According to the latest data from the Leichtman Group
, the pay TV sector has seen notable subscriber losses for the second consecutive year. According to Leichtman's analysis of the top thirteen pay-TV providers (who in total represent about 95% of the market), those companies lost about 125,000 net video subscribers in 2014. That comes on the heels of a 95,000 net decline in pay TV subscribers during 2013.
The top nine cable operators lost around 1,195,000 video subscribers in 2014. Satellite companies, which have traditionally been more resilient to cord cutting, added a net total of 20,000 subscribers during the year.
Meanwhile, TelcoTV providers have been consistently losing broadband customers to cable operators in parts of the country (read: where they refuse to upgrade DSL lines), but stealing pay TV subscriber from cable in areas they've upgraded (usually thanks to better set top platforms). That resulted in the top telcoTV providers adding 1,050,000 video subscribers in 2014.
"2014 marked the second consecutive year for pay-TV industry net losses, but the losses remained modest again this year," said Bruce Leichtman, who has consistently downplayed the cord cutting phenomenon and is quick to do so again here. "Despite a relatively saturated market, and increasing alternatives for consumers to watch video, the top pay-TV providers have only lost about 0.2% of all subscribers over the past two years."
Comcast has oddly been blocking Comcast users from enjoying HBO Go on select devices for years now. Since 2011
users complained that the cable giant didn't allow HBO Go to work on Roku if you're a Comcast cable subscriber, and while that was only recently remedied, Comcast's also been blocking its customers from using HBO Go on the Playstation 3 for around a year now
report this week indicated that while the company lost 194,000 pay TV customers last year (adding 6,000 in the fourth quarter), the company managed to add 1.3 million new broadband customers during the same period. Comcast made $20.7 billion in 2014 off of pay TV subscribers compared to $11.3 billion from its broadband customers. As pay TV revenues continue to stall Comcast will be looking to make up the difference in that lost revenue -- most likely in the form of Comcast's slowly expanding usage caps
and overage fees. Meanwhile, Comcast says it is "optimistic and feels comfortable" about their merger getting approved sometime early this year.
Senator John Thune, Rep Greg Walden and Rep Fred Upton, two of which are the largest recipients
of Comcast campaign donations in Congress, had been pushing a net neutrality "compromise" in the hopes of derailing FCC passage of tougher rules
. However, most realized the effort as a ploy to undermine the kind of consumer protections Internet activists have been all-but yelling for, resulting in Thune and Upton admitting this week their effort has failed
And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality.
On the heels of Cablevision's new FreeWheel Wi-Fi calling service
, reports suggest that Comcast may also be eyeballing Wi-Fi powered video and video services. According to the Donahue Report
, Comcast is busy hiring developers to work on a myriad of new services powered by Comcast's network of 8 million national Wi-Fi hotspots. Details are pretty skimpy, and are based solely on a series of Comcast job listings looking for help with iOS and Android app development:
“We're developing new concepts to ‘mobilize’ Comcast's core triple-play business, and we're evaluating potential entries into the wireless ecosystem. These concepts will utilize Comcast's 22 million Internet subscriber relationships, 8 million Wi-Fi hotspots, and pioneering X1 Entertainment Operating System to deliver new, magical mobile experiences,” Comcast wrote in a job listing for Executive Director, Product Design.
The report notes that Comcast has MVNO agreements already in place with Verizon and Sprint that could likely act as cellular backup to the Wi-Fi calling service. So far, Comcast says that while this is a project the company is "spending some time on," they're not quite ready to announce anything just yet.
Comcast's already dealing with some well-earned blowback for some of the worst customer support not only in telecom, but in any industry. But if Comcast's PR department is to believed, someone is actually making Comcast's job harder by responding to online Twitter complaints, then calling customers pretending to be highly-offensive Comcast support reps. story continues..
As we noted previously
, Senator John Thune and Representative Fred Upton have been pushing their own "bipartisan net neutrality solution" in Congress with an eye on pre-empting the FCC's plan to impose tougher, Title II-based neutrality rules. The goal appears to be to table rules that are actually the weakest we've seen yet
-- make a few minor concessions, then push forth the rules as a "bipartisan" example of why we don't need Title II.
Not too surprisingly, the International Business Times highlights how Thune and Upton have received more cable-industry money than nearly anybody else in Congress
. Comcast insists they donate to Republicans and Democrats alike, and implies the fact that two of their biggest contribution recipients are spearheading an anti-net neutrality effort is coincidental:
Asked about the contributions, Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast, pointed out that the company contributes to most members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, including Democrats opposed to the Republican plan. (Upton is chairman of the House committee.) She said, in most instances, Comcast donates larger amounts to representatives in states where it has an increased presence -- for instance, in Michigan and Oregon -- and “not because of any particular issue."
Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have all suggested that they'll sue if the FCC tries to impose tougher consumer protections.
To get regulatory approval for Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal back in 2011, Comcast was effectively allowed to come up with their own merger conditions for the deal -- conditions which even then the company struggled to adhere to
. Among those conditions was a program Comcast called "Internet Essentials
," the brain child of top Comcast lobbyist David Cohen.
Another day, another example of Comcast not being very good when it comes to fairly basic customer service. The latest complaint comes courtesy of 79-year-old Albuquerque Francis Wilson, who says she accidentally included her $235 rent check alongside her monthly $20.69 Comcast cable payment. story continues..
Last summer story continues..
, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga Tennessee petitioned the FCC for help bypassing protectionist laws written and passed in those states by incumbent ISPs designed for one thing: to protect the uncompetitive broadband market. Earlier this month the FCC finally stated they'd be taking aim at overturning these restrictive laws
, a frontal assault in North Carolina and Tennessee being the opening salvo in overturning the 20 similar laws passed nationwide.
Apparently if you want Comcast to do something right, you need to call Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' mom. One intrepid Philadelphia-area reporter wanted to help a couple that was in the middle of a fairly typical six-week Comcast support hellscape. story continues..
Given the government's love of mergers and acquisitions in the broadband space over the last decade, Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable initially seemed like a done deal. But as Comcast has taken repeated fire for horrible service and anti-competitive behavior (not to mention what seems like an endless stream of half truths
about the merger's benefits), doubts have started to creep in on many fronts.
Title II based net neutrality rules are only one part of a three-pronged effort to improve US broadband services, FCC boss Tom Wheeler said in a speech defending his recent decision
to pursue Title II reclassification for ISPs. In a speech
given at the Silicon Flatirons Center conference, Wheeler noted that redefining broadband as 25 Mbps and working to eliminate state-level protectionist broadband bills would also improve the nation's broadband service.
Speaking on the company's recent earnings call
, Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus stated that the company plans to offer their faster "Maxx" service (300 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up) to 75% of the company's footprint by the end of 2016. That's assuming these deployment plans don't get shelved due to a regulatory rejection of their planned Comcast merger.
After apparently suddenly realizing that Comcast owns Conservative nemesis MSNBC, a Conservative SuperPAC last month began taking aim at the Comcast, Time Warner Cable merger
. "It is...important that the public sees how Comcast and NBC News are distorting the news to benefit President Obama and their liberal Democratic allies in Congress," claims the group in a press release
As we noted last week
, the GOP is pushing for FCC boss Tom Wheeler to release an early look at his net neutrality rules, which are expected to be released on February 26. The push is coming specifically courtesy of Senator John Thune and Representative Fred Upton, who as we've noted are busy pushing their own, much weaker neutrality proposal
in the hopes of preventing the FCC boss from embracing Title II (and tougher neutrality protections).
Comcast made numerous headlines last week after a company representative changed a customer's account records to reflect a first name of "a**hole
. As we noted at the time this wasn't the first time this happened, as we covered an instance where a customer found their name changed to "bitch dog" back in 2005
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