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Television Entertainment

The Cable Industry's a La Carte Bait and Switch 447

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the television-is-so-90s dept.
jfruhlinger writes "For years, cable operators have insisted that a la carte pricing, in which users could chose the channels they want, would undermine the both their own business models and the existence of important but less-watched channels currently wrapped into bundles. That's why it was surprising to hear that major cable companies are privately working towards offering a la carte pricing. But when you look at the details, it seems more like a bait and switch: those lesser channels (which pay cable companies for their place on the dial) will still be bundled with the local stations cable companies are required to provide, whereas pricey sports channels (which cable companies have to pay for) will become HBO-like premium services."
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The Cable Industry's a La Carte Bait and Switch

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  • Makes sense actually (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bruce_the_loon (856617) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:23PM (#37541098) Homepage

    For those of us who don't like sport and don't like subsidizing those who do, this is a win. For a sport fan, it's a good way to part him from his money.

    • by Fortunato_NC (736786) <[moc.nsm] [ta] [57hnilrev]> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:28PM (#37541168) Homepage Journal

      Your assumption is that once the sport channels are removed, the price of basic cable will fall. I am not sure that the cable companies are on board with you here.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        Mine recently lowered some of their prices, and contacted me to tell me that my service price was lowered. So... I think mine might do this again.

        3 my cable company. So glad I'm not stuck in a Time-Warner only region of the city.

        • by Amouth (879122) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:17PM (#37541940)

          my cable company raised rates so that basic cable + basic internet was 125$ a month.. i told them they could keep the bill and the service since they seem to value it more than i do.

          • by billcopc (196330)

            Even after the so-called "triple-play discount", our bill was around $250 here for cable TV, internet and home phone. I hardly watch any TV, and everyone calls my cell. So one day, a much admired DSL ISP expanded into the cable business in my area. We cancelled everything and went for a $55 uncapped internet service, and a $20 VoIP phone for the stupid apartment intercom.

            What we really care to watch, we either download or stream from Hulu or the like. I'm quite content to watch the hockey games at the p

      • One thing you can be sure of - cable companies aren't going to make changes that get them less money overall.

        My situation is that I was paying Comcast about $70-80 for their lowest cable and HD package, and I was really only buying it for Fox Sports and ESPN. (I already get local channels in HD over the air). So I cancelled my cable. I can live without ESPN and the local hockey team, if it saves me $80 a month.

        If Comcast is going to come to me and say "Come back! You can buy any one of our basic channels fo

        • by Rolgar (556636) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:16PM (#37542962)

          But revenue is not all profit. The cable company pays the sports channels for each subscriber that receives the channel. The cable company builds a tier and sets a price for it that includes the amounts that each channel demands. I don't know if the cable company's cost for the tier is the same as what you pay for the tier, or if the cable company adds in a little extra, but I suspect there isn't much profit there. If all of the Fox Sports, ESPNs, and the college sports networks are on a tier that costs the customer $50, I suspect that's about what the sports channels are demanding. If so, then the cable company doesn't really care if you get it or not because they don't lose any profits from you dropping that tier, their profits would all come from the amount you pay for basic service.

          The tiers then exist to keep customers happy, allowing those that would not buy any service without the premium content to get it, while others pay for the basic package. The cable company has every reason to give customers a low priced option for the basic package, because every additional basic subscriber is almost entirely profit because the basic channels are are nearly free, but the company still collects the fee for your basic service, which is why the cable company can bundle them for the basic price of service.

          If they are going to offer a la carte, I would like the smallest tiers possible. Besides basic, the only channels I'm really interested in are ESPN and my regional Fox Sports affiliate. Those are the only two channels that offer games I'm interested that aren't on my basic service tier. Going forward, I might be interested in an educational tier since our children are entering the age were they might benefit from access to the History channel as well as others. As it currently works, I don't think they offer tiers of completely similar programming because the companies that own the channels demand that all of their channels be on the same tier even if they don't really have the same market focus (ESPN, ABC and Disney Channel). Why do the companies do this? They only have to get you to want one of the channels, and they force you to pay for all of them. The cable company is just the middle guy who signs the contract that allows them to carry the service, then advertises you to buy the product.

