March 4, 2024

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Comcast raises prices for TV packages, internet-only plans

As if inflation and higher utility bills weren’t enough, Comcast is raising TV and internet prices starting in late December.

Tens of millions of Xfinity cable customers will see their bills rise 3% nationwide, on average, a company spokesperson said Tuesday. Customers in Philadelphia have received notices that price increases will start Dec. 20.

The Philadelphia cable giant is increasing prices for some TV packages. The increases don’t affect promotional prices, which are locked in during the promotional period. But even if your promotion hasn’t expired, you’ll likely still pay more for TV service next month. That’s because Comcast is again hiking fees for broadcast television, local sports, cable boxes, and remotes — charges that are often just a few bucks more but together drive up the overall bill.

And as consumers increasingly rely on internet connections to work and study from home, Comcast is raising prices for broadband plans, too.

Two fees, in particular, have skyrocketed in recent years. The broadcast TV fee, a monthly charge for NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, was $5 in 2016. Comcast will soon charge Philadelphians $19.15 a month, a 17.5% increase from the current charge of $16.30, according to a notice on customer cable bills.

The regional sports fee, the monthly charge for networks such as NBC Sports Philadelphia, was $3 in 2016. Under the new prices, Comcast will bill $12.70, up nearly 21% from the $10.50 charged today.

Comcast cited rising programming costs to carry content from local network affiliates and other broadcasters. Programming costs increased 7.6% during the last quarter, the company reported in October, and have doubled since 2006, from $5.5 billion to $13.5 billion in 2020.

The company says that it absorbs some of those costs but that the rest are passed on to consumers. In the most recent quarter, Comcast’s cable division — which includes TV, internet, and phone services — reported an adjusted operating profit margin of nearly 44% before nonoperational costs such as taxes and interest expenses. That doesn’t include capital expenditures either.

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“Content providers continue to increase the costs they charge us to carry their content, with broadcast TV and sports being the biggest drivers of price increases,” Comcast spokesperson Jenni Moyer said in a statement. “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.”

Comcast — and the cable industry — isn’t alone in raising prices for live TV. In the last year, providers including AT&T and Sling TV have raised their monthly rates, too.

Not all Xfinity price increases are for TV programming. Even “cord cutters” who fled pay TV will pay more for internet-only plans.

For example, Comcast will raise the cost of its “Gigabit” plan — with download speeds of up to 1,200 megabits per second (mbps) and upload speeds of 35 mbps — to $113.95, about 2.7% higher than the current $110.95. Cheaper plans are similarly increasing by $3 per month. On the low end, the “Performance” plan (100 mbps download and 5 mbps upload) is increasing 3.7% from $80.95 to $83.95.

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The company has invested more than $15 billion in its network in the last three years, according to its website. And Comcast has noted it repeatedly increased internet speeds in recent years and launched services such as xFi, which lets customers manage their home networks, and Xfinity Flex, a Roku-like device that aggregates streaming services.

Comcast is also increasing fees to rent its equipment. For example, it will cost you an extra buck a month to use TV boxes and remotes, from $7.50 to $8.50.

Comcast’s third-quarter profits doubled to $4 billion. Its cable unit now has 34 million customers.