Why Food Network Is Suddenly More Expensive to Watch for Some Viewers
Complaining about large telecom companies is practically an American pastime. Whether it’s dropped calls, slow internet speeds, or expensive cable bills, customers often find themselves unhappy with the services these massive brands provide, but also without any better options to choose from. Philadelphia-based Comcast has regularly found itself facing customer wrath, repeatedly landing on lists like “America’s Most Hated Companies.” And now, some Food Network fans are once again fuming after the cable giant switched which payment tier the popular channel lands in.
Earlier this month, Comcast moved the Food Network, along with some other popular channels like Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and TruTV, from its “Digital Economy” package to its “Digital Starter” packaged, which costs about $10 to $20 more, according to USA Today. Though the cable giant says it alerted customers to the switch two months before it happened, as is often the case with mass mailings, some Comcast subscribers apparently missed the memo—and frankly, there’s not a ton they could have done even if they had known in advance. Apparently, subscribers to packages with these channels weren’t necessarily grandfathered in to keep them after a switch. As a result, the choice for Digital Economy subscribers is to either upgrade their package or lose the Food Network, et al.
“I have had Comcast Xfinity for many years as my cable provider. Recently, I tried to tune in to the Food Network. It said, ‘For subscription services, please dial…’” vented Judy Kirchner in an opinion letter published last week on Lancaster Online. “I was told they audited many accounts and realized there were channels that should not have been included in the economy digital package. … My rate has not changed, and I did not get a previous warning that this would occur. … I am paying more than $140 a month.”
In a statement to USA Today, Jenni Moyer, Comcast's senior director of corporate communications, took the usual cable company stance that they value their subscribers. “We understand that some customers find this programming valuable, and we will work with them to explain options that may help them continue to watch this programming or other content like it,” Moyer said.
But as is typically the case, what exactly that means is anyone’s guess. As analyst Bruce Leichtman of Leichtman Research told USA Today, large telecom brands “want to maintain subscribers,” but they are also walking a “tightrope” when it comes to appeasing customers’ desire for a good deal and shareholders’ desire for big profits at the same time. For now, it appears part of that tightrope is the Food Network.