Comcast recently removed Turner Classic Movies from its basic subscription package: If customers want to watch the channel’s variety of classic films, they’ll need to ante up an additional $9.99 per month.
The company, which is the nation’s largest cable TV provider, recently moved the ad-free TCM channel to its “Sports Entertainment Package”, a bundle of channels that come with an additional fee. The Sports Entertainment Package offers content such as the Military History Channel, Outdoor Channel, and, of course, a variety of athletic content. The Sports Entertainment Package has historically not offered much content that caters to classic movie buffs.
An Xfinity (the Comcast-owned television provider that offers Turner Classic Movies) FAQ claimed that Turner Classic Movies viewership was low and stated that over 90 percent of its customers watched less than two movies per month. IndieWire could not independently verify that claim.
Representatives from Comcast and Turner did not return requests for comment. Xfinity customers were reportedly informed of the change on their monthly billing statements.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the first publication to report on the change, which went into effect last Thursday. The AJC noted numerous heated complaints on the Xfinity customer forums in response to the price increase, including several saying, in effect, the move was the one that “broke the camel’s back” and caused them to “cut the cable.”
Turner Broadcasting Systems, which owns Turner Classic Movies, is based in Atlanta. The company is owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which is set to launch its HBO Max streaming service next year. As for Comcast, the company’s NBCUniversal conglomerate will launch Peacock, its own streaming service next year.
It is possible that the impending launch of those streaming services incentivized Comcast to gate the Turner Classic Movies channel behind a more expensive television package. Entertainment companies, many of which are preparing to launch their own streaming services, have become less willing to offer their popular content on competing platforms.
One way WarnerMedia could help its upcoming HBO Max stand out from the likes of Netflix and Hulu would be by offering its library of classic films that have historically only been aired on Turner Classic Movies on its own streaming service. Having those films be accessible on Comcast’s basic cable package could potentially undermine the value of them also being hosted on HBO Max.
Comcast and Turner aren’t the only companies who have caused a content stir as the streaming wars continue to heat up: Netflix axed all of its Marvel Cinematic Universe shows, such as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” shortly after Disney announced Disney+, its own streaming service. Disney+ will host most future Marvel Cinematic Universe television programming.