Five on Friday: Price Hikes, Antitrust Scrutiny and Subscription Jobs

Featuring Comcast, AT&T, FCC, Facebook, Google, Peloton and LinkedIn

While consumers are busy doing their holiday shopping online, companies are busy planning for 2021, including Comcast and AT&T who have announced price hikes for next year. Also, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the man largely responsible for the end of net neutrality, is resigning January 20, while the DOJ is looking more closely at Facebook and Google for alleged antitrust violations. Charges could come in January, sources say. Also, Antenna raises $4.2 million in seed funding, while LinkedIn shares top subscription jobs with our readers.

Comcast and AT&T to Hike Prices in January

Starting January 1, Comcast is increasing prices for its cable TV and internet services, reports Ars Technica. Comcast cites increased programming costs as the reason for the price hikes. Comcast cable TV customers will pay $4.50 a month for a broadcast fee and $2 per month to cover the Regional Sports Network fee. Those who have cut the cord and only have internet through Comcast aren’t getting off the hook. Internet-only packages which range in price from $53 to $113 per month will increase $3 per month. Professional installations and in-home service calls will go up $30 from $70 to $100.

“Rising programming costs—most notably for broadcast TV and sports—continue to be the biggest factors driving price increases for all content distributors and their customers, not just Comcast. We’re continuing to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our network to provide the best, most reliable broadband service in the country and the flexibility to choose our industry-leading video platform with X1 or the highest quality streaming product with Flex, the only free streaming TV device with voice remote that’s included with broadband service,” said Comcast in a statement.

Comcast, who is the largest cable and broadcast provider in the U.S., will also be expanding its 1.2TB monthly data gape to additional markets including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, starting in January.

Customers who exceed their data cap each month will be charged a penalty for the overages, says Ars Technica – $10 for each additional block of 50GB up to $100 maximum per month. To avoid the cap, customers can pay an extra $30 per month for unlimited data or $25 for the xFi Complete plan which includes unlimited data plus the rental cost of the xFi gateway modem and router. According to Comcast, only a small number of “super users” exceed the cap.

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AT&T also announced price changes to its DIRECTV and U-verse TV packages, starting January 17, 2021. The company said there are adjusted the price of video packages because the cost of programming has increased. Those who have promotional offers will keep their discounts until the promotion expires. At that time, their TV packages will revert to current pricing.

Those with minimum DIRECTV service or Family and ChineseDirect Plus packages will not see a price increase. DIRECTV customers with any other package will see price increases ranging from $1 per month to $9 per month. In addition, instead of charging a federal cost recovery fee annually, DIRECTV will charge customers $0.19 monthly. This fee covers regulatory fees that DIRECTV pays to the Federal Communications Commission.

In an interesting twist, DIRECTV is lowering the price of STARZ, CINEMAX and SHOWTIME by $3 a month. Other packages, including premium bundles, will see minor increases and decreases as well. See all of the pricing changes at ATT.com.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to Resign in January

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, will be leaving his post on January 20 when President-Elect Joe Biden takes office, reports Recode/Vox. Pai has been known for supporting the Republican agenda and business deregulation, particularly the FCC’s overturning of net neutrality which he said was a heavy-handed and unnecessary regulation. Net neutrality was put into effect during the Obama administration and overturned by the FCC in 2017.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years. I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 20212, and to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege,” said Pai in a statement.

Pai could have remained until the end of his term, typically, chairs leave their agencies when a new administration takes office. An independent agency, the FCC has five commissioners who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three commissioners can represent one political party.

DOJ Examines Antitrust Behavior of Facebook and Google

DOJ Examines Antitrust Behavior of Facebook and Google

The Department of Justice continues to investigate Facebook and Google, and the DOJ is expected to file charges against them by the end of January, reports the Wall Street Journal. Last month, the DOJ filed a civil lawsuit against Google for anticompetitive behavior in their general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising practices.

Attorneys general from 11 states joined the antitrust lawsuit – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas on behalf of their citizens and economies in their respective states. The purpose of the civil action is to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for the sake of consumers, advertisers and all companies who rely on the internet economy.

Facebook is under scrutiny for using its power to dominate social media. A lawsuit against Facebook by federal and state governments would be the first of its kind in the United States. Among the concerns over Facebook are its content moderation policies. Facebook has said it supports free speech, but it will limit hate speech and harmful content. Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized their actions and, in some cases, lack of action.

The European Commission, the entity responsible for antitrust matters in the European Union, has similar concerns with Amazon’s dominance of the ecommerce marketplace. Focused on Amazon’s activities in France and Germany, an EU investigation of millions of transactions and products determined that the e-commerce retailer uses data from third-party sellers on its platform in determining which products to launch and how to price and market them. The European Commission launched its formal investigation into possible antitrust violations in July 2019; they have now filed formal charges against Amazon.

