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YouTube TV Gets Turner Networks and More Sports Channels… and a $5 Price Hike

Phillip Dampier February 14, 2018 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV No Comments

YouTube TV is adding seven new basic cable networks owned by Time Warner/Turner Broadcasting to its lineup along with NBA TV and the MLB Network.

The new TW/Turner Network channels — TNT, TBS, CNN, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies, along with more sports programming, will also mean a $5 a month rate hike for the streaming service, effective March 13.

Existing YouTube TV customers and those signing up before the rate increase takes effect will be spared the price increase, paying $35 a month for the service instead of the $40 rate charged new customers next month.

YouTube TV has focused much of its attention in the last year on getting local broadcast stations on its lineup, and now has a complete assortment of NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX affiliates in dozens of TV markets. One of the reasons cord-cutters are reluctant to cancel their cable subscription is the loss of local stations, but YouTube TV has managed to overcome that roadblock for many subscribers.

The service has spent much of its annual budget on sports channels, which are usually the most costly basic cable networks. The addition of Time Warner, Inc./Turner Broadcasting cable networks came as a result of subscriber demand. Time Warner, fighting the Department of Justice over its proposed acquisition by AT&T, will likely use the new agreement as additional evidence the company is not withholding popular cable programming from AT&T’s competitors.

YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial, after which subscribers are charged $35 a month. If interested in the service, now is the time to subscribe before it costs $60 more a year.

Cablevision, Suddenlink Will Bail Out Altice’s Struggling European Business

Phillip Dampier January 11, 2018 Altice NV, Cablevision, Competition, Consumer News, Suddenlink No Comments

Altice’s American cable companies will help bail out the parent company’s struggling French operations.

Cablevision and Suddenlink are coming to the rescue of their parent company Altice in a deal that will transfer $1.5 billion from the two American cable operators to help bail out its struggling European operation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Founding shareholder Patrick Drahi is splitting his U.S. cable operations away from Altice NV, spinning them off into a new publicly traded company known as Altice USA. But Drahi has also ordered the new U.S. company to pay a one time $1.5 billion dividend, most of which will end up in the bank account of Altice NV to help the parent company reduce its leveraged debts that have been largely responsible for its falling stock price.

While Cablevision and Suddenlink customers can look forward to additional rate increases, shareholders of Altice USA are being enticed to invest with sweeteners including an unexpected dividend payout and a sudden decision by Drahi to forego his usual management fee charged to companies he acquires to acquaint them with the “Altice Way” of doing business. That fee can amount to an initial $30 million payment plus an ongoing percentage (usually 2-3%) of a Drahi-acquired company’s future revenue.

Altice USA believes it can afford the bailout thanks to President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. In addition to using $2 billion of anticipated savings to pay for share buybacks, Altice USA hopes to quickly recoup an additional $1.5 billion from reduced taxes and revenue increases it will earn from customer rate hikes and new broadband customers.

Altice NV, soon to be renamed Altice Europe, was a veritable disaster financially — called the “worst large-cap performer in Europe” in 2017. At the center of Altice’s European operations remains the dismally performing SFR-Numericable, the French wireless and cable company. After Drahi acquired the company, he slashed costs and investments and threatened to lay off one-third of its workforce. Service deteriorated and customers canceled in droves. Investors starting selling their Altice shares around Halloween of 2017, after watching Mr. Drahi pile on unprecedented debt and become convinced Drahi’s highly leveraged company could not succeed.

The Wall Street Journal cautioned potential investors in Altice USA that the new venture will gladly take your money, but give shareholders almost no say in how it will be governed. Drahi has engineered his continued dominance of the new entity with control of at least 51% of voting rights.

Wall Street analysts are largely positive about the deal, noting Altice USA won’t be attached to Altice’s European money troubles and the company will have the ability to extract revenue from its customers with ongoing rate increases.

Dish and DirecTV Join the 2018 Rate Hike Parade

Phillip Dampier December 28, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Dish Network 1 Comment

Satellite dish customers relying on Dish Networks or DirecTV for cable programming will need to open their wallets wider in 2018 to cover rate increases at both providers.


“On behalf of all of us at Dish, thank you for your business. You have asked us to be honest and upfront with changes to your account, and that is why we are writing you,” the satellite company wrote on its website.

Effective Jan. 16, 2018, broad rate hikes of about $3 a month for cable networks and $2 a month for local channels will take effect. Dish’s “Smart Pack” will increase by 7% to $44.99 a month, America’s Top 200 rises 6% to $89.99 and America’s Everything gets a 3.4% boost to $149.99 a month. Customers on a promotion will not see the rate hike until their offer expires.

The biggest rate increase by percentage applies to local stations, where most will see a 20% rate hike from $10 to $12 a month.

Dish has published its 2018 rate card on its website, detailing the price hikes.

