Home > NewsRelease > Comcast Upsets Turner Classic Movies Fans with Bold Business Decision
Comcast Upsets Turner Classic Movies Fans with Bold Business Decision
Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Boston , MA
Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Removing the 25-year-old network from the basic cable line-up

Comcast Upsets Turner Classic Movies Fans with Bold Business Decision

Source: Twitter

On October 10, Comcast angered basic cable subscribers who were fans of Turner Classic Movies by removing the popular cable network from its basic subscription package. Fans who want to watch TCM, a collection of movies mostly from the 1930s through the 1960s, will have to upgrade to a more expensive sports entertainment package to get access to the channel. They will now have to have a minimum package of 140 channels, plus pay $9.99 more a month for the sports entertainment package, to get access to the commercial-free TCM, said AJC.com.

The change was effective last week, but Comcast started notifying customers through their monthly bill this summer. Comcast explained its rationale for the change:

“Every month, Comcast pays programmers like networks, local TV station owners and others, for the ability to bring their programming to you. We regularly review our programming and sometimes make changes to ensure we're offering a wide variety of programming at the best value. We look at a variety of factors, including customer viewership and programming costs when making these decisions,” wrote Comcast.

“Viewership of TCM is low, as over 90% of our customers watch less than two movies per month. Given this and contractual limitations on offering TCM a la carte, we decided to move TCM to the Sports Entertainment Package, which will help us manage programming costs that are passed on to our customers while continuing to make the channel available to those who want to watch it,” the cable company added.

If you want to see movie classics like Annie, Alien, Primrose Path, Godzilla, West Side Story and Citizen Kane, viewers first have to subscribe to a pricey sports entertainment package with channels and programming that have little, if anything, in common with TCM. Comcast said that viewers who recorded TCM programs previously can still watch those recorded shows, but no programs after October 10 will be recorded unless those viewers subscribe to the higher-priced sports package.

Comcast Upsets Turner Classic Movies Fans with Bold Business Decision

Source: Twitter

Comcast Upsets Turner Classic Movies Fans with Bold Business Decision

Source: Twitter

There were many more tweets, but most of them were riddled with foul language and harsh sentiments hurled at Comcast. It is safe to say that viewers are very disappointed in this move and feel like, with Comcast’s profit margin, they can absorb the cost of a channel that is popular with generations of viewers. They interpret this action as one of greed.

Cord cutters who subscribe to live TV streaming bundles can still access the 25-year-old Turner Classic Movies network with their existing packages, a move that could backfire on Comcast.

Here are a few examples of where viewers might turn to get their classic movie fix:

  • Sling TV – with Hollywood Extra package for $5 extra/month
  • Hulu Live TV
  • PlayStation Vue
  • YouTube TV

Insider Take:

We understand that companies need to make business decisions to cover costs and to maximize revenue generation opportunities. However, in some cases, those decisions cause them to alienate and lose customers. Here it seems that Comcast was trying to take advantage of an opportunity to make more money, but maybe they didn’t think it all the way through. Most importantly, they were not putting the customer first.

Not only has there been public outcry online (e.g., social media and Comcast’s own customer forums) showing their customers’ disappointment, but their competitors offer TCM as part of their basic streaming bundles. Comcast is making it easy for their customers to cut the cord and try a streaming bundle instead. They also packaged TCM with programming that is not consistent with the types of shows TCM viewers watch. This may have been a very costly decision.

Dana Neuts is Subscription Insider's Senior Staff Writer, covering our daily subscription news as well as member features, case studies, and reports.  

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