Syracuse, N.Y. — Spectrum is losing hundreds of thousands of cable television customers annually, but that’s not stopping it from raising it prices.
The company began notifying customers in Central New York last week of increases that will take effect when they receive their next bills. The increases appear identical to Spectrum price increases that have been reported elsewhere in the country and include a hike in the price of internet service for some customers.
Spectrum is raising its TV Select plans by $7.50 a month (its TV Select Silver plan with 125 channels, for example, will go up to $72.49).
In addition, the company’s broadcast TV surcharge will increase $1.51 a month to $13.50. That’s the price Spectrum charges customers to carry local broadcast stations as part of its cable television packages — the same stations customers can get for free with an antenna.
The company is raising the price of its digital receivers (cable boxes) 49 cents to $7.99 a month per receiver.
In addition, the price of its standard internet service will rise $4, to $69.99, for customers who do not subscribe to a Spectrum TV Select or higher plan. Spectrum’s standard internet provides download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps in most of its service areas, including Central New York.
Customers who are on promotional pricing plans, which provide discounts for specified periods of time, will not see the increases until those plans expire.
Spectrum said the television price increases are necessary to cover increased programming fees charged by the TV networks it carries.
“Despite our best efforts to control these costs, this has resulted in a change in the rates we charge our customers,” the company said in its notice to customers.
Andrew Russell, a spokesman for the company, said the increase in the price of the TV Select plans is the first since they were introduced in late 2016 and reflects the rising cost of cable programming over the past three years.
He said the increase in the price of internet service “reflects our investments in a better connectivity experience and improved network quality and reliability.” The increase in the broadcast TV surcharge reflects the “continually and rapidly rising cost of local broadcast channels,” he said.
Though customers can receive local broadcast stations for free with an antenna, those same stations charge Spectrum for the rights to carry their programming on its cable television service. Spectrum passes those costs on to customers through the surcharge. Customers who might prefer to get the same channels for free over the air are not given the option of dropping the stations from their cable plans to avoid the surcharge.
Increased programming costs may not be the only reason the company is raising prices. Spectrum is losing TV customers to a growing number of competitors offering live streaming video services over the internet. The company has been effectively offsetting the hit to its revenues by growing its base of internet customers and raising prices for its remaining television customers.
From June 30, 2018, to June 30 of this year, 404,000 TV customers, or 2.5% of its residential television customer base, left Spectrum. Nevertheless, the company reported that its TV revenues from residential customers rose 0.6% in the second quarter of this year, compared with the same quarter last year, because of price increases and the expiration of promotional plans, or what it calls “promotional rolloff.”
Spectrum’s predecessor in New York, Time Warner Cable, frequently offered customers promotional pricing when they threatened to drop their cable TV service. But since Charter Communications, which does business as Spectrum, bought Time Warner Cable in 2016, it has instituted a policy of only offering promotional deals to new customers.
The change has helped the company raise the average monthly revenue it receives per residential customer for all services (TV, internet, phone) from $111.88 to $112.20.