Package Core Programming Local Channels Total
Welcome Pack $22.99 Included $22.99
Smart Pack $32.99 $12.00 $44.99
DISH America $47.99 $12.00 $59.99
America’s Top 120 $62.99 $12.00 $74.99
America’s Top 120 Plus $67.99 $12.00 $79.99
America’s Top 200 $77.99 $12.00 $89.99
America’s Top 250 $87.99 $12.00 $99.99
America’s Everything Pack $137.99 $12.00 $149.99

Spanish/Latino Packages

Package Core Programming Local Channels Total
DishLATINO Basico $34.99 Included $34.99
DishLATINO Clásico $37.99 $12.00 $49.99
DishLATINO Plus $44.99 $12.00 $56.99
DishLATINO Dos $62.99 $12.00 $74.99
DishLATINO Max $74.99 $12.00 $86.99

Channel Packs

Package Price
Locals Pack $12.00
National Action Pack $12.00
Regional Action Pack $12.00
News Pack $10.00
Kids Pack $10.00
Latino Bonus $10.00
Variety Pack $6.00
Heartland Pack $6.00
SiriusXM Pack $6.00
Outdoor Pack $4.00


DirecTV rates will rise effective Jan. 21, 2018 according to its website. The increase is blamed on programming costs. Customers on a promotion will not see the rate increase until that promotion expires. But AT&T, which owns DirecTV, also warns customers if they change their current base package, their promotion will end immediately and the new, higher rates apply.

DIRECTV Packages Monthly Price Increase
Minimum Service
DIRECTV Español Monthly Price Increase
ChineseDirect Plus $0

Regional Sports Network and Outdoor Channel pricing adjustments for DIRECTV

Service Monthly price increase
Regional Sports Network Tier 1 $0.00
Regional Sports Network Tier 2 $0.70
Regional Sports Network Tier 3 $0.81
Regional Sports Network Tier 4 $0.20
Regional Sports Network Tier 5 $1.00
Outdoor Channel $1.49

Charter’s “Merger Benefit” for 2018: Sweeping Rate Hikes for Ex-Time Warner, Bright House Customers

Phillip Dampier December 27, 2017 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 7 Comments

Charter Communications cable TV customers will soon see sweeping rate increases on their cable bills as the cable company announces its 2018 “rate adjustments” that will begin to take effect as early as next month in some markets.

For many customers, it is the second substantial rate increase in a year. Among the most notable are a dramatic hike in equipment rental costs and surcharges.

As Charter Communications took control of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks and introduced Spectrum packages and pricing in 2016 and 2017, company spokesman Justin Venech promised that Spectrum packages were “a better value” for customers, in part because equipment rental fees were substantially lower. But the gap between what Time Warner Cable charged in early 2016 and what Spectrum customers will pay in 2018 is quickly narrowing.

In early 2017, a Spectrum set-top box was priced at $4.99 a month. In mid-2017, the company raised the price to $5.99 a month and starting next month, that rental price is increasing to $6.99 a month per box. Other equipment is getting more costly as well. Time Warner Cable introduced digital transport adapters (DTAs) for secondary analog television sets at $0.99 a month. In 2018, that equipment will cost $4.99 a month. DVR service also increases $1 to $12.99 a month.

Spectrum’s original bundled TV, phone and internet packages — Select, Silver, and Gold were priced at $109.94, $129.94, and $149 a month respectively in 2016, according to the Orange County Register. Los Angeles was among the first markets in the country to obtain new Spectrum packages and pricing in the fall of 2016. Just 15 months later, customers can now expect to pay rates starting at $139.99 for Select, $159.99 for Silver, and $179.99 for Gold.

The company’s hated Broadcast TV Surcharge, which applies to all promotional and regular-priced television packages is also being hiked from $7.50 a month to $8.85.

Among the first markets to see the 2018 rate hike is Lexington, Ky.,  which has had a year-long running battle with Charter Communications.

The mayor is not happy.

“I’m outraged,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “This is the second rate hike for Spectrum’s cable subscribers in a single year. And considering Spectrum’s record of poor customer service, it just confirms my decision to bring competition and more options to Lexington for cable TV services along with high-speed internet.”

Lexington residents will soon have a third option for cable service in addition to Spectrum, AT&T or CenturyLink: MetroNet — which promises to wire the city with fiber to the home service over the next 3-4 years.

Prices for internet and phone service are unchanged for now, but Charter has often announced rate hikes for those services later in the year, so do not expect rates to remain unchanged throughout 2018.

Spectrum 2018 Cable TV Rate Increases

  • Limited Basic TV service: Current price: $15 New Price: $20
  • Expanded Basic TV service: Current price: $54.99 New Price: $49.99
  • Spectrum Receiver: Current price: $5.99 New Price: $6.99
  • Broadcast TV Surcharge: Current price: $7.50 New Price: $8.85
  • DTA: Current price: $4.00 New Price: $4.99
  • Single DVR Service: Current price: $11.99 New Price: $12.99
  • Sports Pass: Current price: $10.00 New Price: $12.00
  • Movie Pass: Current price: $10.00 New Price: $12.00
  • Triple Play Select: Current price: $129.99 New Price: $139.99
  • Triple Play Silver: Current price: $149.99 New price: $159.99
  • Triple Play Gold: Current price: $169.99 New Price: $179.99

Happy Holidays 2018 Rate Hike from Cox

Phillip Dampier December 13, 2017 Consumer News, Cox 1 Comment

Cox Communications, which spent much of 2017 implementing data caps and overlimit fees on its broadband customers, is back for more with plans for sweeping rate increases that take effect Jan. 7, 2018.

