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How much would you pay for all that Comcasticness?

I see that Comcast is set to roll out a bunch of new channels when it assimilates Time-Warner next week. I’m not particularly interested in any of them, but I am interested in this:

Comcast will introduce a new tiering system that has several notable upgrades or improvements.

The new “Basic Service” tier includes all local channels (and their HD signals) as well as Chicago “superstation” WGN, Tube Music (affiliated with Channel 39), and Spanish-language channels LATV (affiliated with Channel 2) and V-me (affiliated with Channel 8). Price: $16.42.

An “Expanded Basic” tier adds 55 channels to the “Basic” tier, including eight HD channels. Price: $44.99.

“Digital Basic” is for customers who want the first two tiers plus access to video on demand, including MoviePlex. Price: $51.99.

Niche channels such as ESPN News, Current TV, Gospel Music Channel and Toon Disney are on the “Digital Classic” tier. Price: $55.99.

“Digital Preferred” adds Logo, Indieplex, Sundance, four Encore channels and more. Price: $56.99.

A sports pack, which includes the NFL Network, goes for an additional $4, while a 15-channel Spanish-language package can be added for $5 more. Premium movie packages and international channels are also available. HDNet pack, offering Mark Cuban’s HDNet and HDNet Movies, can be had for another $3.

A package that includes everything except the international channels is available for $86.99, which matches the current price for a similar offering on Time Warner.

Almost makes you wonder how much different a la carte pricing would be, doesn’t it? I’m not sure which of these our current TWC digital cable plan will map to, but I guess I’d better check. No point in paying for something you never watch if you don’t have to.

One more thing:

All prices do not include the cost of equipment such as a digital box or an HD tuner.

Monday’s Chron had a story about how there was supposed to be a free market in digital cable boxes by now. Didn’t quite work out that way, but you can avoid the charge if you have the right alternate equipment:

Set-top boxes distributed by cable companies today contain both security and navigation functions. In the first phase of the plan, the FCC ordered the industry to make the security function separately available by July 1, 2000.

That led to the development of the “cable card.”

The credit card-sized devices house the de-scrambling function and plug into competing boxes, such as the new TiVo Series3, and digital cable-ready televisions, which have a card slot.

So far, there’s been little competition for competing set-top boxes. Only about 260,000 cable cards have been deployed, according to the NCTA. And they don’t always work very well.

We’re on our second set of cable cards for our Series 3 TiVo. The first ones did not work well at all – they would lose signal regularly, which required a call to TWC customer service and a request for a third-line support engineer to re-initialize the card, followed by a TiVo reboot. After several go-rounds on this, I swapped the cards at a TWC retail outlet, and things have been fine (well, mostly fine, anyway) ever since. Keep that in mind if you ever go this route.

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One Comment

  1. One of my big frustrations with the cabel boxes is you can only use a Time Warner remote control, or at lease we’ve never been able to program an “All-In-One” type remote to work. At least Time Warner has given their remotes out for free, but that doesn’t help when the dog ate the remote on Friday night and you can’t get to TWC quickly for a replacement, and they aren’t open on Saturday.