Once upon a time, TV was mostly a thing you watched for free, over an antenna. Commercials and corporate sponsorships made up the cost for networks. Then TV became cable. Then cable became your internet, and TV was once again briefly free, through streaming services with commercials. But then came subscription internet TV, and that’s where we are today, with Hulu finally pulling the plug on its non-subscription service.
Comcast is just so happy this morning, you guys! Their second quarter results are out and they are thrilled, just thrilled, to announce that they lost 4,000 TV subscribers in the last three months.
Conventional wisdom still says that sports are the key to cable: people will stream their comedies and dramas, but will pay for their sports coverage, because Americans sure love their sports. So it is unsurprising, then, that over-the-top cable-alternative streaming services are lining up to add more sports channels to their programming, including PlayStation Vue.
As mentioned in the earlier story about Sen. Claire McCaskill’s customer disservice call to her pay-TV provider, the Missouri senator and others on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing today to talk to cable industry executives about their bad billing practices. Not surprisingly, the cable suits did a bang-up job of proving that these companies deserve their poor reputation. [More]
A major annual consumer satisfaction survey is out, and it’s a mixed bag for the cable and telecom sector and all of us who use it. The bad: pay-TV, broadband, phone, and wireless companies still pretty much really suck, and most of us are very dissatisfied with them. The good: year over year, most of them are finally starting to suck less than they used to!
When the FCC voted in February to consider new rules for your cable box, that kicked off a multi-month cycle of public comments, where anyone and everyone can have their say. The deadline for the first round struck at midnight Friday, which means most of the comments are just rolling onto the internet for all and sundry to have a look at.
When you sign up for telecom services — some combination of TV, broadband, and/or phone — from your cable company, you’re told you’ll pay something like $49 or $99 a month… and yet the price you actually pay can be as much as 40% or more on top of that, thanks to a heap of sometimes confusing charges and fees. Which ones should you blame the government for, and which are made up by your cable company? One cable company at a time, we’ve been using real customers’ bills to break it down. In previous installations we’ve gone through Comcast, DirecTV, Charter, and TWC; now, it’s Verizon’s turn.
When you sign up for telecom services — some combination of TV, broadband, and/or phone — from your cable company, you’re told you’ll pay something like $49 or $99 a month… and yet the price you actually pay can be as much as 40% or more on top of that, thanks to a heap of sometimes confusing charges and fees. Which ones do you blame the government for, and which are made up by your cable company? One cable company at a time, we’re using real customers’ bills to break it down. We’ve already looked at Comcast, TWC, and DirecTV, so now it’s Charter’s turn.
When you sign up for telecommunications services — some combination of TV, broadband, and/or phone — you’re told you’ll pay something like $49 or $99 a month… and yet the price you actually pay can be as much as 40% or more on top of that, thanks to a heap of sometimes confusing charges and fees. Which ones do you blame the government for, and which are made up by your cable company? One business at a time, we’re going to use real customers’ bills to break it down. We’ve already looked at Comcast and TWC. This time we’re switching it up a bit to have a look at satellite, and will be dissecting a bill from DirecTV.
Thirty years ago, in 1996, you actually used your TV to watch broadcast or cable signals — live, as things aired. Twenty years ago, in 2006, you probably still had cable, but you probably also had a DVR, freeing you to watch programming at your leisure (much to the chagrin of advertisers). Ten years ago, in 2016, you may or may not have decided to cut the coaxial cord — but even if you had cable, odds were high you complemented it with some kind of streaming service. But by today, Jan. 4, 2026, if you even remember what “cable” was, that’s probably because you only see it at your grandparents’ house. [More]
For a bunch of the big cable and satellite companies, it does indeed look like a very merry Christmas and a happy new year are on the horizon — but consumers can be forgiven for feeling a lot more grinchy about it. That’s because all the new nickels, dimes, and dollars that are going to line businesses’ big virtual pockets are coming directly from subscribers in the form of unasked-for price hikes.
Dish’s latest contract fight with the networks it airs has wrapped up much more quickly than usual: less than a day after nearly 130 Sinclair channels went dark on the satellite provider, the local channels are back on in 5 million subscribers’ homes. At least, for now.
Dish Network subscribers may have a hard time getting their local news and weather today along with some of their favorite network programming. A contract dispute between the satellite TV company and one of the biggest network owners in the country has resulted in one of the biggest TV blackouts to date, with 5 million viewers losing access to nearly 130 channels.
As we noted earlier today, Comcast now effectively has exactly the same number of Internet customers as it does cable subscribers, and the Internet users will soon outnumber those who get their TV from Comcast. And while a pay-TV customer brings in significantly more gross revenue for a cable company than someone who is broadband-only, these companies are likely making more profit off their Internet users. [More]
As dominant as it is and has been for decades, TV advertising is something of a crapshoot. Neilsen ratings are still the gold standard for every network out there, especially since they now finally track time-shifted viewing. But Neilsen still uses their own proprietary tech, and works on a sampling basis. In an age when every set-top box and most of the TVs they’re plugged into are themselves net-connected computers, there’s a more granular and accurate way to measure viewers and to advertise to them — and Google’s taking it.