In the new year, Comcast plans to fight cord cutting and compete with direct-to-consumer streaming video services by selling smaller TV packages – called Choice – priced between $10 and $20 per month, reports Cord Cutters News. The packages are part of the companys Comcast Vision 2020 plan. In addition to prepackaged bundles, customers will be able to design their own TV bundles which may include local TV channels. Equipment, such as internet routers and DVRs, and premium services like internet, home security and cell phone services, will cost extra, of course.
Along with these changes, Cord Cutters News says that Comcast will be limiting discounts and promotions for existing customers. This could reduce the number of current customers who call when their promotional pricing expires and ask for a continued discount. If customers want cheaper cable packages, they will have to sign up for Comcasts premium services for a pricing bundle.
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In addition to those changes, new pricing went into effect on December 18 on various packages and equipment. Cord Cutter News reports the following price increases on a sampling of items:
- Broadcast TV will increase from $10 a month to $14.95 a month, an annual increase of $59.40.
- Basic TV will go from $30 a month to $35 a month, an annual increase of $60.
- Most internet pricing will increase $3 per month, an annual increase of $36.
- Modem and voice equipment will increase from $1 a month to $14 a month, an annual increase of $156.
While the package and internet price increases are modest, the modem and voice equipment price hikes represent a substantial increase. However, customers who dont want to pay the increased cost can purchase their own equipment and return Comcasts equipment to a local store to avoid future charges. For a complete list of Comcast pricing, as of December 18, visit Comcast Store online.
The target market, of course, is cord cutters and streamers who are willing to pay for internet but who want to select the streaming services they watch (some paid services and some free, ad-supported options). While the $10 to $20 basic TV packages sound like a deal, by the time you add the internet costs and possible data overage costs, you may not really be getting a deal. In fact, you might be paying even more.
For example, Comcast/Xfinitys Performance Starter internet package is $53 per month. The next level up, Performance, is $73 per month. I used to have the Performance package, and I couldnt watch Netflix with any reliability and without constant buffering. I tried a WiFi extender and that didnt help. I had to visit my local Comcast store, upgrade my equipment and internet package (yes, they talked me into it) and use the Netflix and Amazon Prime apps through the Xfinity X-1 cable box to get good streaming quality with little to no buffering and pretty good reliability. It costs me about $60-70 more a month than I was previously paying, on top of my premium streaming subscriptions.
We understand that Comcast is trying to compete in a soon-to-become streaming-first marketplace, but their tactics seem counterintuitive and not particularly transparent. Wed like to see a marketing campaign accompany these changes that spells out exactly what customers get and what it will cost them with examples of what the average streamers will use. It should include a line-by-line explanation of products, services and their associated fees, so customers can make informed decisions.