The Recap: Spectrum Price Hike, Streaming Cancellations, and More





Man on couch watching TV

What better way to start the new year than…another price hike?

Yep, rate increases weren’t just a 2023 thing, with Spectrum the latest cable provider jacking up internet prices. One other company, however, is actually lowering them. 

But there’s a bit of good news – including a surprise extension of Max its B/R Sports package free trial.

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.

Another Year, Another Price Hike

Spectrum, which is owned by Charter Communications, joined the throngs of cable TV and streaming companies in raising the prices of its internet service, including a hefty increase in its low-income affordable internet program, Cord Cutters News reported on Tuesday.  

If this feels like déjà vu, you’re not alone. Spectrum, after all, just raised the prices on phone, internet and video services in July, meaning it’s been less than six months since the last hike. 

On the flip side, Optimum actually reduced the price of its internet plans, with the 300 Mbps and 500 Mbps options falling by $10 a piece. The company said this wouldn’t hurt revenue too much since most customers are already paying less than the full rate.

You hear that? If you’re paying full price for Optimum, you might want to call and negotiate a new rate. 

Max’s Tech Issues Are a Boon to You

Thank goodness for “tech integrations,” or in the case of Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, the lack of them. The company on Friday confirmed that its sports package, called B/R Sports, would remain free for several more months as it worked out technical issues with the service and app. 

That’s good news to any March Madness fans, as B/R Sports’ free trial was supposed to end in February, just before the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

It’s unclear how long the delay is – Max didn’t say – but this could take you through the NBA and NHL postseasons. 

FCC Shuts Down Local Station Consolidation

Late last week (I was out, so I’m cheating a bit), the Federal Communications Commission said it would not look at changing the rules that limit how many local broadcast stations a company can own in a single market. 

That’s a blow to the big broadcasters, who have increasingly scooped up independent stations across the nation, with some finding themselves hitting a limit based on the FCC rules. 

Those companies can own more than one station in the same market, but they own more than one of the big four: ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. 

The broadcasters have long lobbied for looser regulations, arguing they need the scale to compete with big media and tech companies. 

Streaming Cancellations Are Up

Cord cutting doesn’t appear limited to just cable service. The Wall Street Journal crunched some numbers provided by research firm Antenna, and found the rate of people who are canceling more than one streaming service has increased from two years ago. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise, given the number of services we all signed up for during the pandemic, and the fact that they’ve gotten more expensive. 

There’s also the rise of free, ad-supported services like Tubi, Roku Channel, and more, all competing for your attention. With so many options, now every streaming service seems so critical now. 

Pluto TV Could Benefit from Warner Bros. Discovery-Paramount Deal

With Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly in talks with Paramount over a potential merger, my colleague Luke Bouma argues that one winner in deal would be Pluto TV. Pluto TV is a free, ad-based platform of live and on-demand shows and movies. And more importantly, it’s something Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t have. 

Right now, Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming hopes lie in MAX. But Pluto TV’s position as a free,ad-supported service at a time when more people are tuning into them makes it a valuable asset. Luke noted that the addition of the Warner catalog of content would make Pluto TV even more popular. 

The prospect of the deal, however, has also seen its fair share of critics, with many worried that Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s handling of Warner after the merger bodes poorly for Paramount, and that further media consolidation may hurt the quality of movies and shows that we’ll get. 

Next edition: I’ll be in Las Vegas at CES for most of this week, so expect a big conference-themed version of The Recap. 

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