Comcast N.E.: Come Back for $69

Waltham, Mass. -- Comcast Corp.’s New England division is slashing its monthly rate for a bundle of basic-video, high-speed-Internet and telephone service to just $69 per month for subscribers who have bolted to DirecTV Inc., RCN Corp. and other rivals.

“Our goal is to win that household back, not just for one product -- it’s for all of the products,” Comcast New England marketing-strategy manager for acquisition Richard Hand said here Thursday following a Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing panel session on combating competition.

Comcast is only making the offer to subscribers who have disconnected service. The $69 triple play will only include 20 basic-cable channels; local over-the-air broadcast channels; public, government and educational channels; and Comcast-owned regional channels CN8: The Comcast Network and New England Cable News.

The package also includes a 6-megabit-per-second Internet connection and unlimited local, regional and national phone calls.

The goal is to eventually entice consumers who return to Comcast at the steeply discounted rate to upgrade to digital-cable and premium-programming packages, according to Comcast New England northern division vice president of marketing strategy Karen Breen.

Subscribers who opt for the package won’t receive set-tops. In order to upgrade to premium channels or video-on-demand programming, they’ll have to order digital set-tops, the MSO said.

Comcast faces stiff competition in New England not only from satellite services such as DirecTV and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network, but from cable overbuilder RCN and a new pay TV entrant, telephone company Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon won franchises in several New England communities, including Lynnfield, Reading and Woburn, Mass.

Comcast New England also runs a satellite-dish buy-back program in which it offers DirecTV and Dish customers $400 in programming credits if they agree to turn their satellite dishes over to Comcast and sign up for cable.

For more on Comcast New England’s win-back efforts, please see Steve Donohue’s story on page two of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.