According to a bill notification received by a DSL Reports reader, a long list of video packages will increase from $1-5 a month, with lower amounts for slimmed down TV packages and higher increases for Contour TV packages. Cox will collect even more from a big boost to its Broadcast TV Surcharge, rising from $4 a month to $7.50. Only one channel — Playboy — will see a significant rate cut (from $19.95 to $15.99).

Cox TV Package Rate Increases (effective Jan. 7, 2018)

Flex Watch will change from $40.00 to $41.00.
TV Economy will change from $34.99 to $38.00.
TV Essential will change from $75.99 to $79.99.
Contour TV will change from $79.99 to $84.99.
Contour TV Ultimate will change from $161.99 to 166.99.
Contour TV Preferred will change from $91.99 to $96.99.
Contour TV Premier will change from $105.99 to $108.99.
Advanced TV Ultimate will change from $158.99 to $161.99.
Advanced TV Ultimate with 4 Premiums will change from $167.99 to $170.99.
Advanced TV Ultimate with 4 Premiums and Record 6 DVR will change from $165.99 to $168.99.
Paquete Latino will change from $35.00 to $36.00.
El Mix will change from $52.49 to $53.49.
Super Mix will change from $89.99 to $94.99.
Flex Watch Latino will change from $13.51 to $14.51.
TV Economy Latino will change from $44.99 to $48.00.
Contour TV Latino will change from $89.99 to $94.99.
Contour TV Latino Preferred will change from $101.99 to $106.99.
Contour TV Latino Ultimate will change from $175.99 to $178.99.
Entertainment Package with 3 Premiums will change from $138.24 to $143.24.
Entertainment Package with 4 Premiums will change from $149.74 to $154.74.
CableCARD will change from $2.00 to $2.99.
Playboy will change from $19.95 to $15.99.
The Broadcast Surcharge will change from $4.00 to $7.50.

Substantial rate hikes are also forthcoming for Cox’s internet packages, rising $2-4 a month when bundled with at least one other service.

Cox High Speed Internet Rate Increases

Starter will change from $34.99 to $36.99.
Essential will change from $52.99 to $55.99.
Preferred will change from $67.99 to $71.99.
Preferred 100 will change from $72.99 to $76.99.
Premier will change from $79.99 to $82.99.

Cox is also risking losing customers for its digital phone service, which often gets targeted for cancellation when there are sweeping rate hikes. Cox seemed undeterred, boosting some basic plan prices while dropping others.

Cox Digital Telephone Rate Increases

Starter will change from $13.99 to $14.99.
Economy will change from $18.50 to $18.39.
Starter Lifeline will change from $10.99 to $11.74.
Essential Lifeline will change from $21.99 to $21.74.
Premier Lifeline will change from $31.99 to $31.74.
An Additional Telephone Line will change from $13.99 to $14.99.
The FCC Access Fee will change from $7.10 to $6.00.
The Cost Recovery Fee will change from $1.49 to $1.60.
Toll Restriction will change from $1.49 to $1.60.

A Cox spokesperson said the rate increases were to cover increased programming expenses, as well as recovering some of the investments Cox has made to improve its equipment and broadband service. Customers on a promotional rate plan are unaffected by the rate increases until their current promotion expires.

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  • EJ: What area do you live in? Are you in the area that is affected by the strike? That long of a wait time for phone service is generally not okay. They s...
  • Chris: I am glad I found this site. Been with charter for well over a decade. Finally have phone service available in my area, on the west coast. However, w...
  • C Hines: How bout my phone went out on Sunday and they’re telling me it will be 4/11 before they can maybe get it fixed. I live in a very rural area with no ce...
  • Rosemary Reich: Throughout conversion to digital we have consistently mislead, lied to and bait and switched. If you like the Post Office and old Ma Bell...you will ...
  • Sam: This is such a stupid problem. Every TV provider that isn't a cable company understands that selling service by the simultaneous stream is the future....
  • scott: but no fox sports midwest for cards and blurs games. sorry but charter is way late to the party. playstation vue has everybody beat by a long shot . ...
  • EJ: That is not a fair rational at all. Fiber can be run by backbone only companies. It will take time yes, but if the wireless companies are willing to d...
  • L. Nova: Anyone who thinks that this 5G is going to be the savior for wireless doesn’t get it: you still need a lot of fiber to connect these antennas. There’s...
  • EJ: Dear Germany take it from us Americans... do not and I mean do not go down that road. Look at our mess in the internet market and ask yourself is a pr...
  • kaniki: A lot of live action shows are like that.. Same with movies.. But, when you go toward the cartoons.. not so much. credits are a good example of the sp...
  • kaniki: Left most loop holes wide open?? and you expected them to close them?? If they did, it would hurt them, and they are too greedy for that.. As for the ...
  • kaniki: I did not mean it as it was one person, or anothers fault, but more like, they are sitting there talking about Republicans are... while this stuff hap...

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