The tech giants reject the DOJ’s claims and those of other governments and agencies, saying the online marketplace is full of competitors and consumers are free to choose who they do business with. In October, in response to the DOJ’s civil suit against them, Google said the action was “deeply flawed.”

“We understand that with our success comes scrutiny, but we stand by our position. American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favor of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want. We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law,” said Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs for Google, in a blog post.

ANTENNA Raises $4.2 Million in Seed Funding

ANTENNA, a subscription measurement and analytics startup that launched in February, has raised $4.2 million seed funding, in a round led by Raine Ventures. ANTENNA plans to use this funding to launch online client tools, expand into new subscription categories (e.g., gaming, audio, publishing, health and wellness, education), develop solutions that analyze how content and advertising drive subscriptions, and expand the ANTENNA team.

ANTENNA made the announcement Wednesday in a newsletter.

“We publicly launched ANTENNA in February, and a few weeks later… well, you know what happened. While I had built my first startup, BuzzMetrics, in the depths of the dot com bust, I never could have foreseen this!  But our amazingly talented and dedicated team has delivered a spectacular first couple of quarters, in spite of the circumstances.  We have made great progress in establishing ANTENNA’s brand and awareness in the industry, and are approaching a dozen clients, a six figure MRR, and have an awesome pipeline of opportunity,” said ANTENNA co-founder and chairman Jonathan Carson.

Gordon Rubenstein, managing partner, at Raine Ventures commented on his firm’s investment.

“ANTENNA’s measurement data is unrivaled in the market, and in a short time, the company has become the new industry standard in subscription data. Any modern subscription business would benefit from ANTENNA’s insights,” Rubenstein said.

Carson and co-founder and CEO Rameez Tase started ANTENNA to address the fundamental shift that is occurring in the streaming video world. In the past, metrics were based primarily on viewership. However, the subscription world is changing, particularly in media as companies begin unbundling their offerings, and they change their business models (e.g., doing away with free trials).

To be successful in an evolving marketplace, subscription companies need to focus on purchase behavior, subscription growth, churn, retention, switching, and customer value metrics and compare that data with their competitors. This has grown beyond streaming video, and ANTENNA’s seed funding will help them expand into other areas.

LinkedIn: top subscription jobs

Top Subscription Jobs

Senior Content Manager – Noggin
Nickelodeon
New York, NY

We are looking for a Senior Content Manager who will be responsible for writing/editing content and running our social media. The Senior Content Manager will work with key partners to develop clear and effective content for a variety of audiences and channels. This role will be based out of our NYC office and will report to the Director, Audience Development of Noggin. Responsibilities include content writing, social media, etc. Read more.

Creative Director, Services
Apple
Culver City, CA

We are seeking a conceptual creative director to work in a team responsible for developing global multi-platform marketing campaigns and/or content for Apple Services which includes Apple Music, Arcade, News, TV and more! We conceptualize and create the promotional campaigns and/or content across media and platforms. You will be required to maintain positive relationships with internal and external partners, as well as ensuring that work delivers against Apple standards. Read more.

Growth Marketing – Marketing ROI
Microsoft
Redmond, WA

Microsoft Modern Life Marketing organization is looking for a creative, hands-on and mission-driven Growth marketer to maximize Windows lifecycle contributions to Microsoft’s larger consumer growth. This role will help define and execute growth across all lifecycle activities rising to better understand Windows customers, insights and how best to serve them across Microsoft’s consumer offerings including Microsoft 365, One Drive, Teams, Xbox Game Pass, and many more. Read more.

SaaS Product Marketing Manager
Jobot
New York, NY

Our Product Marketing Manager will be responsible for defining and executing our product go-to-market strategy. We’re looking for someone who can become an expert in our industry with a keen understanding how buyers make purchase decisions and the specific needs of our customers. You’ll help make complex product concepts simple, create messaging that clearly explains our value using our customers’ native language, and identify opportunities for differentiation. Your work will transform our position in the industry through improved messaging, go-to-market strategy, and product prioritization. Read more.

Senior Marketing Manager, AMU Retention
Amazon
Santa Monica, CA

We are looking for a highly creative, analytical and results-oriented Lifecycle Marketing Manager to help conceive, build and launch new initiatives to drive retention of our Amazon Music Unlimited paid-tier customers globally, working across Amazon teams, influencing and leading partners to think big, invent and simplify, and deliver on project roadmaps. This role is part of the Engagement Marketing team responsible for providing a best-in-class customer experience across multiple platforms and services for Amazon Music. Read more.