Cable prices, historically, go up, and prompt people to cut the cord. And Comcast has announced that it is raising cable prices yet again, later this year. What's different this time? The internet and cable TV company is already signaling that the latter half of that business may not be long for this world.
The price hike news broke around Comcast's Q4 2019 earnings report, with The Verge citing rate "adjustments" planned for 2020. After the report hit, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told CNBC that the company plans to "pivot to a broadband-centric cable company," which is a polite way of saying the company is aware of the public perception that cable TV is the past and not the future.
Comcast's already working on this post-cable future, with its entertainment arm NBCUniversal revealing the online-only Peacock streaming service. Coming in April — with the tantalizing starting price of Free — Peacock is a play to deliver the same premium content you'd get from NBC and other channels, hoping to get people to accept ad-driven content again by only including 5 minutes of commercials per hour.
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Peacock also has two premium tiers: a $5 per month plan to unlock all of its shows and episodes, and a $10 per month to remove advertisements. Existing Cox and Comcast cable and internet subscribers will get the $5 Peacock Premium for free.
This also falls in-line with Comcast's recently revealed Flex streaming box. Available to internet-only subscribers, the Flex gives customers the option to purchase and rent movies and shows through Comcast, as well as provide access to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video. Users can also rent TV shows and movies directly through Comcast using the box.
Why keep cable around at all? Revenue from that division for Q4 hit $14.8 billion, narrowly exceeding analyst expectations, which were placed at $14.75 billion.