisions. Caps were originally set at 1 terabyte, but were suspended before rising to 1.2 terabytes in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past decade, household Internet use has grown dramatically, driven by the bandwidth demands of subscription video services such as Netflix and online gaming. Average monthly usage in the US has increased from about 9 gigabytes in 2010 to an estimated 344 gigabytes in 2020 and continues to grow.
Before withdrawing the plan in the Northeast, Comcast said 1.2 terabytes would be enough for 21,600 hours of uninterrupted music, 500 hours of streaming HD TV, 34,000 hours of online gaming and 3,500 hours of video chat. The company abandoned the plan amid backlash from local governments, including a call for a price-gouging investigation by the Baltimore City Council. Lawmakers in Massachusetts have also explored legislation to ban usage-based payments during public health emergencies.
Roberts noted in October that monthly Internet usage is rising even among Comcast broadband customers who don’t subscribe to cable TV packages.
“On average, our broadband customers who don’t subscribe to traditional video from us already use about 650 gigabytes of data per month, and that’s just today,” Roberts said.