With live sports on hold, many cable customers are wondering why they’re paying fees for content they’re not getting. After weeks of customers speaking out and asking for refunds, Comcast is responding.
Regional sports networks pay for the rights to broadcast sports. Comcast, like all cable companies, pays those networks for rights to carry their channels, delivering sports to their customers. Comcast says that, because of that chain, it’s up to the leagues to issue refunds.
Comcast made this statement: “Any rebates will be determined once the NBA, NHL, and MLB announce the course of action for their seasons, including the number of games that will be played, and of course we will pass those rebates or other adjustments along to our customers.”
Customers aren’t alone in calling on everyone involved to resolve the issue. “The whole chain should just pause and think about all of the upheaval in the world and all of the financial worries that customers have,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, head of the state Legislature’s Consumer Affairs Committee, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They should not be imposing these prices on people at a time when everyone else is being asked to forgo mortgage, rent, etc.”
The cable providers argue that the channels are still available, airing classic sports events, documentaries, and some unique sports programming to fill the void left by regular live sports.
“They won’t throw money at their customers when their costs of goods hasn’t changed,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst for MoffettNathanson for the New York Times.
While customers may have always accepted sports fees as a necessary cost to get the channel package they wanted, cord cutting has opened up new possibilities for an alternative to those costs. Cord cutting has been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic, with young adults looking to avoid sports fees leading the pack of new streamers.
With many cable customers only keeping the service for the sake of watching their favorite teams, and that benefit now taken away, will cable survive the pandemic?
“Now imagine you have pulled out the last piece of the Jenga puzzle, which is that sports are no longer on the air,” Moffett said. “The whole foundation, the linchpin that was keeping it together, is gone, and the Jenga tower collapses.”
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