          I find it ridiculous that every time a channel threatens to pull service from a cable station, the channel demands that customers call the cable company and tell them to negotiate with the company, which gives the channel negotiating leverage to ask for more money in programming fees, which will eventually be passed on to the customer in the next annual price increase. Every freaking time, I'm rooting for the cable company to hold out, starve the channel of viewers, so they'll eventually cave in without getting more money to the cable company to drive up the next round of price increases. But the channels always wait until right before some big game that will be on their channel (a playoff game involving a local team, or the NCAA tournament), then threaten to pull their programming so customers will frantically blame the cable company not realizing they are asking to pay more for their cable bill.

          • by thomst (1640045)

            Rolgar stated:

            The tiers then exist to keep customers happy, allowing those that would not buy any service without the premium content to get it, while others pay for the basic package. As it currently works, I don't think they offer tiers of completely similar programming because the companies that own the channels demand that all of their channels be on the same tier even if they don't really have the same market focus (ESPN, ABC and Disney Channel). Why do the companies do this? They only have to get you to want one of the channels, and they force you to pay for all of them. The cable company is just the middle guy who signs the contract that allows them to carry the service, then advertises you to buy the product.

            Wrong.

            When I inquired about satellite service, some years back, I was told that, in order to get the Discovery channels (Discovery Channel, History Channel, Discovery Science, etc.), I would have to subscribe to their Tier 1 package - which included a raft of sports channels in which I had zero interest. In order to add the National Geographic Channel, I would also have to subscribe to their Tier 2 package (for a total additional cost for both tiers of around $75/month), which included yet ano

    • I thought people who don't like sports had already migrated to services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix, and people who don't like sport had migrated to their own countries' counterparts.
      • The bundling is even worse. With Comcast, they dropped the Internet only option. I had switched to DSL for faster speed and less throttling. They recently pulled fiber and are knocking on doors offering Internet at 20 meg speeds for less than my 6 meg DSL, which was an upgrade from my 2 meg original Comcast. The catch is, it comes bundled with basic cable, no opt out. The nice thing is the bundle is currently less than my DSL. I'll be giving the DSL guys an option to match the offer before switching ag

    • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3r @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:43PM (#37541424)

      You realize that every damn thing you watch is subsidized by others as well, right? That you're not an island, and rely on others to split the cost of providing the channel with you just as much as they do for sports?

      • Let me see if I get this right, those channels which pay the cable company to be on basic cable will be on basic cable, but those that charge the cable company will cost me extra? I am not sure how this is not exactly what I am asking for. There are a lot of channels in my package that I am not interested in, but if they have no impact on the cost of the package, I don't care.
        Right now there are two channels I would like to get, but in order to do so, I have to pay for the next tier up from the one I have
      • This is true for quantity as well. If I watch very little, I am subsidizing those who watch a lot with the all you can eat cable models. Netflix and Hulu are basically the same models - Netflix $8/month all the movies you can watch. Amazon movie rentals reward less viewing - you rent by title.. So this subsidy factor goes in a lot of directions.

        Not sure if the analogy holds, but with internet service, Australia has had pay per byte models which some analysts argued (inside the FCC when I worked there) that

    • Let's say the average customer pays $45/month today. If cable companies suddenly start sending people only 20% of the channels that they did before, they still are going to need to get an average of $45/month from each customer, or else they will no longer be solvent. I don't think this works out as you would like.

      So, I am one of the sports-only type people that you are referring to. I would have dropped cable long ago, except that I need ESPN and the Big-10 network (a lot of my social life involves invi

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        You are not counting people who dropped cable years ago due to cost and my rejoin if the cost structure was reasonable.

        I would pay the full $45/month on one condition they will never grant, no commercials on paid for channels. This is the same reason I will not pay for Hulu. Amazon and Netflix seem to be happy to get my money.

      • by GIL_Dude (850471)
        Well, that would work except for the fact that ESPN, Disney, etc. charge the cable company per person who has access to the channel. So, let's say you have that bundle for $50 a month and it includes Disney and ESPN. If I don't subscribe to those in the new model, the cable company no longer has to pay for them (to ESPN and Disney). Since they don't have to pay for them, they can be solvent just fine getting something less than $50 from me for the channels I do subscribe to. Of course this only works for th
      • If they would pass on something like the actual cost per channel, plus overhead and profit, we consumers could make better choices about which channels are actually worth it. Channels that charge too much for their programming would be obvious. Those with higher costs and less value would find themselves with fewer viewers. This sounds like a win to me!
  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:23PM (#37541102) Journal

    whereas pricey sports channels (which cable companies have to pay for) will become HBO-like premium services.

