One thing we’ve heard and will continue to hear over the next several months is that the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger will be an awesome deal for consumers because it will give the newly formed cable giant the ability to really invest in aggressive network upgrades. Writing at Bloomberg Businessweek, Brendan Greeley gives us some good reasons to treat this argument with a great deal of skepticism because we’ve largely let ISPs consolidate to their hearts’ content and it’s done us very little good. More →
Internet service providers are notoriously reluctant to build out faster services in rural parts of the United States — after all, building infrastructure is hard and it costs a lot of money. That’s why some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to build out their own high-speed networks for their citizens to use. However, ISPs aren’t happy that these small cities and towns are taking matters into their own hands, which is why they’re running to state legislatures and demanding special legislation that will help keep their slow services the only game in town. More →
Have you ever dropped a profane four-letter word when dealing with your cable or satellite TV provider? If so then you aren’t alone… in fact, you’re one of many thousands. Call analytics firm Marchex has done an exhaustive study detailing which companies’ customers are most likely to curse them out over the telephone and has found that satellite TV and cable TV providers rank first and third among all industries, respectively. In fact, Marchex found that satellite TV companies get cursed out in one out of every 81 calls while cable companies get cursed out in one out of every 123 calls. More →
While cord cutting isn’t yet a threat to cable companies’ profits, many in the industry can see where the market is headed and seem to understand that consumers aren’t as willing to pay for expensive bundles when they have cheaper alternatives in the form of Netflix and Hulu. According to Forbes‘ Dorothy Pomerantz, cable and telecom companies are considering adapting to this new world of online television by doing what had previously been unthinkable: Embracing cord cutting. More →
Is a la carte cable really a “farce” as 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey claims? Well we’re about to find out because our neighbors to the north are doing us the favor of giving it a try. Per The Hollywood Reporter, TV subscribers in Ontario this week will be able to buy channels a la carte from IPTV startup VMedia, whose UChoose Store will charge subscribers around $2.12 per month for each channel they subscribe to. Subscribers will also have the option of buying small bundles of 6 channels that will cost $1.65 each per month or 12 channels that will cost $1.41 each per month. More →
It seems that everyone hates cable bundles these days, including the creators of South Park who recently ridiculed cable companies as nipple-rubbing monopolist greedheads intent on shaking consumers down for every last dime. But there are two groups that still think bundles are terrific: The cable companies themselves and the entertainment studios that benefit from consumers subsidizing content they’ll never watch with their monthly cable bills. Multichannel reports that 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey recently lashed out at cable critics and said that bundles were good for most consumers even if they didn’t know it. More →
It’s no secret that most Americans really don’t like their Internet service providers and now Ars Technica has reached out to its reader base to get a better understanding of exactly why Americans hold their ISPs in such low esteem. What emerges, Ars finds, is consumers who are fed up with “high prices, data caps, absurd policies, and incompetence.” More →
Are you a cable TV subscriber who might be considering cutting the cord? Did you already take the leap and dump your TV service? Cable TV doesn’t want to see you go, and it wants you back if you’ve already left. And what better way to convey that message than with a nice little campaign put together by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the main trade association for cable operators in the U.S.
Behold: The Hole Saga. More →
Cable companies have shown no signs of concern over cord cutting so far and it’s easy to see why: Even customers who ditch their home video services will keep paying cable companies for broadband access. But TechHive notes that the cord cutting trend might finally be showing up on cable companies’ radars now that it’s growing to a more substantial size. A quick rundown of the numbers: Comcast has added 917,000 broadband subscribers this year but has lost 348,000 pay TV customers; Charter added 86,000 broadband subscribers but lost 27,000 pay TV subscribers; and Time Warner Cable saw its broadband subscriber numbers rise by 1.7% while seeing its pay TV subscriber numbers shrink by 6%. More →
Whenever you see an industry with high profits and low customer satisfaction ratings, it’s a good bet that it doesn’t face the same kinds of competitive pressures that most industries deal with on a regular basis. Such has certainly been the case with the cable industry, whose largest two vendors don’t even compete with one another in any major markets. And as Ars Technica reports, cable companies could dramatically boost their services’ speeds starting today if they wanted to… but they won’t because they aren’t facing any competitive pressure to do so in most markets. More →
As we’ve observed before, cable companies are not popular in the United States. Various surveys have shown that cable companies have even lower customer satisfaction ratings than airlines or that pay TV companies account for six of the seven worst-rated companies in the U.S. And now Light Reading has conducted a poll of its readers that shows what lots of other polls have shown in recent years: People still really don’t like their cable providers. More →
Cord-cutting has become even more of a headache for pay television providers over the past year. The Wall Street Journal points us to a new report from researchers at MoffettNathanson estimating that the pay TV industry lost 113,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2013, thus capping off what analyst Craig Moffett calls the “worst 12 month stretch ever” in the industry’s history. The biggest losers in this scenario were unsurprisingly the cable companies that have been reporting massive subscriber losses over the past year, highlighted by Time Warner Cable announcing that it lost a stunning 300,000 pay TV subscribers last quarter. Telcos such as Verizon and AT&T and satellite companies such as Dish have fared better and have reported upticks in market share even as the cable companies continue to bleed subscribers, MoffettNathanson finds.
Congress is America’s least-liked political institution but it could score some points with the public if it takes on one of America’s least-liked industries. The Washington Post reports that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., WV) has introduced new legislation aimed at reining in cable companies’ ability to dictate what consumers can watch and what channels they’re required to buy as part of their bundling packages. Among other things, the bill would bar cable companies from entering into deals with broadcasters to keep their live content from Netflix, Hulu and other digital streaming services; would shore up regulations against ISPs degrading competing video services’ traffic in favor of their own; and it would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to monitor broadband billing practices. More →