Comcast Pretends That Cord Cutters Aren't Cord Cutters If They Cut Cord Because Of The Economy

from the denial-is-a-channel-on-the-internet dept

A couple of months back, we noted that the TV companies were in complete denial, insisting that the idea that people would cut the cable cord to go internet-only would never happen. However, we noted with amusement that the same day, that article came out so did a report saying that cable TV had suffered its first ever decline in subscribers. It seems that’s continuing. Comcast apparently lost 275,000 video subscribers in the third quarter. However, the company has an ingenious way to make it clear that those people aren’t cord cutters. Why not? Because they’re saying they canceled their accounts due to the economy:

Comcast lost 275,000 cable subscribers last quarter, and has lost 622,000 in the first 9 months of 2010. More evidence of “cord cutting”? Nope, says the cable giant. It’s evidence that the economy sucks. That’s the short version of the company’s explanation for the drop during its earnings call this morning: It had a variety of reasons to explain the exodus of subscribers, but all of them revolved around money that their previous customers don’t have or don’t want to part with.

Um. That doesn’t change the fact that they were cord cutters. One of the reasons why people will cut the cord is that cable TV is too expensive (something that Mark Cuban is still confused about). One of the things contributing to the “tough economic conditions” for people at home is the fact that their cable bill keeps going up and up to pay for the “billions” in retransmission fees that Cuban and others want to last forever. And that’s only going to serve to drive more people to cut the cord.

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Comments on “Comcast Pretends That Cord Cutters Aren't Cord Cutters If They Cut Cord Because Of The Economy”

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52 Comments
chris (profile) says:

after being internet only, broadcast TV is weird

i watch one program on broadcast TV because i can’t wait to watch the download (which i usually get 4 hours later), and the whole process seems so decadent and wasteful.

the program takes like 65 minutes, instead of 40, i have to watch the clock until it comes on, it gets constantly interrupted with commercials, and they’re the same commercials over and over.

that kind of reckless inefficiency makes me feel like i’m doing something bad, like driving a humvee or eating an endangered animal.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: after being internet only, broadcast TV is weird

Ads are a waste of energy your TV could be making better use of. Such as watching video you want to see.

if given a choice between ads or no ads, everyone would choose to not have ads. but if there is no way around ads, why not make them at least interesting to watch?

if you bought the air time, why not have 10 variations on an ad, so you don’t burn the viewer out.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

People are also pissed about...

…being forced to pay for programming that they don’t want or worse, find morally or politically offensive.

In NO OTHER arena of American civil life are consumers forced to buy bundles of products. When I walk into a grocery store, I am not forced to choose between Family-Feed-Bag 1, 2 or 3.

Television programming is NO DIFFERENT. The technology limitation excuses are holdover lies from the past. The boxes today have total discrete control over the channels gated through.

Revolt! Revolt I say! Cut the cord! Smash the Dish!

Make these bastards crawl back to us with decently priced ala-carte programming by network.

Mister Duke says:

Re: Re: Re: People are also pissed about...

Say what??? The FCC does not test, or certify antennas. Better read part 15 dude. One thing you are thinking about is MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) limits based on whole body SAR (Specific Adsorption Rate) safety levels. As taken into consideration whether it (the antenna) is in a controlled, or uncontrolled environment, distance/height to the antenna, wattage of the RF output, losses in the cable, the frequency you are operating, and finally the gain of the antenna. As long as you follow safe antenna/engineering guidelines, and watch your MPE you should be fine. Now if you open your WiFi box you better know what you are doing to prevent harming yourself, and others. Also note that once you open your box it is no longer FCC type accepted, and if your cause enough interference that the FCC gets involved expect to be slapped with a NAL.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 People are also pissed about...

OP is probably talking about the cantenna hack where you point your cantenna at the satellite dish:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&biw=1280&bih=802&gbv=2&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=satellite+tv+cantenna&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

there’s no opening of devices, you’re simply attaching the pigtail and changing the antenna from an omni-directional to uni-directional and then to a parabolic. it’s about using the parabolic shape of the dish, not the TV hardware or frequencies.

the frequncy and wattage stay the same, the dbi may increase, or decrease depending on the design. most of these hacks just change the shape of the broadcast area, making it more linear in the case of the cantenna and more conical in the case of a parabolic antenna. people do similar things with woks, strainers, and fry baskets:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1280&bih=802&q=wok-fi+antenna&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

the FCC has better things to worry about than parabolic dish mashups, like folks who use firmware to change the frequencies the wifi card is broadcasting on:
http://www.defcon.org/images/defcon-16/dc16-presentations/defcon-16-de_bouvette-farina.pdf

(frequency manipulation stuff is toward the end, parts of the 4ghz range are supposedly reserved for military applications.)

rabbit wise (profile) says:

Even if it is true, their own logic still screws them...

Here’s the problem with their logic –

if they are actually right and people are turning off cable because they can’t pay for it, they are going to find a substitute…that is cheaper and better…which means when the economy picks back up, no one is coming back.

So they had better hope their logic is just as wrong as the cable-cutter theory or they are still screwed.

Pierre Wolff (profile) says:

Metering Internet usage

As you can imagine however, Comcast is in a unique position to not care because as soon as the exodus from the cable packages to over-the-top solutions gets too large they’ll just start moving to metered Internet usage (which they’re trialing already in some areas, I believe). Customers will begin getting dinged just as much if not more, from the bandwidth fees.

I fear that the reality is that w/so little choice in the marketplace, we are at their mercy one way or the other.

rabbit wise (profile) says:

Re: Metering Internet usage

Here’s the problem with the whole metered usage. My cell phone provider provides pretty extensive usage stats for me. It did not take long to figure out that I didn’t need the pimp-daddy plan at all. Thanks, Mobile-Phone-Provider for saving me $75 a month! (And I’m going to bet that there’s a lot of folks like me.)

