Comcast customers’ cable and internet bills to increase by an average of 3.8% going into 2023

Many of Comcast’s cable TV and Internet customers can expect bill increases starting in December as the company makes pricing changes it says are necessary to cover increased regional broadcast and sports fees.

The broadcast television fee is a monthly payment for ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. The regional sports fee covers networks like NBC Sports Philadelphia, giving Philadelphia subscribers access to 76ers, Flyers and Phillies games that aren’t televised nationally.

In the Philadelphia market, the broadcast TV fee will increase by 11.2% from $19.15 to $21.30 per month. Last year it grew by 17.5%, compared to $16.30. The Philadelphia regional sports network’s fee will climb 65 cents from $12.70 to $13.35, an increase of more than 5 percent. Last year, that fee rose 21% from $10.50 to $12.70.

The monthly cost to rent a modem will increase by $1, from $14 to $15. Also, most Comcast Internet packages will increase, on average, by $3.05 per month, except for customers who have promotional packages and those who sign up for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. The low-income Internet service has remained steady at $9.95 a month since it launched more than a decade ago.

The increases will appear in the billing cycle that begins in the second half of December, when Comcast typically raises its rates each year.

Some parts of the country that Comcast serves will see much higher increases in cable TV fees.

Officials in Taunton, Mass., have been notified that broadcast television fees there will increase by $7.35 a month to $26. And in Sandown, New Hampshire, a letter sent by Comcast showed an increase in the TV broadcast fee from $24.95 a month to $27.25 a month effective Dec. 20.

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On average, nationally, Comcast customers will see their combined cable and Internet bills increase by 3.8%. This is higher than the average increase of 3% towards 2022.

“Our national average increase of 3.8 percent is about half the recent rate of inflation,” Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said Friday.

The fees stations charge Comcast to be included in its cable systems have nearly tripled since 2006, the company said.

“Television networks and other video programmers continue to raise their prices, with broadcast television and sports being the biggest drivers of increases in customer accounts,” Bilotta said. “We continue to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our broadband network to provide the best and most reliable Internet service in the country and to give our customers more low-cost video and connectivity options so they can find a package that fits their lifestyle and budget.”

Access to NBC Sports Philadelphia has long been a selling point for Comcast, and to get it, customers have to sign up for one of the company’s higher-end packages. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Comcast is negotiating streaming rights deals with teams and leagues to make regional sports networks available to subscribers of Peacock, the streaming service of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast.

An NBCUniversal spokesman confirmed Friday that discussions are underway with partners and rights holders to make NBC’s regional sports networks available on Peacock in 2023. Information on specific markets, fare, pricing and tiers is not yet available.

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Comcast has struggled in recent years with cord cutters, reporting a loss of 561,000 video customers in its third-quarter earnings report in October, with a net loss of 1.6 million video customers for the nine months ended Sept. 30.

In Comcast’s second-quarter earnings report this year, the Philadelphia-based company also noted that it failed to gain residential broadband customers for the first time ever. Comcast is the largest Internet provider in the United States, with approximately 29.8 million residential Internet customers and 2.3 million business broadband customers. In its third quarter report, Comcast reported a gain of 14,000 broadband customers.

Customers’ rising Comcast bills also reflect the steady trend of losing video customers.

On the earnings call in late October, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and President and CFO Michael Cavanaugh both said the company is focused on increasing revenue per user, through a combination of rate increases and the way the company’s tiered packages are structured for broadband customers.

Comcast stated that “no one is immune” from increases in the cost of television programs, which are passed on to consumers. The company said that Hulu+ LiveTV and DirecTV Stream have each increased in price by about 75% since 2019, while the direct-to-consumer streaming services have increased by an average of 28%.

Comcast has also invested nearly $20 billion over the past five years to improve its network with faster Internet speeds, WiFi and new technology in homes.

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Last December, Comcast abandoned a plan that would have added a monthly data cap of 1.2 terabytes to home Internet users in 14 states in the Northeast and Washington, D.C. per month. Data caps like this are already in place in 27 states across Comcast’s Midwest and Midwest divisions. The caps were originally set at 1 terabyte, but were suspended during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic before increasing to 1.2 terabytes.

Home Internet use has risen sharply in the past decade, driven by subscription video services, such as Netflix, and the bandwidth demands of online gaming. Average monthly usage in the US has risen from about 9 gigabytes in 2010 to an estimated 344 gigabytes in 2020 and continues to rise.

Before canceling the plan in the Northeast, Comcast said 1.2 TB would be enough for 21,600 hours of non-stop music, 500 hours of HD TV streaming, 34,000 hours of online gaming and 3,500 hours of video chat. The company abandoned the plan amid backlash from local governments, including a call for an investigation into price gouging by the Baltimore City Council. Lawmakers in Massachusetts are also considering legislation that would ban usage-based billing during public health emergencies.

Roberts noted in October that monthly Internet usage is climbing even among Comcast broadband customers who don’t subscribe to cable TV packages.

“On average, our broadband customers who don’t subscribe to traditional video from us already use nearly 650 gigabytes of data per month, and that’s just today,” Roberts said.

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