Traditional pay-TV operators are bleeding subscribers — and that’s not likely going to improve, as major U.S. cable and satellite providers are ringing in 2018 with price increases.
Comcast, AT&T’s DirecTV, Dish Network, and Charter Communications are among the operators that have notified customers about rate hikes set to go into effect in January for most TV packages. As usual, the providers have cited higher programming costs for jacking up their fees.
Comcast is hiking monthly rates for most bundles about $5. The X1 Starter Triple Play package will increase from $150 to $155 per month (3.3%), while the Premier Triple Play is going from $210 to $215 monthly (2.4%).
Dish is raising rates as of Jan. 16, 2018, with most programming packages set to increase by $3 per month in addition to a $2 monthly increase for local channels. The price of Dish’s “Smart Pack” will rise 7%, to $44.99 per month; America’s Top 200 will increase 6%, to $89.99; and America’s Everything Pack is increasing 3.4%, to $149.99. The company has detailed 2018 pricing in an update on its website; customers with promotional pricing won’t see their rates change until those offers expire.
“Dish and all other TV providers have had to accept significant price increases from programmers to carry their channels, particularly for local channels (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), which are driving the fastest-growing costs,” a rep for the satellite operator said. Dish breaks out the cost of local channels as a separate line item; that’s set to jump 20%, from $10 to $12 per month, in 2018.
DirecTV, in a notice on its customer-support site, said monthly rates will increase on Jan. 21, 2018, for all programming tiers starting with Select packages (unless customers currently have discounted promo pricing).
DirecTV’s Select package will go up $2 per month (up 2.6% over current standard pricing of $76 per month); while Entertainment is increasing $3 (3.4%); Choice will be $4 higher (4%); Xtra will rise $7 (6.4%); and Ultimate and Premier tiers will increase $8 (6.7% and 4.6%, respectively).
Charter, which markets services under the Spectrum brand, also is hiking rates in January, according to user posts on DSLReports. For example, in Lexington, Ky. — a market formerly served by Time Warner Cable, which is now owned by Charter — the “Good Triple Play Premium” bundle will increase 7.8%, from $129 to $139 per month; the “Better Triple Play Plus” will increase 6.7%, from $149 to $159; and the “Best Triple Play Plus” will increase 5.9%, from $169 to $179.
Cable operator Cox Communications, meanwhile, will raise rates Jan. 7, with increases of 2.5%-6% depending on service package.
As cable and satellite TV rates continue rising, customers are switching to lower-cost, over-the-top internet TV services — or cutting the cord altogether.
In the third quarter of 2017, traditional cable and satellite TV operators shed a collective 872,000 subs, representing a 3.1% year-over-year decline for the segment, per estimates by analyst firm MoffettNathanson. Overall, the U.S. pay-TV universe actually gained net 90,000 customers in Q3 when factoring in growth of “over-the-top” internet TV services like Dish’s Sling TV and DirecTV Now. However, those packages strip out many networks and are priced less than traditional pay-TV bundles.