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Comcast Cable’s CEO Says Refunds From RSNs for Games Not Broadcast Will Be Forwarded to Customers

Stephanie Sengwe

Back in April, Comcast Cable was one of the major cable companies urged in a letter by New York Attorney General Letitia James to cut fees attributed to live sports programming given the fact that most games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, it seems the company has taken heed as David Watson, the president and CEO of Comcast Cable, revealed that all funds reimbursed to the company from the RSNs will be forwarded to their customers. During their Q2 2020 earnings call, Watson stated, “We expect that we’ll be getting some monies back from some of the sports leagues based on games played or not played in the U.S. And when that does happen, we — as we’ve said, we’ll pass that back along to customers. So we’ve accrued for that on the revenue line, not billing people, and we’ll get that back on the expense line.”

Comcast joins fellow media conglomerate AT&T in crediting customers. Back in June, AT&T, parent company of DirecTV, stated that any rebates they get from programmers will go towards crediting customers, Multichannel reported.

“With the professional baseball and soccer seasons postponed or suspended, our customers who subscribed to MLB Extra Innings and MLS Direct Kick will receive credits for any payments already made toward their subscription and we have postponed future charges until we learn more from the leagues,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in contact with programmers and sports leagues as they plan their next steps. Any rebates we receive from programmers and sports leagues will be provided to our customers.”

Charter, which was also mentioned in AG James’ letter, offered a slightly different response. According to Deadline, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge revealed that cutting fees for games not played is not entirely up to the cable company. “We have a structure where its all bundled together and tied together contractually and we have very little control over it,” he said during the company’s Q1 earnings call. “We would love to see our customers be relieved if they can be. Ultimately it’s the athletes who are getting the money and … someone has to give up their money and give it back to the consumer and that has not happened yet.”

Cable and satellite customers pay up to $20 per month is additional fees for sporting packages. However, since the lockdowns, cable companies continued to collect fees despite the fact that many games were canceled starting in March.

In her letters, James asked providers to find ways to “appropriate refunds, discounts and reductions of charges and fees, payment deferrals, and waiver of termination fees, at least until live sports programming is resumed.”

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