Comcast bumps Food, Disney, Cartoon, other channels to pricier tier

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After several years of steep quarterly increases in the amount of money Comcast spent to license pay TV programming, expense growth increased by only 3% in the first quarter. (Comcast)

Comcast has moved Food Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, TruTV and several other cable channels from its Digital Economy bundle to its more expensive Digital Starter package.

According to USA Today, Comcast began notifying customers of the change in the last two billing cycles. The cable operator simultaneously moved lesser-watched networks BBC America, BBC World News, Bloomberg TV, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and Smithsonian Channel to from the higher priced Digital Starter to the cheaper Digital Economy bundle. 

Digital Starter is $10 to $20 more expensive than Digital Economy, depending on whether subscribers bundle other services. 

Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer confirmed the changes to Fierce, noting, "We understand that some customers find this programming valuable, and we will work with them to explain options that may help them continue to watch this programming or other content like it.”

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After several years of steep quarterly increases in the amount of money Comcast spent to license pay TV programming, expense growth increased by only 3% in the first quarter. 

This came after Comcast saw a 10% increase in the first quarter of 2017.

The sudden deceleration wasn’t unexpected, Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh told investors during the cable operator’s first quarter earnings call last month. 

“We’re back in the land of normal escalators,” he said, noting that the high levels of expense growth were driven by renewal deals with programming conglomerates over the last few years. 

However, judging by the latest network moves, Comcast might be using other levers to control program licensing costs.

The operator lost 93,000 video subscribers in the first quarter. Video revenue was down only 0.8% to $5.7 billion, however. 

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