And considering that I have a separate satellite and broadband companies – both of which have tv and internet services, hey, have at it. One will lose my business. The other may potentially gain my business. And I have a growing stack of books to read (paper…don’t have to download them, thankyouverymuch)…

Play your games with each other because you know what? I’m perfectly comfortable sitting home at night with NO TV or computer turned on.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Metering Internet usage

That is why the ‘metered internet usage’ needs to be stomped upon by the FCC, who have to say that if you offer a certain speed, you have to be able to download at that speed 24/7 with NO ‘metering’ of your service.

Personally, I ‘overuse’ Comcast’s service nearly every month (though they keep on saying that I only use 230GB’s a month, the figure is closer to 1TB).
The last time they tried to get on my case about it? I told them “Okay, then I will switch to FiOS and drop my cable TV as well! I will also tell my family and friends to do the same!”
Their tune changed REALLY DAMNED FAST after that!

Chosen Reject says:

I just did the opposite

For the first time in years, I just subscribed to cable TV, and with Comcast no less.

Granted, it was because subscribing to cable tv gave me the option of having a 10x internet speed increase for only $2 more per month. After the 6 month promotion period ends, I’ll be dropping the cable TV and going to the slower internet service until my house is built in a neighborhood that has fiber and its own ISP.

Also, does anyone know why ISPs still like to compare their speeds with dialup? I’d love to see USPS, Fedex, or UPS start comparing their speed with the Pony Express.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Denial is the natural first stage of the grieving process after all.”

Record Labels
TV Studios
Newspapers
Magazines
Books
Movie Studios

Am I missing anyone??

Also with the number of people the content industries “Employ” (20% of the US population) shouldn’t the US have gone for a mental health insurance plan instead of ObamaCare?

Anonymous Coward says:

8 years ago I was thoroughly dissatisfied with cable/satellite services.

You pay for a month of programming, you get 2 weeks worth, mostly reruns over and over of the same shows. After the 2 weeks, what was on one channel of PPV has switched with another. If you have both services, you’ve already had the chance to watch all of it multiple times before the swap.

Add very poor programming choices, humor so poor they have to use canned laughter to tell you where the punch line is so you can’t possibly miss what was supposed to be funny, reality shows that are anything but, soaps that hold no interest whatever, and there is very little left actually worth watching. Cut that broadcast of the show by the commercial time and you have very little left.

So I cut the cord way back then. I don’t own a tv, don’t want one, have no plans to ever buy another. Nor will I miss the subpar programming.

One thing I did notice is that now-a-days, I realize just how obnoxious commercials are. When at someone else’s house and one comes on, I want to get up and leave as it is the equivalent to nails on the chalk board.

I no longer fork up and haven’t for a goodly long time, any money for PPV or for running a tv. Tv watching is no longer a pastime in this house.

Anonymous Coward says:

At $60.00 plus a month, we would rather eat. So we cut the cord and actually got better television. We always get the networks now and we also get 4 channels of PBS that is the best programming I’ve ever seen. No rate increase is a wonderful thing. ComCast actually got too expensive for normal people and priced itself right out of the market. Likewise with Direct TV. Who needs them?

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Incompatible business model

Cable’s business model is incompatible with consumer choice. Current model is: Provider(s) -> Carrier -> Consumer. Where consumer has choice A) Pay and B) not pay. This worked in the past because there was no competition. Now there is lots of competition and consumers have choice. The model now is:
Provider(s) -> Carrier(s) -> Consumer

The carriers are RF (over the air), Satellite, Cable, TCP/IP (aka Internet).

The game is changing. The entertainment industry is resistant to change because it’s worked well for a long time and even today still rakes in a ton of dough for them. Basically the carrier was the middle man. The providers had no contact with the end consumer. This allowed the providers to avoid competition and they could charge whatever they wanted since they controlled the content the provider could offer to the consumer.

Today, consumers have choice and consumers are waking up and realizing they can avoid the problem of a single carrier and opt to drop it altogether and use alternative methods of entertainment. The traditional model is dying. It’s only a short matter of time before we hear the industry start crying for taxes to be levied to support the dying industry. Yes, this is a repeat of the music industry woes.

Irwin Starr (profile) says:

The cable program cost/retrans fee dilemma

There is only one logical solution to the retransmission consent dilemma as well as the demand by cable networks for increasing their fees. dilemma

Let the marketplace determine what television channels are worth by requiring unbundling of all channels, place a price tag on each, and we’ll soon know what the public wants and is willing to pay for.

There should be three types of cable channels available:

1. Those for which the subscriber is charged.
2. Those willing to pay the cable company a fee in order to reach viewers. (Those could include channels on which the cable operator makes a commission-such as shopping channels.)
3. Those would for whatever reason are deemed mandatory for carriage, such as city, County, public school, public service, etc.

This approach would keep retransmission consent fees in line because the stations and networks would realize viewers can simply go to over the air coverage in most viewing areas, returning them no direct revenue in retransmission consent.

MediaMathGuy says:

Sorry to burst your bubble about cord cutting – it’s not that prevalent. People are more likely to cut premium services than the entire TV package, and providers bundle triple plays to keep consumers in the fold on both platforms. Comcast can’t say they are losing to telcos!

All MSOs are losing out to Telco and to a lesser extent, DBS.

Last 4 quarters (3Q09 to 2Q10):
Cable lost 1.6MM HHs
Telcos gained 1.2MM HHs
DBS gained .8MM HHs
Net gain .4MM HHs

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