The Recap: Comcast Price Hikes, DIRECTV-Tegna Fight Gets Uglier, and More




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Comcast Cable Truck

It’s been about a week or so since the last price hike from a cable or streaming service, so we’re overdue. 

The latest to warn customers that its prices were going up is cable giant Comcast, which said the increases would take effect later this week. It follows price hikes from DIRECTV, DISH, and pretty much every streaming service out there. Cord cutter or not, you’re probably paying more for content than you were a year ago (if you stuck around). 

Meanwhile, DIRECTV and local broadcast owner Tegna started slinging mud at each other after talks broke down last week, resulting in 64 stations across the country going dark. I wouldn’t hold my breath that the two sides will make up anytime soon. 

As always, there was a lot going on in the world of cord cutting. But that’s why The Recap exists, to catch you up on the biggest stories and why you should care about them. 

Here’s what you need to know from this past week.

Comcast Price Hikes

Given how many price increases we’ve seen this year, it felt inevitable to see Comcast jack up its cable bill

There are a myriad of increases, depending on your plan. The TV service will go up by $6 a month, in addition to a $4 increase in broadcast TV fees. Regional sports networks and premium channels are getting their own increases. 

Internet costs will go up by $4 a month on average, and home security subscribers will see their bills rise by $5. 

The increases come right after a particularly bad quarter, which saw Comcast lost nearly half a million TV customers and 18,000 internet subscribers. 

These price hikes likely aren’t going to help those numbers much in the fourth quarter. 

The Mud-Slinging Begins

A week after talks between DIRECTV and Tegna broke down, Tegna accused DIRECTV of not taking the negotiations seriously, accusing the pay-TV provider of pulling a “stunt” by asking to bring back the blacked out feed for government and military facilities. DIRECTV in turn slammed Tegna for denying military personnel the chance to watch the Army-Navy game this weekend. 

This comes after DIRECTV Chief Content Officer Rob Thun weighed whether the company needed the local stations at all, and considered just offering a national feed instead.

Disney+ and Hulu Merged (Sort of)

Disney kicked off its beta trial merging Disney+ with Hulu’s on-demand content. Users will be able to see a Hulu tile next to National Geographic and Star Wars, although it’s not available on every device. 

The full version is expected to launch in March, but there’s still no word on pricing.

The influx of more mature Hulu content should help Disney+ become a more attractive destination, especially if you’re not a Star Wars or Marvel fan (and after Secret Invasion, who could blame you?). 

Spectrum Wants to Drop More Cable Channels

Spectrum’s deal with Walt Disney, which resulted in eight cable channels getting dropped, may just be the beginning. Charter Communications Chief Financial Officer Jessica Fischer said during an investor conference that she wants to push to drop more underperforming cable channels, and instead add streaming services to the bundle. 

It’s structured like the Disney deal, which brings Disney+ to some Spectrum subscribers in exchange for losing channels like Freeform. 

T-Mobile CEO Hints at His Own Price Hike

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said he was thinking about changing the price of its popular 5G home internet service. 

“You might see us experiment with rate vs. volume dynamics over this next year,” Sievert said. “We want to make sure we add the most possible value to the business.”

If you translate the business jargon, he’s talking about higher rates for customers. 

Considering we began with a price hike, it’s fitting (and sad) that we’re ending with the possibility of another.

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