    So why is this an issue? If I don't want to watch ESPN 9, why should I pay for it?

    • Heh. Because you won't end up paying less.

      • by alen (225700)

        if you RTFA you'll see that ESPN aka Disney is paying a huge premium to carry the sports games and will ask the cable operators for higher fees. of course they are trying to hide them by making the cable operators carry ESPN as part of the basic subscription

        there is no way comcast or TW can keep paying higher fees and charge you the same amount of money

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        Hmmm. I might.

        My cable company recently lowered the price of my plan (non contract) and called me to tell me they had done so. I can see them doing this again in the future, if their costs go down. They are one of the more expensive in the city, but it seems they are actually spending the money on customer service and a decent infrastructure, unlike Time Warner.

        • Do you feel they were being proactive and maintaining good customer service, or do you think they did this to give you the impression that they pass the savings on to you so they can more easily raise rates later?

          Hmm I asked a question that's difficult to answer so I'll offer this alternative: What's the competition like?

        • by jank1887 (815982)

          It appears you are in an area without a cable monopoly. Let us now introduce you to the rest of the country...

    • You shouldn't. However, to contrast with my other posts, larger channels and networks with enough sway to do such things have actively resisted being placed in an a la carte situation in order to make sure that people who don't want it are still paying for it. "You either put is in the standard package that reaches 95% of your subscribers or you don't get us at all".

      So I'm not sure how this idea will actually go anywhere.

    • So why is this an issue? If I don't want to watch ESPN 9, why should I pay for it?

      Because the people who do watch ESPN-9 want you to help them pay for it.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        And you want the people who do watch ESPN-9 to help you pay for whatever it is you watch.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      You're not going to pay less. And I could say the same damn thing for whatever channel you don't like to watch. And if you go to the whole "Then just let everyone pay for what they watch" thing, then I'm going to submit that what they watch is popular enough to survive on it's own. Odds are what you watch isn't.

      • If I like to watch QVC I'll probably pay less!

        Sorry - couldn't resist. There are some channels which pay to get access to viewers, whereas all the stations you want to watch are the other way around. If a station can make money by providing old movies which cost very little to license, then they are likely to make themselves free to cable, or even pay for a station. If content is expensive and/or if consumer demand is very high for something, then cable will pay to get it on their roster so as to have a com

    • by jpstanle (1604059)

      whereas pricey sports channels (which cable companies have to pay for) will become HBO-like premium services.

      So why is this an issue? If I don't want to watch ESPN 9, why should I pay for it?

      Yeah, I mean if I choose pay full retail price for my smartphone, I don't have to subsidize cheap smartphones for people on 2 year contracts.

      Oh wait...

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        T-Mobile has/had such a plan. That system is also common outside the USA. In reality when you don't see that available you know the market is being distorted somehow, quite likely by a lack of competition.

  • ESPN, for example, is watched by 10%-15% of subscribers in any market. Yet every last customer pays for it.

    • ESPN, for example, is watched by 10%-15% of subscribers in any market. Yet every last customer pays for it.

      You're joking, right? You do realize that this is the US, and football season has started, right?

      • by Hatta (162192)

        The superbowl is watched by about 100 million Americans, or 1/3 of the population. That's the biggest game of the year, on free to watch over the air TV. About 50% of US homes have cable TV, so 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/6 = 16%.

        He's not that far off.

        • by vlm (69642)

          The superbowl is watched by about 100 million Americans, or 1/3 of the population

          That would be closer to 1/4 now. Which makes your result 1/8 or about 12.5%. However you're assuming the distribution of SB watchers is both random and uncoordinated with the distribution of cable subscribers, which is probably big time incorrect. I would estimate dramatic overlap.

          Doesn't really matter because only a relatively small percentage of those watching the SB consider themselves "sports fans". For many viewers, that might be the only sporting event they watch all year...

