So now we know how Comcast is going to pay for all those $1,000 bonuses to its employees -- and it’s not because of the tax cut.
The news is that Dish Network, Comcast, Altice USA, DirecTV and Cox Communications, among many others, are looking northward -- with some tacking on as much as a 15% price rise to their basic pay TV plan.
Mind you, it isn’t just Comcast.
Other companies -- AT&T, which owns satellite pay TV company DirecTV, as well as non-media companies, such as Wells Fargo, Boeing and others -- are feeling the holiday spirit. They are also giving workers $1,000 bonuses.
Pay TV providers will tell you the obvious: It’s about higher programming costs. But cable operator Altice USA gets a bit more specific, in a statement to one industry trade publication:
"This reflect[s] the rising cost of programming, particularly fees charged by sports networks and broadcasters as we continue to experience demands, in many cases, for double their current fees to carry the exact same programming.”
One wonders with even minor price gains, this will finally irk longtime pay TV consumers — who will finally make the leap to the Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.
Now, I’ll offer the obvious on the first two services mentioned above: Sling TV is owned by Dish Network and DirecTV Now is owned by DirecTV -- companies that intend to raise prices on their traditional pay TV packages.
For many, these consumer price hikes have yielded increasing collateral damage: Higher prices among cable, satellite, and telco providers are slowly driving TV consumers away from all types of pay TV services.
For example, according to a FCC report of a year ago, in 1995, the average cable TV package cost $22.35 per month. In 2015, it was $69.03.
Now the good news: Start counting the days when we see the first monthly subscriber pay hikes for those digital/virtual pay TV packages -- or better yet, higher prices from the same owners that also provide broadband services, now that "net neutrality" rules have gone away.
Happy New Year Viewing -- and Happy Paying!