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Comcast CEO Admits You 'Can't Keep Raising Prices Forever,' But Seems Intent On Trying Anyway

from the self-inflicted-wound dept

As Internet video continues to slowly pick away at cable subscriber totals, most cable companies have absolutely refused to compete on price. Apparently, most of them intend to see just how long they can get suckers cable TV customers to keep paying an arm and a leg for bloated bundles of mostly awful content, only actually competing on price when the problem of cord cutting hits critical mass. Until then, cable execs spend their time either pretending that cord cutting doesn't exist, or proudly fooling themselves into thinking they still offer the best video content value in the streaming video and BitTorrent age.

Every so often a cable executive will pop up from milking the cable cash cow to pay a tiny bit of lip service to the idea of lower prices and more flexible cable bundles. The latest case in point is Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who this week at least acknowledged that the cable TV cash cow is not immortal:
"This conversation that is happening right now only is going to accelerate (cable adaptation). I do think on the other side, however, there is a realization that you can’t keep raising prices forever and [without] either having serious margin change or people saying ‘I’m going to live without some channels.’ I think you’re seeing that tension rise. I think these things have a way of correcting or balancing out before something draconian happens. I’m hopeful that is the case."
Except the Internet video revolution isn't going to magically "correct" itself or "balance out." It's going to swallow the cable industry piece by piece until it finally listens to consumers and starts offering better value and better customer service. And while cable TV customer defections are happening at a slow trickle right now (Comcast lost 69,000 subscribers last quarter), it's only going to accelerate as the options improve. These losses will also start hitting Comcast's voice subscriber totals as wireless service improves, digital voice becomes irrelevant, and Comcast customers look for ways to trim their bloated bills.

As Roberts was busy stating the obvious, many were quick to point out that Comcast's busy imposing all manner of new TV and broadband price increases as is the cable industry's proud fall tradition. Cable TV prices are rising, broadband prices are increasing, DVR, set top and cable modem prices are rising -- and there's always a new, obnoxious, below-the-line fee around the corner. And whether it's set top boxes, net neutrality or last mile competition, Comcast works tirelessly to ensure this skyward price hike status quo remains firmly intact, all while offering the worst customer service in any industry.

So go ahead, cut your cable TV line; Comcast will just take its pound of flesh from your broadband bill via rate hikes, sneaky fees, usage caps and overage charges (or a new $30 fee if you want to avoid usage caps entirely). And because many of Comcast's territories are actually becoming less competitive than ever as telcos exit unwanted DSL markets, there's not much customers can do about it short of building their own community ISP.

Filed Under: brian roberts, cable tv, prices
Companies: comcast


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 3:34am

    Just waiting for the tipping point
    .....and its coming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 18 Sep 2015 @ 4:21am

    But these guys are notoriously bad tippers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 4:37am

    Woops

    Sorry, he misspoke. People without a Natural Monopoly can't keep raising prices forever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 6:39am

    That's why we need better regulation (Title II was a good start) to foster competition and force the giants out of their comfort zones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 6:43am

    Tipping Point...

    ...done been reached for me. Comcast wanted to charge $5/mo. extra to continue to send paper bills...told 'em bye-bye.

    Since AT&T won't sell DSL in my neighborhood, and I cant see paying $40+/mo. for some craptastically suboptimal dial-up line or cellular access at rape-rates, I am exploring whether broadband mainly via free public sources can suffice. I simply have to plan ahead instead of doing all my big Internet tasks spontaneously at home. I have discovered that there are hundreds of free broadband sources liberally sprinkled in and around places I often visit (he posted via the open wifi network accessible from his doctor's waiting room). I observe that I own the advantage of living in a major metro area.

    It's an experiment, an adventure I (my family) would not have have been driven to undertake were it not for the awfulness of the broadband industry in the U.S.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 6:52am

    I have Comcast's 'package' deal with Home phone + Cable TV in 3 rooms + Internet 'Blast!' from them.

    I recently lowered the cable plan, and got rid of the only DVR in the house to bring an ALMOST $300 a month phone bill down to $214. It stayed $214 for 2 months before magically jumping to $236 this month.

