Charter to raise broadcast fee on Spectrum TV in November

(Logo: Charter Communications, Graphic: The Desk)

Customers of Charter’s Spectrum TV are about to see their bills go up yet again.

Late last month, Charter began issuing notices to customers of its Spectrum-branded video services warning that the price of their programming packages will go up by at least $4 a month.

The price increase is tied to a broadcast television fee that Charter imposes on customers who receive local channels as part of their video services. Affected video plans include Spectrum Stream TV and Spectrum TV Choice.

“At Charter, we work hard to keep prices as low as possible,” a Charter spokesperson wrote in a notice to customers that was seen by The Desk this week. “We value our customers and are committed to providing them with the latest products and technology.”

Charter customers already pay a broadcast fee of around $17 a month, after the company raised it by $3 in March. The new price increase will see some Spectrum TV customers shelling out around $21 a month for their local ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS stations that can often be received for free with an antenna.

Charter says Spectrum customers who are on a promotional plan will not see their prices increase until the end of the promotional period.

The broadcast TV fee increase takes effect on November 1.

The fee increase will likely leave some customers looking for an alternate to Spectrum Stream TV and Spectrum TV Choice, especially since the cost of each service is quickly approaching what a subscriber might pay for cable or satellite.

There are some streaming-only cable alternates on the market that offer many of the channels carried on Spectrum’s streaming services, but without any extra hidden fees.

Philo is a wallet-friendly streaming service that carries a number of general entertainment, lifestyle and knowledge channels bundled with an unlimited cloud-based DVR that stores recorded movies and TV shows for one year. The service is available for $25 a month and comes with popular channels like Comedy Central, AMC, A&E, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Lifetime, TLC, Vice, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, but not local channels or sports networks.

Customers who need their local channels and sports can sign up for Sling TV and choose between two packages priced at $35 a month: Sling Orange, which includes Disney-owned channels (ESPN, Freeform, Disney Channel) and Sling Blue, which offers legacy Fox and NBC channels (NBC, Fox, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, NFL Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox News). Both packages also offer channels like AMC, Comedy Central, the History Channel and IFC. A package that combines Sling Blue and Sling Orange is just $50 a month.

Sports nuts should check out Vidgo, a startup streaming service that offers a wealth of college and pro sports aired on ESPN, Fox Sports, Pac 12 Network, Longhorn Network, NFL Network, NHL Network, ACC Network and MLB Network, plus general entertainment channels like ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, History, Lifetime, A&E, Science Channel, TV Land and more starting at $60 a month.

Other streaming cable replacements include Frndly TV ($7 a month), Google-owned YouTube TV ($65 a month), Hulu with Live TV ($70 a month), Fubo TV ($70 a month) and DirecTV Stream ($70 a month). Frndly TV and YouTube TV offer seven-day free trials, while Hulu with Live TV and DirecTV Stream are currently offer multi-month discounts on their base subscription packages.