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Cable to Customers: Blame Hikes on Retrans, Sports Fees

Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications are blaming retransmission consent and sports rights for hikes to monthly cable rates.

Comcast increased the average Broadcast TV fee nearly 50% to $14.95 per month from $10 starting Dec. 18, all tied to increases in the fees the distributor pays for retrans to broadcasters and for sports programming on channels like ESPN. Rates for Basic TV (local networks, public, educational and government channels, basic DVR service) will rise $5, to $35 per month. Internet service goes up $3 for most plans.

Overall, most Comcast customers will see bills rise by about 3.3% — a weighted average based on subscribers with one to three products — versus 3.4% last year.

“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,” Comcast said. “While we absorb some of the increased programming costs, they have a significant impact on the cost of our services. We’re giving customers more choices and better value in all of our products including X1, xFi, Stream, and now Flex, the only free streaming TV device with voice remote that’s included with broadband service.”

At Cox, customers have been receiving notices that their average video bill will rise by about $4 per month beginning in December, including $3.50 more for Broadcast TV. “We know that any bill increase can have an impact, and we’re committed to helping our customers however we can,” Cox said.

Charter began affecting rate increases for Spectrum cable in November, with the three top video packages rising by about $7.50 per month, according to reports. It raised the Broadcast TV fee to $13.50 from $11.99 per month.