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Charter considers lower-priced video tier

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 7:25am
Brian Santo

Charter Communications is reported to be another MSO seeking to provide a lower-cost tier of basic cable service.

Time Warner Cable appears to have already negotiated most, if not all, of the rights it needs to offer a lower-priced tier it will be calling TV Essentials. The package will be priced at $39.95 per month.

CEO Michael Lovett said Charter is creating "a lower-tier, more economic package. We can go back to those households that are experiencing challenging times in this economy with something that would be better-suited for them," he said, "at least for this phase." Lovett was quoted by MediaPost, which had been sifting through comments from last week's SNL Kagan conference.

The report said Lovett offered no specific details about when Charter might be able to offer such a service.

Cable has lost basic subscribers during the last two quarters, the first loss of subscribers in decades. The majority of those subs appear to have jumped to competitors that have been offering lower-priced service on a promotional basis.

A few hundred thousand seem to have just cut all TV service. While some, including SNL Kagan, suspect that part of the reason is that many subscribers are opting to get all of their video over-the-top through broadband connections, MSOs say they see little evidence of this. Instead, cable operators say, it appears the poor economy is inducing people to cut their monthly bills by getting rid of cable TV.

TWC, Charter, and reportedly Comcast are looking to craft lower-priced tiers that ideally will induce customers who need to economize to shift to a lower-priced tier, rather than sever their relationships entirely.

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