    At this point I'm done with this scummy shit. As far as I am concerned I will go with a competitor, buy my own modem, and stream everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 7:31am

    Comcast DOES see that the future is not in cable TV but it's in Internet TV. That is why they are putting caps on NOW before users understand that streaming TV shows and HD movies will easily go over the cap. Then the $30 Comcast to relieve the cap is a revenue replacement for the cable TV that they dropped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scatman09 (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 8:20am

    but cable cutting is still a fallacy

    because most of these so called "cutters" are just dropping cable tv service and trying to get all their shows from the same ISP via the net--hence the broadband rate hike. So instead of 2 or 3 inflated bills (tv, internet, phone), the "cutters" are down to just 1, but still to the same monopoly and still inflated. The ISPs will continue to get their money from us because most of us are still paying. To get true lower prices we have to have competition, and the quickest way to get competition is to BOYCOTT. Stop paying the ISPs for a few months and see if the exclusionary rules don't change.
    I'll keep beating the same drum: Boycott or bend over

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 18 Sep 2015 @ 9:52am

      Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

      Boycott what, internet access? I don't know how many people could actually do that these days, but I know I can't without losing my job. I agree competition would be great, but for many of us, what you are suggesting is simply not feasible anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        yodel, 18 Sep 2015 @ 6:35pm

        Re: Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

        Thank you.

        Sure I could drop my overpriced, sucky cable tv but then my internet service would go up $20 thus offsetting nearly 50% of the savings from dropping the tv package.

        Nice racket! Any other business would be prosecuted with RICO laws.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 10:17am

      Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

      "I'll keep beating the same drum: Boycott or bend over"

      You say that like it's a feasible thing to do. For many people, it's not. The only place I can get broadband service is from Comcast, so boycotting them means I have no more broadband internet at all. I cannot afford to be without broadband internet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        scatman09 (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 12:55pm

        Re: Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

        In the immortal words of Rocket: Boo Hoo Hoo
        The people in Selma who boycotted the local mass transit system didn't have a bunch of other ways to get to work during their protest, so guess what, they walked. Yeah, I'm sure it sucked, but it got the stupid Jim Crow laws repealed didn't it? No one wants to sweat. "We want our (fill in the blank), and we want it now!!" (but don't disconnect my internet access, don't cut my cable, don't taze me, bro).

        The whole point of a boycott is to be disruptive and uncomfortable for both sides until proper negotiation and redress occurs. It's just easier to complain though...

        Boycott or bend over

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2015 @ 9:46am

          Re: Re: Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

          You truly must be slow if the best you can come up with for a comparison is walking instead of taking the buss.

          What, you think people who use the internet for a living should start using snail mail? Dial up? Start walking the packets across the globe themselves?

          Yet another internet tough guy who doesn't understand boycotting doesn't work against mega corporations. The vast majority of their customers don't understand the issues at all, how the fuck do you suppose the people who do understand get the others to boycott?

          Oh, you don't have a plan? You're just a petulant child who saw some protests in your American History book so now your answer to everything is protest or boycott? K, gotcha!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 20 Sep 2015 @ 6:46am

          Re: Re: Re: but cable cutting is still a fallacy

          I understand your point, but if I am going to sacrifice my job to take a political stand, it will be for something a lot more important than cable prices.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 9:53am

    Internet pricing too: how do we 'cut this cord'?

    I was on plain old dial up internet access for almost 10 years and never once did I get a price increase. I finally took the plunge into 1.5 m cable access - NO bundle, just internet - and not even 10 years later I am now paying twice as much when I first signed up. No there has not been any increase in service; many of my speed tests even today max out at 75%, and uploading is CRAP! (TWO whole hours to upload a one minute 720x480 video to YouTube!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2015 @ 10:48am

    you keep raising prices until you have next to no customers left. Then you blame the customers instead of admitting you destroyed your company. Then you take your generous severance package and go to a new company and start the same practice of destroying that company in the quest for a higher salary through higher prices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2015 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      But there are no other companies. Once Comcast & Verizon burn themselves to the ground, we'll have basically infinite space for proper competition.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        teka, 20 Sep 2015 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re:

        When they burn they won't collapse into themselves in the way that a corner store or mom&pop restaurant would. There will be some magical financial events and debts, unpaid pensions and settlements will remain in the hands of the dead company while assets fly away like little birds to roost in a new company.

        These assets will cement the position of the new frankencorporation with some lip service to new restrictions that will disappear like fairy gold. A few unwanted areas will get sold off to small companies under complex payment schemes that cripple them and others will be shuffled and shuffled until they drop off the subscriber maps entirely while things like Universal Service Fund moneys keep flowing into the black hole coffers instead of into development.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Crapcast, 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Either way If or When these Companies fail, Our wonderful Government will use taxpayer money and bail them out. Lucky Us huh??

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric79, 20 Sep 2015 @ 3:19pm

    The Fox In Charge

    Cable companies are the fox in charge of the henhouse. As long as they provide the only option and put datacaps, you simply cannot progress with real competition.

    I live in Chicago, and yet my part of it, I can only get ATT DSL. Yes, Uverse and Comcast do not provide Internet to my section. Comcast does provide cable for for some reason both Comcast and ATT can't run the cables for Internet into my section of town.

    Woes is me, I guess, but only true competition will ever bring real reform. Google Fibre and such? Forget it, they will only cherry pick and offer it to places that need it the least.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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