Dish Network claims cable TV is a real boar |

Dish Network claims cable TV is a real boar

The competition to win over television service customers in Glenwood Springs got down and dirty Wednesday as Dish Network took aim at what it calls the “cable pig.”

Promoters for the satellite dish TV service inflated a 22-foot-long, 16-foot-tall pig balloon beside Grand Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs, handed out ham sandwiches and Dish Network T-shirts, and waved signs stating, “Cable rates are piggish.”

Dish Network’s campaign, Stop Feeding the Cable Pig, is seeking to make the most of rising cable rates, and what it considers the increasing affordability of satellite TV by comparison.

“We’ve inflated the pig in Glenwood Springs to show the inflated prices,” said Adam Kucera, a Dish Network sales manager whose territory includes Colorado.

It’s part of a nationwide tour for the pig, which has hoofed it all the way to the West Coast and is headed to New York state.

Comcast, which has the cable franchise for Glenwood Springs, is less than amused by Dish Network’s barnstorming marketing tour.

“While we continue to grow our customer base, the competition has resorted to mudslinging,” said Tiffany Payne, a Comcast spokesperson in Colorado.

Bernie Beckel thinks Dish Network is merely pointing out the truth about the rising cost of cable. He’s a systems administrator at Crimson Wireless/ETech Connect, which is an outlet for Dish Network and was playing host to the pig Wednesday at its Grand Avenue office. He said sales of the Dish Network service have increased significantly in the last three to four months.

At the start of the year, Comcast raised the rate for its standard cable package by 6.4 percent in Glenwood. That follows a rate hike a year earlier that boosted cable prices by more than 20 percent, or $6.80 per month, for some Glenwood subscribers.

The city has fielded complaints about the rising costs of cable. In an effort to stabilize rates, the city may partner with a local company to compete with Comcast for the franchise agreement when Comcast’s agreement runs out next year, City Manager Mike Copp said in December.

Comcast’s basic service in Glenwood now costs $14.33 per month.

Dish Network prices start at $29.99 a month for 60 channels ” about the same number as Comcast’s $42.99 standard package.

Cable companies once had a pricing edge in that they didn’t require long-term contracts or an up-front purchase of equipment as dish systems did.

But Dish Network has dropped both of those requirements. Kucera said the company does charge an activation fee, but the customer is credited for it at the time of the first billing.

Dish Network’s pitch was enough to interest some passersby Wednesday.

Max Parks of Glenwood is a cable customer who doesn’t watch much TV.

“The only reason I have cable is because it’s included in the rent,” he said.

But his dad is planning on getting cable soon, and Parks said he planned to give him a heads-up about Dish Network.

James Sweeney, a Web site promoter at Blizzard Internet Marketing, strolled across the street from his workplace Wednesday to check out the big pig, and what Dish Network has to offer. He said he’s ready to go from cable TV to dish service.

“For the same price, I can get twice the channels,” he said. “The only reason I haven’t switched yet is pure laziness.”

While cable rates have been rising, Sweeney said that for him it’s as much a matter of the cost of satellite TV coming down and becoming more competitive with cable.

Comcast’s Payne doesn’t disagree.

“I think Colorado has a competitive marketplace,” she said.

Part of Comcast’s strategy in remaining competitive has been to invest $400 million in upgrades in the state over the last few years to upgrade its services. That has allowed it to offer digital cable and high-speed Internet, and it also is working on introducing video on demand and service for high-definition televisions.

Comcast has cited this investment as a reason for having to raise rates. But Payne said the investment is paying off in an increased customer base. Comcast now has 680,000 customers in the state, Payne said.

Cable also doesn’t charge extra for local channels, and its service isn’t affected by the weather the way dish service sometimes is, she said.

“The picture, the quality cable provides, we believe we bring a lot to our customers, a lot of value,” she said.

While Comcast may lose Sweeney as a cable TV customer, he said he will remain a faithful subscriber to its high-speed Internet service.

“They’re the best. No one can compete on speed,” he said.

Payne said Comcast’s high-speed Internet service is about twice as fast as standard DSL service, and an upgrade scheduled to go into effect next week will make it four times as fast.

“It’s been a huge part of the market,” she said of the service.

Meanwhile, Comcast is countering Dish Network’s pig campaign with a program inviting satellite TV customers to switch to cable. Comcast will remove a new customer’s dish for free and offer a $400 credit against a cable package.

Under the program, Comcast has collected about 11,300 dishes in Colorado since 2000, Payne said.

And a note from Payne: No animals were used in the promoting of this program.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

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