A hot potato: Annual rate increases for cable providers are nothing new, but sometimes the excuses the companies provide for the hikes create more animosity than they alleviate. It is especially frustrating when the increases are to compensate for a perk advertised as "free." Comcast is notoriously bad at explaining away fees, and the latest involving its new streaming service is no exception.
Comcast customers should see a rise in their bills once the Peacock streaming service goes live, if they haven't already. The internet TV channel enters early access on April 15, along with a rate hike.
The extra costs will not be readily evident to new customers as the rate increases mostly appear as hidden fees. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, the broadcast television fee added to monthly bills on top of subscription rates will go up by $4.45. Internet rates and modem rental fees will also be increased by $3 and $1, respectively.
For some customers, these price hikes have already taken effect as the company began the gradual squeeze in December. All totaled, subscriptions should increase by about 3.6 percent for most subscribers, whether they use Peacock or not.
"We needed to pivot the whole company to the streaming world, and I think what's exciting is how well our cable company has done that," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told CNBC. "Peacock will go right back for the advertisers and get you in a growing market, taking advantage of streaming with a free product as well. Cable customers will get it for free, whether you are video or broadband."
"Free product" indeed, if you do not include the rate hike. The cable giant justifies the increases claiming that programmers are to blame and that it bears most of the burden bringing customers these services.
"Comcast is fighting as hard as we can to protect our customers from unrelenting demands for higher fees from programmers," a spokesperson said in a statement last December regarding the bump. "While we absorb some of the increased programming costs, they have a significant impact on the cost of our services."
The excuse falls somewhat flat since NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast. So it would seem that the company is "unrelenting" in demanding higher fees from itself, at least in this case.
Some customers may see the hike as a slap in the face since the "free" version of Peacock will be supported by ads, and the "Premium" tier will come with a $5 subscription cost.
The premium Peacock service will still have ads but will have about double the content as the free package. A third ad-free tier will cost subscribers $10 per month.
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