      • I usually watch the local NFL team, yet I rarely watch ESPN. I would happily give up ESPN if it was not bundled with other channels I want.
    • by jpstanle (1604059)

      Can you cite a reference for that? That assertion sounds unrealistic to me. I'm working entirely on anecdotal evidence, but I'd be willing to bet the ESPN is by far the single most watched cable-only channel in the US.

      For me as a sports fan, ESPN is the only thing that could have enticed me to pay for cable over the past 5 or 6 years. Live sports are the only thing these days that you can't get online or over-the-air.

      • For me it is discover/science channel not ESPN. I don't think I've ever watched ESPN except at a friends house....

        • by jpstanle (1604059) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:10PM (#37541840)

          This may have been true for me a few years back, but Discovery Channel isn't compelling anymore. Most of it is scripted "reality" show drivel... Hardly any good documentaries like the good old days. MythBusters is good, and I still like Modern Marvels on the history channel, but most of that is available online through netflix or some other avenue. Nearly all new documentaries worth watching come from PBS or the BBC. These days the only 'documentaries' on the Discovery channel are pipedream speculation about absurd engineering projects that will never be built.

  • by cpotoso (606303) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:25PM (#37541128) Journal
    Who needs it? I can get about 10 channels over the air, for free, most of them in HD. Then there is the internet (which comes from my cable company, but with whom I do not have any service other than internet). Don't like their pricing schemes, don't buy it. It is not air, water, food, shelter, education or transportation. It is really optional.
    • And this is no doubt the driving force. Most people have a select few channels they would actually watch and pay for. Now that there are alternatives to subscribing to ridiculous $100/mo. bundles just to get the few channels you want, cable operators are going to have to subdivide their offerings to regain those customers who are leaving for more attractive alternatives.

      • Also right now these channels that are bundled are not really trying too hard to get viewers. So you get one channel in that bundle that is valuable then the rest are showing repeats, or those fringe anti-science science shows that Discovery puts on every once in a while about alien abduction... over and over again... If we can pick our channels then every station will need to fight for our viewing, and not just do reruns of their bundled partner.

        Paying $100+ a month for TV is really too high.

        • The thing that chaps me is that I have to pay $60/month for internet from a cable company (and the phone company can't for whatever reason get optical or copper internet of any kind to me -- I live in downtown DC). For $70/month I could get basic cable and internet, but I don't want it. Since basic cable alone costs $40, it's clear that this pricing is b/c cable co's don't want internet service to be cheap, so they are artificially holding the price high, to retain cable subscribers, who are far, far more p

    • by Abstrackt (609015) *

      I've actually been looking into going back to over the air myself. A few months ago we cut cable back to the bare minimum and hardly noticed the difference after a week. We live in a deep fringe area of Canada and can probably get six channels at most but for all the overlap in programming I doubt we'd need more. For everything else, we can just watch it online or wait for it to come out on DVD. The biggest bonus of course is that even the most expensive antenna would pay for itself inside of a year, br

      • We cut back too - for us the best deal was Dish Network's $20/mo DishFamily package, paying a la carte for PBS ($2), with a receiver from eBay ($80) and a dish from Freecycle ($0). We also have DSL ($45), a Roku ($80) with Netflix (who can tell, $15 maybe) streaming and Amazon Prime ($0, had it before streaming video) and a few 'private' news channels ($0).

        Counting the VoIP provider's fee ($8), this gets us the 'triple play' for under $100./mo (including equipment amortization), which beats the basic cable

    • by tepples (727027)

      Who needs it? I can get about 10 channels over the air, for free, most of them in HD. Then there is the internet (which comes from my cable company, but with whom I do not have any service other than internet).

      For one thing, if you already pay your cable company for Internet only, it's probably willing to sell you TV for negligible additional cost. For another, if your favorite NFL team is playing in this week's Monday Night Football, then this week's game is off limits to you unless you have ESPN and all the other channels bundled with it.

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        At least for me, every time I've paid for Internet service, I get basic cable for free as long as I don't get the digital box. So I get the main local channels along with a few stragglers. I think there are a few sports and Spanish language channels but I have them disabled on the TV.

        [John]

      • by Abstrackt (609015) *

        For one thing, if you already pay your cable company for Internet only, it's probably willing to sell you TV for negligible additional cost. For another, if your favorite NFL team is playing in this week's Monday Night Football, then this week's game is off limits to you unless you have ESPN and all the other channels bundled with it.

        I strongly get the impression OP isn't interested in adding cable TV, especially since the cable company is competing with a free service.

      • by mr1911 (1942298)
        I quit paying for TV a couple of years ago. A cheap indoor antenna later and I have broadcast HD in every room in the house. A Roku with Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix Streaming (
        Football is fun to watch, but since I'm not a rabid fan of any one team, whatever is broadcast is fine. If there is really a game I want to see, there are plenty of sports bars around town that have every game. I can't drink enough to consume the savings from ditching paid TV.

        You would be amazed at what you find for f
        • If there is really a game I want to see, there are plenty of sports bars around town that have every game.

          Which is tough if, say, one's son wants to watch Monday Night Football too.

      • by Amouth (879122)

        if your paying 100$ a month just so you can watch your favorite NFL team - i recommend trying a different approach.. trying going out for a local team and spend the money on season tickets..

        just a suggestion

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        For another, if your favorite NFL team is playing in this week's Monday Night Football, then this week's game is off limits to you unless you have ESPN and all the other channels bundled with it.

        If it's a local team, it'll be broadcast on a free channel in addition to ESPN. If it's not a local team, then unless they're playing in the Sunday night game it's a crapshoot as to whether or not you'll see that team anyway without some kind of sports package.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Oh go to hell. Just because something is "optional" does NOT mean that the person offering it should be able to take advantage of their customers. This whole "don't buy it" meme is retarded, as it doesn't get any kind of solution to the actual problem.

      • by lgw (121541)

        If somthing is optional, then any price charged by the seller and agreed to by the buyer is a fair price. "Don't buy it" is, in fact, how price negotiation is supposed to work.

        Sellers sell for as much as they possibly can, and buyers buy for as little as they possibly can. That's how a market works. What could be simpler?

    • Why settle for not buying cable when you can just not watch TV period? All of a sudden I have time to learn guitar, read books, exercise, cook my own food, etc. Plus, I don't have advertisements constantly flashing before my eyes (which you pay to watch on cable; you "get them" for free on non-cable) telling me "consume, consume, CONSUME."
  • Forget ala carte channels - I've got a cable subscription for the 60mbps download, and if a TV channel wants my eyeballs, they'll need to have a website to stream from.

    Of course, they keep calling me up asking me if I want to add a cable TV package for some low low price, but they just can't seem to understand that if I'm not going to use it, I'm not going to buy it.

  • "allow all those hundreds of independent and semi-independent channels to stay alive"

    The itworld guy doesn't know anything about the business. 99.99% of viewer hours are from around half a dozen big media corporations. Big annual or so contracts at the megacorp to megacorp level, not individual channel negotiation level. You'll have to change literally the entire business relationship structure with the upstreams before the downstreams (individual customers) can go a la carte.

    The problem is not the hundreds of independent "local public access" and "local school district" channels.

    The oth

    • by residieu (577863)
      So you haven't seen cable companies with premium channels, pay-per-view, on-demand programs, and DVR rentals before? They know how to collect more than a single flat fee.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Yeah but they haven't got nickel and dime billing down to a science like a telco. Expect to see "1000 channel changes per month free, each after 1000 at only five cents each" deals. Per-minute billing for individual channels... "You can activate the mute button for only 50 cents each push, or $2 per month, or $1 per month on a two year service contract". Every time you hit "FF" on a cableco provided DVR to commercial skip, another line on the detailed bill for 25 cents... That's REAL nickel and dime b

  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:41PM (#37541388) Homepage Journal

    So Americans have willingly been participating in a socialist pay model when it comes to cable channels? Bummer, so who are the Communists and anti-Americans in this evil scenario.

    • In my experience, conservatives typically bundle monopoly corporatism under their umbrella of "free enterprise". As long as wealth is being concentrated, they're fine with it.

    • by keith_nt4 (612247)

      This isn't a socialist pay model: it's not mandated. There's choice. I can opt-in to channels I want like AMC and comedy central, opt-out of golf channel and all spanish-speaking channels. Or choose not to have cable at all. There's always Hulu/Netflix.

      By contrast in socialist medicine for instance EVERYONE is mandated to buy health care...or the more politically correct phrasing "compulsory health insurance", ... thus subsidizing everyone else. No choices involved. In conclusion I don't really see the simi

  • by drb226 (1938360) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:42PM (#37541410)
    The idea is to let you choose how much money you want to waste on TV. If you want the popular, lucrative channels, then you may pay for them. Or not. This is not a bait and switch. This is someone whining that they will now have to pay slightly more for the channels they want to watch, rather than forcing the rest of the viewership to subsidize them. Just because the cable companies will end up getting more money doesn't mean this is a bad thing for me; it just means that a lot of people are dumb enough to shell out more money for the dumb things they watch on TV.
    • It's a bait and switch because the channels nobody wants to pay for will now be bundled with the "required to support" channels and the base price for service will probably remain close to the same so that tier you used to pay $15 for will instead be split up into premium groups and all the cruft that was bundled in that tier will be moved to the base plan and it will still get subsidized. If I didn't want the cruft (ie. I want to choose which channels I get in the base plan as well) I have no choice here e
      • by NoSig (1919688)
        If the channels that pay to get to you are in the base plan, then the base plan would be more expensive without them. I don't hate those channels so much that I'd pay money to avoid having them delivered to me. I can just not watch them.
      • It is not bait and switch, the channels that are getting bundled with the "required to support" channels pay to be there. Therefore, the cable company has no justification to charge anything more than base price for including them. You are not paying for those channels. What I object to are the channels like ESPN that require the cable company to pay a fee for each subscriber the cable company has, even if those subscribers do not want ESPN. What really gets me is that ESPN has successfully moved this model
    • It's "bait and switch" because someone found out about what they were "privately working on" and was disappointed it didn't fulfill his every wish. It's the age of entitlement. If someone doesn't get everything he wants, it can be anywhere from "bait and switch" to a hate crime depending on how entitled he is.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:43PM (#37541436) Homepage Journal

    Just how is this bait and switch?
    "That's why it was surprising to hear that major cable companies are privately working towards offering a la carte pricing. But when you look at the details, it seems more like a bait and switch: those lesser channels (which pay cable companies for their place on the dial) will still be bundled with the local stations cable companies are required to provide, whereas pricey sports channels (which cable companies have to pay for) will become HBO-like premium services.""

    Okay so the channels that are cheap or that pay that cable companies will be "included" with the local channels. The channels that are expensive will be charged for! That is the single must fair and logical way of doing things that I have never heard.

    For years the cable companies where subsidizing the cost of ESPN buy bundling it with other channels. I wonder how many people will pay for ESPN when they see the real cost. Heck I think it is great. I could get the channels I want and pay the real costs of those channels.
    How the heck is this bait and switch. This is actually dumber than the summary that implied that using old missiles to launch satellites was something new.

  • by waddgodd (34934) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:45PM (#37541458) Homepage Journal

    I've seen this issue from both sides, as a consumer, and as working as a CSR for a cable company. The absolutely hilarious part here is that most consumers that want ala carte channels think that their cable bills will go down with ala carte. Needless to say, they won't. What will end up happening is they'll look at the ten or so most popular channels, make them total $20-$30/month, then make the rest of the other 200+ channels total up to the remaining $30-$50 that cable customers know and dislike. THEN the premiums get thrown in. So basically, ala carte will raise your bills for less service. What's not to like from the Cable company's standpoint?

    • by sycorob (180615) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:00PM (#37542656)
      That doesn't make sense to me. Let's assume the cable company won't outright gouge you (big assumption, sure). They'll want to keep overall revenues the same. The ESPN family is more expensive per user, so they can break that out into its own package. Every other channel that pays to be put on cable (to get ad revenues) will be cheaper. The people that absolutely must watch live sports will have to pay more, or ESPN will have to get cheaper. People not interested in sports will not have to subsidize ESPN any more just to get a couple of premium channels.

      Cable is getting real competition from Over the Air and streaming content. They know they have to offer something compelling to get me to stay. If they can get me the basic channels + all of the science channels that are hard to find on streaming for a reasonable cost, I'll stay. If they can't, then I might leave. OTA is free, and free almost always beats better.

