Comcast's Great New Secret Cable Plan: Get Just What You Want (Mostly)

Cable installation truck in Washington DC
Sit down, fasten your seat belts, and prepare to be astounded. Comcast (CMCSA) Cable may be about to give customers what they want: A cheap, flexible way to watch the television shows they want -- without having to pay for a lot of junk they don't.

For the past six quarters -- 18 months to you and me -- a trend has been afoot in the pay-TV industry. According to website AllThingsD, which keeps track of such things, every three months that it's checked in on Comcast's customer counts recently, it's found fewer and fewer people subscribing to the cable behemoth.

Turn Offs

37,000 people "cut the cord" with Comcast in the first quarter of 2012.

176,000 more abandoned its service in Q2 2012.

Three months later, 117,000 more left. Only 7,000 left in Q4 (when cable companies push big discounts to attract customers for the coming year). But then 60,000 were out the door in Q1 2013, 159,000 in Q2 2013, and most recently, another 129,000 in Q3.

Across the cable industry, everyone from Time Warner (TWC) to Charter (CHTR) to Mediacom is seeing similar patterns play out, as customers defect to competing television offerings by satellite and telecom providers (think Verizon (VZ) FiOS, or AT&T (T) U-Verse). Meanwhile, the traditional "cable companies" have seen a combined loss of more than 3.1 million customers over the past 18 months.

The Trend That Is Your Friend

If this sounds like a trend likely to strike fear into the hearts of Comcast cable execs -- well, it should.

So in an attempt to stem the exodus, last month Comcast announced that it's going to try and give customers more of the kinds of services they want, and less of what they don't.

Dubbed "Internet Plus," Comcast's new bundle offering consists of four main parts:
  • A basic cable subscription to 45 or so channels, including local television,
  • The premium pay-TV channel HBO, plus HBO GO for mobile devices,
  • High speed Internet access at speeds up to 25 Mbps,
  • And a subscription to XFINITY Streampix, Comcast's answer to Netflix (NFLX), which includes complete access to full seasons of past television series such as "Lost," "30 Rock," and "Battlestar Galactica."
Thus, Internet Plus gives viewers a very basic collection of the cable channels they really need, plus the premier pay channel HBO, plus plenty of other viewing options via Streampix.

If all that isn't enough, the 25 Mbps download speed means customers can easily supplement Comcast's organic offerings with a Netflix subscription, and be assured of decent download speeds, and minimal buffering hassles.

Oh, and the price? $40 to $50, depending on your location.

The Fine Print

Now don't get too excited. This is still Comcast we're talking about. They aren't offering a la carte cable, which would let you pick (and pay for) only the channels you watch. (For a whole host of reasons, that may never arrive.) And while it sounds like they've finally resigned themselves to the fact that they must give you an option of a basic deal that actually focuses on what you want, they're not necessarily going to make it easy for you.

Visit the Comcast homepage, for example, and you'll be hard pressed to find any mention of the new Internet Plus option. Search the site, and you'll be lucky if you find even a brief mention that you can call the company on their toll free line, and maybe get someone to set you up with this bundle. And naturally, the prices offered for it are promos: After a year, Comcast will try to bump them up to $70 a month.

But finally, at long last, it's out there. And now you know to ask.

Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix.

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Thanks to the author for posting this. It's $70 a month now but better than the $120 I was just bumped to. I gave up HD and DVR's entirely but I don't care. I stream Netflix and HBO Go via Apple TV in glorious HD and am very pleased. Also the internet plan in my area is Blast service up to 60 down 20 up.

January 11 2014 at 7:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Tim!,

This is garbage also non-H/D and slow internet service.

Infinitys BASIC is 54 channels 20 of them are SPANISH*** 4 SHOPPING CHANNELS***4 LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHANNELS!!!

Call and give Infinity this info and they will give you free HBO for 6 months (garbage movies)

December 04 2013 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had two TV boxes and high speed Internet with Oceanic. The price was horrific and I decided I wanted to cut back and simplify my life. All those darn TV channels and I watched maybe 5 of them. I turned in one box and saved twenty bucks a month, I think it was. Then, they "gave me" two years of expanded HD. Free. I got my bill down and I'm still not satisfied. I watch TV in my bedroom and have cable downstairs. I picked up one of those HD antennas and get maybe 10 channels - and at least half of them are ABC, NBC, that. I have not watched my TV downstairs in weeks and neither does my wife. I am about a nano-second away from canceling cable altogether. What a waste of my money. I dumped my phone a few weeks ago and have not missed it. I use my cell phone exclusively. $40 a month in savings right there. All I need is my cell and internet - the rest they can shove it. Oh yes, Oceanic just recently started a rental charge on the modem. Seven dollars a month. I have been using this same box for 13 years. I'm tired of being gouged.

November 18 2013 at 2:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

tired of paying high cable bills month after month and all you see are repeats. I think everyone should drop the cable for one month and then see how much cable would decrease!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 17 2013 at 10:24 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to karencard7's comment
Cortez Harris

For sure these greedy cable companies are ripping us off.

February 05 2014 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here is a new flash for Comcast and Direct TV....good bye I'm going back to whatever is over the air, I'm tired of paying for 150 channels of CRAP when I only care about 20 of them. See ya'

November 17 2013 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Best Move I EVER made called COMCAST and told them I was done. .
The 1 st week was hard as I guess it was a kind of withdrawl. .
But now I look back and It was the best thing I have done. . . I read more ,get more done around the house.
I got a HD little antenna from amazon that gets alot of channels FREE and I am no longer a B**CH to COMCAST!!

November 17 2013 at 7:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Greed just plain greed. Of course companies should recoup their investment . Nothing wrong with that. The truth is stockholders want to see as large a return as possible on their investment also.Any CEO who goes before a board with a proposal to make a decent return had better hope the board members agree with his definition of the word 'decent." Eventually wanting as much as you can, as long as you can, and continuing to raise prices, will eventually catch up with you. All of this jazz about businesses providing jobs is just that. If no one works for them they make no money. They aren't doing employees any more of a favor than employees are doing for them. What they have in their favor is that there are a lot of desperate and hungry people looking for work. Such is life.

November 17 2013 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

don't believe it til you see it. talk is cheap.

November 17 2013 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This has been out for a while. I work for them and it's called blast plus and the internet speed is actually 50mbs. The price varies $50-$70 depending on what time of year and who sells it to you. I'm a direct sales rep so it's cheaper thru me than online or the phone.

November 17 2013 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up with three channels on our five inch TV. I could always find great shows. They were clean moral shows. Not a bunch of trash talk. I can't watch T V with my grandkids because of the filth that is on cable. I bought Roku. It's like Hulu. I have a variety of free shows and movies. For a few dollars a month. I can get netflix or other pay channels. I can also connect to my cable and get free shows. I am going to cut the cord and save. I pay 111.00 a month. I can keep the broadband and scrap the rest.. I should save close to $90.00 a month. This is another area where the government stuck their nose and we taxpayers got the shaft. Lobbiest in Washington paid off our corrupt officials

November 17 2013 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply