Comcast CEO Admits You 'Can't Keep Raising Prices Forever,' But Seems Intent On Trying Anyway
from the self-inflicted-wound dept
As Internet video continues to slowly pick away at cable subscriber totals, most cable companies have absolutely refused to compete on price. Apparently, most of them intend to see just how long they can get
suckers cable TV customers to keep paying an arm and a leg for bloated bundles of mostly awful content, only actually competing on price when the problem of cord cutting hits critical mass. Until then, cable execs spend their time either pretending that cord cutting doesn’t exist, or proudly fooling themselves into thinking they still offer the best video content value in the streaming video and BitTorrent age.
Every so often a cable executive will pop up from milking the cable cash cow to pay a tiny bit of lip service to the idea of lower prices and more flexible cable bundles. The latest case in point is Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who this week at least acknowledged that the cable TV cash cow is not immortal:
“This conversation that is happening right now only is going to accelerate (cable adaptation). I do think on the other side, however, there is a realization that you can’t keep raising prices forever and [without] either having serious margin change or people saying ‘I’m going to live without some channels.’ I think you’re seeing that tension rise. I think these things have a way of correcting or balancing out before something draconian happens. I’m hopeful that is the case.”
Except the Internet video revolution isn’t going to magically “correct” itself or “balance out.” It’s going to swallow the cable industry piece by piece until it finally listens to consumers and starts offering better value and better customer service. And while cable TV customer defections are happening at a slow trickle right now (Comcast lost 69,000 subscribers last quarter), it’s only going to accelerate as the options improve. These losses will also start hitting Comcast’s voice subscriber totals as wireless service improves, digital voice becomes irrelevant, and Comcast customers look for ways to trim their bloated bills.
As Roberts was busy stating the obvious, many were quick to point out that Comcast’s busy imposing all manner of new TV and broadband price increases as is the cable industry’s proud fall tradition. Cable TV prices are rising, broadband prices are increasing, DVR, set top and cable modem prices are rising — and there’s always a new, obnoxious, below-the-line fee around the corner. And whether it’s set top boxes, net neutrality or last mile competition, Comcast works tirelessly to ensure this skyward price hike status quo remains firmly intact, all while offering the worst customer service in any industry.
So go ahead, cut your cable TV line; Comcast will just take its pound of flesh from your broadband bill via rate hikes, sneaky fees, usage caps and overage charges (or a new $30 fee if you want to avoid usage caps entirely). And because many of Comcast’s territories are actually becoming less competitive than ever as telcos exit unwanted DSL markets, there’s not much customers can do about it short of building their own community ISP.