  • Live sports and racing are the only thing that could potentially entice me to pay for cable. Any scripted television I might be interested in watching is easily available streaming online or free OTA. I have no interest in actually keeping up with the kardhashians, and thus have no interest in paying $50+/month for crap like E network or MTV. I want to watch college football and motorcycle racing. If I could get all the sports channels for $20/month, I'd fork it over, even if that is a huge mark up.

  • by cornface (900179) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @12:49PM (#37541532)

    Technology has already zoomed past the need for concepts like "channels" and "timeslots."

    The cable companies trying to cling to this as a model will just produce ever more convoluted business plans attempting to delay the obvious and inevitable, much like the music industry before them, and the e-book industry now.

    If their offerings don't compare favorably with ease of use, convenience, and features of the latest version of whatever the pirates and hackers have cooked up (xbmc, sickbeard, couch potato, etc) then they are going to have increasing trouble convincing people that their service is worth the ever inflating prices they are charging for it. I think that most people gravitate towards what is easiest and best before what is free, as evidenced by the success of itunes and other paid music and television services.

    Meh.

    • I was going to reply "Cable? What is this cable you speak of?" but this pretty much sums it up exactly. I don't have cable. My brother recently moved out to his own place, and he doesn't have cable. I don't know anyone who has their own place under the age of 40 who has cable.
  • Kill your TV! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:05PM (#37541794) Journal

    Ok, maybe not kill it, but wound it severely. We dropped cable a year ago and I tell ya, I really appreciate that extra $120 each and every month. It's like getting a raise.

    If you're in a place that will support it, real TV antennas are making a comeback. The price is modest and the content is free! And just about everything else is available off the internet, especially if you don't insist on watching it the very moment it's broadcast.

    I think cable TV is the dial-up service of this century. It's expensive, redundant and unnecessary, but is still popular for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

    A Comcast salescreature comes by about once a month and tries to sell us on switching to a package deal. I say I'm happy with what I have (fibre to the house). He says but your carrier is getting out of the cable business!!! You're not going to get cable TV anymore!!! In the same tone of voice you'd say They're going to cut off your Oxygen!!! I tell him yes, I don't get cable TV , just internet. He looks at me like the refrigerator salesman looked at the Amish couple. They just can't understand not wanting cable TV. It's AOL all over again -- they couldn't understand why I didn't need them anymore when I switched to broadband. "But what about email?" Free. "Our content?" Crap. "How are you going to get to the internet??" Broadband includes the internet, that's kinda the point. And so on.

  • i dont like sports, i lock out espn in my TV, i find it boring and stupid to watch grown men run around on a field chasing a ball or whacking it with a stick or club, and if i can get my basic cable subscription a few dollars cheaper by excluding items i dont want to see is fine with me, same with MTV CMT and VH1 not interested in it, i watch maybe 5 to 8 channels out of 62...
  • I used to have Cable and got rid of it, instead using streaming for TV. Hulu and Netflix. I ended up spending 1/3rd the cost even with doubleing my bandwidth for the Internet side.

    Recently through work I was able to get Dish Network for our corporate rate of $29.00 a month for 300 channels. Guess what. I get 300 channels of nothing and a reminder of why I thought that Cable TV was a waste of money. At the end of the 2 year "contract" because I did not pay for my box and dish/install I will be droppin

  • This is how it will play out in the end:

    Let's say you have a current cable package for $40/mo and you get 80 channels

    The new system will only bundle the less popular channels in the cable package and the popular channels will be separate. Want FX? Extra. Want Comedy Central? Extra. Want Cartoon Network? Extra.

    So now your cable package is still $40/mo, but you only get 50 channels, and not any good ones. Each of the other 30 channels are now an extra $1-5/mo each.

    So you might not have to subsidize sports cha

  • by Slartibartfast (3395) <ken.jots@org> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:50PM (#37542458) Homepage Journal

    So... you get cheap channels, cheap, and pay for expensive ones.

    Am I missing something? How, exactly, does this count as "bait and switch"?

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7NO@SPAMkc.rr.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:56PM (#37542564) Homepage

    If what they are offering is the "free channels" bundled and the ones that cost them money as optional isn't that pretty much what most people want. I'm not a big sports guy beyond my home teams which are nearly always on the local channels so the opportunity to drop 40%-50% of my bill to get rid of channels I dont want would probably encourage me to get cable tv again.

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