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Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC), Comcast Corporation (CMCSA): Three Reasons Your Cable Bill Is Rising

Americans are sending bigger checks to their cable companies these days. Both Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) reported last week that they’re collecting more cash from subscribers lately. And while it’s true that big cable is after bigger profits, that’s not the only reason bills are on the rise.

Here’s a look at the trend in average monthly revenue per customer for the two cable giants:

Company 2010 2011 2012 2013 Q2
Comcast $127 $138 $149 $160
Time Warner $97 $102 $104 $105

Source: Time Warner and Comcast financial filings.

It’s important to note that these figures include high-speed Internet and phone services in addition to straight-up cable programing. That said, let’s dig in to exactly why the numbers have been spiking.

Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)

Higher speeds and more services
First, people are opting to upgrade to higher Internet speeds. While Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)’s video revenue rose by just 3% last year, the company’s high-speed data sales leapt by 14%. The same goes for Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA). It saw high-speed Internet revenue rise by better than 9% over each of the past two years while cable sales crept up by 1.3% and 2.5% in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Bundling is also doing its part to raise average bills. The number of “triple play” subscribers on Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)’s books jumped by 12% last year as it persuaded more folks to subscribe to all three of its major services: voice, data, and cable. With additional services attached to our bills, it’s no wonder we’re paying more in total.

Expensive programming
And content is getting more expensive for cable companies, giving them a good reason to raise prices. Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)’s programming costs spiked by 6.4% in 2012 thanks to a rise in sports-related broadcasting expenses. Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) expects its content costs to jump by 10% this year. The culprit? You guessed it: sports programming.

That’s been a boon for the likes of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), which owns ESPN. The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) reported a sharp rise in affiliate income last quarter that was driven by a 7% bounce in the prices it charges for ESPN. To some extent, cable companies have just been passing those extra costs on to consumers.

Add-on fees
But we can’t let Big Cable off scot-free. Increased fees and plain old pricing changes have been a factor in rising cable bills as well. For example, Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) credits price increases and “an increase in equipment rental charges” as helping its revenue last quarter. Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) says “rate adjustments” contributed to boosting sales toward that record $160 monthly figure last quarter.

Overall, both companies managed to book higher total revenue despite losing a small amount of cable subscribers. The loss from those cord-cutters was more than offset by sales gains from other services.

The article 3 Reasons Your Cable Bill Is Rising originally appeared on is written by Demitrios Kalogeropoulos.

Fool contributor Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of, Netflix, and Walt Disney.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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