About those Contract Negotiation Spats

Fortunately, Suddenlink was not threatened late last year with the loss of any channels. But some of our peers found themselves in the midst of heated contract renewal negotiations. Forbes’ Lacey Rose and Insight’s Michael Willner offer their respective takes on what all the fuss was (and is) about.

Holding the Line on TV Programming Prices

In the last couple of months, some Suddenlink customers have seen an upward adjustment in the prices they pay for cable TV, and they’re not alone: Suddenlink’s primary TV competitors are also raising prices.

We don’t like higher prices anymore than our customers do, and that’s why we have worked hard to hold rate adjustments to a minimum. The good news: Our efforts to control expenses resulted in no recent increase to the prices customers pay for some of our most popular services, including high-speed Internet and phone.

Our major remaining challenge is the cost of TV programming — namely, the fees we are required to pay the owners of networks like ESPN, Fox Sports, MTV, Nickelodeon, Disney, USA, Lifetime, and others. Taken together, those fees — which are beyond our direct control and represent our single-largest expense category — are growing at approximately 9% each year, three times faster than the rate of inflation. Naturally, we did not ask our customers to bear all of that increase; in fact, companywide, our average cable-TV rate increase was approximately half that amount or 4.5%, meaning we ate the other 4.5%.

Of course, this situation would have been worse if had we caved into the demands of the NFL Network and certain broadcast TV station owners.

Going forward, our commitment to our customers is to always negotiate in good faith with TV network and station owners, doing our very best to obtain popular programming at the most reasonable prices possible. We are also committed to helping customers save money wherever we can — such as through packages that bundle TV, Internet, and phone services together and provide significant annual savings over the price customers would pay if they ordered those services separately from different providers. Customers who are interested in such savings can visit our primary Web site. Enter a zip code to see the latest bundled offers in your area.