Comcast keeps promising that this is the year their legendarily bad customer service gets an overhaul, but consumers don’t seem to be buying it. A national survey asking consumers about cable and internet companies has, once again, dropped Comcast and Time Warner Cable right at the very bottom of the heap.
After months of rumors, this morning it became official: Charter plans to step in where Comcast failed, with a $55 billion plan to acquire Time Warner Cable. Regulators looked unfavorably on Comcast’s bid, finding it would have too many negative effects on consumers and on competition. But Charter clearly would not be trying its own takeover, with such a huge price tag, if they didn’t think they stood a good chance of success. So what makes the second offer so different from the first — and is it any more likely to succeed?
There’s a story we hear far too often: someone is buying a house. Before they put any money down, they do their research. They call the local cable/Internet provider to make sure they can get broadband service at this new address. They double-check. They triple-check. They search the property for wires, call back, and make sure they’ll be okay. Then they take out the mortgage, move in, and… surprise! There’s no broadband service after all, there won’t be any, and now they’re up a very expensive creek. [More]
Most of the country doesn’t have much competition for broadband services. But in some of New York City’s boroughs, particularly Brooklyn and the Bronx, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS fight head to head for residential customers. The battle between the two is often ugly, and with a new lawsuit filed yesterday, it just got uglier.
A certain segment of consumers have been clamoring for years for cable distributors to break up the monolithic, 300-channel bundle into a la carte offerings. For those who don’t watch sports, the logic goes, why pay for ESPN? Why pay for TLC if you don’t watch reality TV, or CNN if you don’t give a damn about news?
Odds are (unless you live in central Florida) that you probably don’t know much about Bright House Networks. The cable company serves about 2 million TV and internet customers, mostly in Florida and also in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and California. But in the many eddies rippling through the cable world after the sinking of the Comcast/TWC merger, this one regional provider may be poised to make or break some pretty big deals.
If you’ve ever tried to withhold a tablet full of cartoons from the grasping clutches of a five-year-old intent on mainlining Dora the Explorer, then you know that children’s TV content is a pretty big deal. Often it’s the only thing that can prevent a total, shrieking, screaming, flailing and hysterical meltdown. Viacom will be trying to cash in on that need for kid fodder with a new stand-alone subscription service for Nickelodeon.
2014 was a record-setting year in an enormous variety of ways, both good and bad. As we wrap up and head into 2015, here’s a look at what happened, and what we learned, in the 2014 that was.
Americans watch a lot of TV. But increasingly, we don’t watch it “on TV.” If you feel like everyone you know is spending Saturday devouring whole seasons of programming on Netflix instead of channel-surfing on the cable box, you’re not alone. At least half the people you know are doing that, a new survey confirms — and those numbers just keep going up.
Plenty of people have cut back on pay TV — cable and satellite — and gone to internet-only subscriptions in order to save some cash. But the individual cord-cutters aren’t the only ones realizing how expensive programming can be, and how they can live without it in the broadband era. Some small-scale cable companies are also taking the plunge, and cutting out TV service altogether.
In recent years, cable companies and broadcasters have squared off in nasty, public spats that sometimes result in blackouts for millions of viewers. The broadcasters say they aren’t being paid properly and the cable companies claim they’re on our side, trying to keep costs down (though we always end up paying more). These battles will likely only get worse, with analysts predicting that the cost of content will continue to increase. [More]
Aereo lost their case in the Supreme Court last month, and had to suspend operations a few days later. In that case, the Court ruled that Aereo was actually operating just like a cable company, and so needed to license content like one. Aereo is now legally trying to do just that — but the broadcasters still object.
If you just had a hunch that your basic cable pricing was going up more rapidly than the other things you pay for, you’re probably not mistaken. A new FCC report on the cost of pay-TV services says that during 2012 the cost of a basic cable TV package increased at more than four times the rate of inflation in the U.S. [More]
The mega-rich can dabble in pretty much any business they want to. Warren Buffet owns everything from furniture stores to ice cream chains. Richard Branson started a commercial spaceflight company, for crying out loud. And yet with demand for high-speed, affordable internet access going only up, up, and up, no new business or venture capitalist seems to be stepping into the fray to provide it. People passionately hate their current cable companies — so what’s stopping an enterprising entrepreneur from making a giant wad of cash entering the telecom game?
In a congratulatory gesture to celebrate Comcast’s Worst Company In America win, an antenna company took it upon itself to deliver a cake to the victor’s Philadelphia headquarters. One, because cake is delicious (clearly) and also to thank the cable company for sending it cord-cutting customers who have a sudden need to buy an antenna. [More]
If you’re one of those TV viewers who knows exactly where on their vast channel list to find the few stations you watch regularly, or who frustratedly skims past screen after screen of channels you not only don’t watch but don’t even know the names of, you’re not alone. In fact, a new report confirms that the average TV watcher only looks at fewer than 1-in-10 of the channels that come into their homes. [More]
UPDATE: A rep for Verizon has reached out to Consumerist to clarify that the $50 activation fee is only required for customers who order FiOS service offline and that this fee varies from market to market. Additionally, the $5/month router rental fee has not yet started. It will begin Feb. 16 in all markets except New York State. [More]
While numerous telecoms in Europe and Asia are acknowledging that it’s becoming cheaper and easier to provide TV and high-speed Internet service to consumers, many U.S. providers are continuing to charge high prices for a mediocre product, according to a new report from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. [More]