Comcast adds channels to basic service

Comcast adds channels to basic service

August 26th, 2010 in Business Around the Region

Subscribers to Chattanooga's least expensive cable TV service will be able to nearly double the number of channels they receive if they pick up a digital adapter.

Comcast is expanding its digital service and adding 11 more channels to its current 13-channel limited basic service, provided basic service customers pick up one of the company's digital adapters. The new channels include the extra broadcasts from local stations because of their enhanced digital options, and will include several PBS services and Retro TV channel.

Starting Sept. 13, new subscribers to the limited service will be given the digital adapters when they sign up for the service.

"We're offering our customers more channels and more options at the same basic price," said Laurie Shipley, public affairs manager for Comcast in Chattanooga. "Both new and existing limited basic customers may have up to three complimentary digital adapters on their accounts."

The move for basic subscribers comes a year after Comcast rolled out its digital upgrade for most of its customers with expanded cable service. The additions also come as Comcast battles to keep its dominant share of the video market in Chattanooga against EPB's new fiber optic service.

Comcast charges from $7.99 to $12.99 for its basic limited service in the Chattanooga area, depending on where the customer resides.

EPB charges $11.99 for its basic service, which includes 12 channels.

EPB uses a different delivery system and doesn't require a digital adapter box, EPB spokesman Lacie Newton said.

"One thing we have found customers enjoy about Fi TV Basic is that you can just plug in and go with no set top box and no digital adapter," she said.

EPB launched its fiber-optic residential service last September and so far has signed up 14,155 customers, including 12,407 with some type of television service. EPB also is using its fiber-optic network for high-speed Internet, telephone and electronic billing information.

The new digital option for Comcast basic customers follows a recent report that the number of Americans paying for cable TV service dropped in the second quarter for the first time.

According to the market research firm SNL Kagan, the number of cable subscribers dropped by 711,000 during the spring quarter, with six out of eight cable providers reporting their worst quarterly subscriber losses to date. SNL Kagan Analyst blamed the drop on high unemployment, low housing formation and new online video competition.