Report: Another 665K People Just Dumped Cable TV

cutting_the_cable_cord

Are consumers getting bolder about cutting the cord?

That’s the takeaway from Leichtman Research Group, a media and research firm, which found the 11 largest pay-TV providers, making up about 95% of the pay-TV market in the U.S., lost about 665,000 net subscribers in the second quarter of 2016.

Though the second quarter is traditionally a slow time, this quarter’s lows surpassed the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter, Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst of the firm, said in the statement.

According to Leichtman, Charter, Time Warner Cable’s new parent company, lost a significant number of customers (143,000), while DISH lost 281,000. AT&T U-verse fared the worst, with 391,000 customers dropping subscriptions.

Interestingly, Leichtman said the only company to add any customers in the second quarter was AT&T’s subsidiary DIRECTV, which net 342,000, bringing its total to about 20.5 million customers. Per Leichtman’s press release, “net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments — therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases may not produce accurate findings.”

Credit.com reached out to every company in the release for comment, some of whom were unavailable.

Maureen Huff, spokesperson for Charter, pointed to this phrase from the cable company’s press release for the second quarter of this year. “On a pro forma basis,” it read, “total customer relationships increased 173,000 during the second quarter, compared to 54,000 during the second quarter of 2015, and for the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, grew by 1,251,000, or 5.1%.”

“Verizon lost Fios subscribers due to the strike,” wrote Eric Wilkens, senior analyst, External Communications, in an email. “We’ll be back to normal levels in the third quarter.”

Writing via email that “the report doesn’t put the numbers into context,” an AT&T spokesperson said the company is the world’s largest pay-TV company with over 25.3 million subscribers, including U-Verse and DIRECTV (U.S. and Latin America operations). What’s more, “the company added 342,000 U.S. DIRECTV subscribers.” A total of 391,000 U-Verse subscribers were lost during the second quarter, the spokesperson added.

Said John Hall, corporate communications for DISH, via email: “I don’t think we’ll have anything to add beyond what we’ve said on our most recent earnings call.”

Comcast, Altice, Mediacom, Cable ONE and Frontier did not respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.

When Considering Cable

Cable providers have had a lot more competition in recent years, given the growing availability of streaming services. These services don’t generally require a credit check and typically feature much lower monthly rates — though subscribers may not get access to all their favorite shows and live television events.

If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, it’s important to know where your credit stands, as it isn’t uncommon for cable companies to run a credit check when you apply. If you have bad credit, you may even be asked to pay a larger deposit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. And if you’re not sure how to make sense of them, check out our tips for understanding your credit score here.

Image: BackyardProduction

The post Report: Another 665K People Just Dumped Cable TV appeared first on Credit.com.

Here’s How Much Comcast Data Caps Cost One Customer Every Month

While Comcast moves ahead with its plan to add cell-phone-like data usage fees to home Internet service, consumers like Kimberly Richardson are feeling the pain. And if you are a heavy user and part of Comcast’s new fee trial, expect your bills to go up in January.

Richardson, who lives in Atlanta, regularly exceeds Comcast’s 300 GB usage cap. In July, she was charged $70 for overages. In August, $90. Meanwhile, warnings that her family is about to exceed its allotment seem to come earlier and earlier each month.

“Today, December 7th, I just got a notice that we have already used our 300 GB of data for the entire month of December!!!! What?? It’s only 7 days into the billing cycle!!!” she wrote to me recently. “This seems ridiculous since we have only been home TWO of these days!!! We will probably be billed an extra $100 to $140 in overage costs just for this month. I spoke with three different people, including management, and got no help.”

Even more frustrating, said Richardson: There’s no way to know if Comcast is accurately counting data usage. While Comcast offers some usage information on its website, it is sparse on details. “There is no data meter showing the hours of data usage or what was downloaded either, which is suspect. They only provide the totals of data, but this isn’t helpful or specific,” she said.

Comcast announced it was going to expand its existing trial of cap-and-charge-excess-fees back in September. (Trials in Richardson’s area had started earlier.) Not surprisingly, consumers strongly dislike the move. The website CutCableToday.com reported this week that 13,000 complaints related to the data caps were filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Comcast sent notices in September that gave consumers a three-month courtesy period to get used to the caps. It expires in January.

When I contacted Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas to discuss Richardson’s complaint, he repeated what he told me in September — that 92% of users would not be impacted by the 300 GB limit. Customer service agents contacted Richardson and walked her through tools designed to help consumers understand their usage patterns, he said.

While Douglas said he couldn’t discuss Richardson’s account for privacy reasons, he said there are situations where family members use websites or applications that require a lot of data — even when they aren’t in the house — and families should have discussions about data usage. “We’ve created FAQs about our plans. We have a data usage calculator on our website so consumers can estimate how much data they’ll need,” he said. A data usage meter available to account holders shows a three-month history, he added.

When asked if Comcast plans to offer more granular tools for examining usage patterns — routinely offered with smartphones — Douglas said Comcast was taking feedback from customers on the issue. “People are learning how to manage data usage from their wireless experiences and we’ll continue to study it,” he said.

Richardson wasn’t happy with Comcast’s explanation, however. “Basically, nothing was resolved,” she said. “We have a better understanding on what could be using up our data each month, but there isn’t anything we can do about it. We weren’t able to get a refund on the data charges or regulate our data usage without getting rid of devices. We still don’t have any proof that we are actually using that amount of data, and there isn’t a specific data meter going forward telling us what we are using.”

Other consumers who chimed in on my original story about the caps have the same complaint. “I know for a fact that I have not used 300 GB,” wrote one. “I live with my two young children. On weekdays, they go to school and I go to work. We get home between 5:30 and 6:00. They are not allowed TV or electronic use during the week. They are gone out of the home every other weekend, and so am I. And yet when I asked for proof of this usage, I was not able to access such proof because it does not exist.”

UPDATE (12/17/15 at 5:15 ET): Comcast says it uses outside auditors to verify the accuracy of its usage metering technology. Consumers can read about the audits here.

Richardson did sign up for a new plan Comcast will offer in Atlanta starting in January. For an extra $35 each month, her family will once again enjoy unlimited data.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: daizuoxin

The post Here’s How Much Comcast Data Caps Cost One Customer Every Month appeared first on Credit.com.