The Recap: Netflix Price Hike, T-Mobile Buying a Cable Company and More





Netflix kicked off “earning season,” a stretch when companies report their quarterly results and offer a glimpse into the health of their business. 

While this will be a financial-heavy version of The Recap, Netflix didn’t just talk about how much it made. It also joined virtually every other media player in raising prices (yay…). 

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. 

Netflix Raises Prices

It’s another week, another price hike. It’d almost be laughable if our wallets weren’t crying. 

Netflix raised the premium tier of its service by $3 to $22.99 a month, while bringing back the basic tier for $11.99, or $2 more before it disappeared last year. Netflix made a big point about how the ad-tier remained at $6.99, but that’s because it wants to shift audiences there to create a bigger base for advertisers. 

On the financial front, Netflix added 8.8 million new subscribers as its password-sharing crackdown continues to yield dividends. If you haven’t been hit yet, don’t worry: Netflix says it has several more quarters of growth from this to go, meaning there are plenty of customers who haven’t been affected – but will be. 

T-Mobile a Cable Provider?

T-Mobile is interested in buying Frontier Communications, according to analysts from Wells Fargo. This comes from a report from Reuters that Jana Partners, an activist investment firm, has taken a stake in Frontier and urged it to sell. 

Jana may be working with T-Mobile to facilitate a deal, although a lot of this is speculation from Wall Street analysts. But it makes sense since Frontier has a lot of landline and fiber infrastructure in different parts of the country, from the West Coast to the Midwest, which could supercharge its efforts to offer fiber and expand its 5G coverage. 

Cellular service, remember, is still dependent on fiber lines to connect cell towers to the central office. 

T-Mobile has already been testing selling fiber service at a small scale, and Frontier could also help on that front. 

T-Mobile’s Forced Migration That Wasn’t

Speaking of T-Mobile, the carrier was supposed to have started alerting customers on legacy phone plans that they were going to be moved to newer, more expensive options. But that didn’t happen. 

Now, T-Mobile is calling this program a “small-scale test” and said it hasn’t begun notifying people yet. Yet some customers on Reddit say they’ve dealt with customer care about it. 

Confusing? You bet it is. Fortunately, Cord Cutters News put together this explainer with info directly from T-Mobile.

AT&T’s Strong Start to 5G Home Internet

AT&T just expanded its Internet Air 5G service to 16 markets in late August, so it was pretty impressive that the company already signed up 25,000 customers through the rest of the quarter, which ended in September. 

Growth in 5G home internet is expected to be a trend we see with Verizon and T-Mobile, which report their own results later this week. 

AT&T continued to show strong growth elsewhere, including adding 468,000 post-paid wireless phone customers, or subscribers who pay at the end of the month and generally have higher credit scores, and adding 296,000 new fiber customers. It did lose 416,000 phone customers, signaling a continued deterioration of that business. 

AT&T also said that it was happy with DIRECTV’s performance, but didn’t rule out a sale. 

Will Amazon pressure the cable companies?

Amazon’s launch of its first test satellites for its Project Kuiper internet initiative marks a major milestone toward the future where consumers will have more internet options than ever before. My colleague, Luke Bouma, suggests Project Kuiper could pressure cable companies like Comcast and Spectrum by injecting a bit more competition into the broadband world. 

It could lead to more people cutting the (internet) cord, moving to more wireless options like a satellite-based system or 5G home internet, which we call Cord Cutting 2.0. 

We’re still a ways off from this reality, with Amazon not launching this service until at least next year. But it’s something to look forward to.

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