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Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service 108

An anonymous reader writes: One of the reasons people have been fleeing cable TV in droves is the idea that they're paying for hundreds of channels but only using a handful. Even though that's not really true, Verizon is now working on an internet TV service that lets people pick and pay for only the channels they want. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said, "I think everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what is that transition look like ... I don't think there is anyone that would stand up here and say the only way it's going to be offered five years from now is linear and it's going to be tied to your TV set because frankly they will miss the market and they will be the ones left behind."
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Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @05:54PM (#47894081)
    It is also about watching whatever you want, whenever you want. Not just Thursdays at 9:00... People no longer want to schedule their lives around the broadcast schedule.
    • Exactly.

      But I would most people to continue paying for cable tv. Someone has to foot the bill, making tv shows and content is expensive.

      But if, say, Netflix and similar services were to ever to become the "norm" and cable tv to begin to erode, I think the undesirable qualities of cable TV would find their way into Netflix and similar services.

      I don't want streaming to be loaded up with advertising, as an example. But cable tv is the main venue for advertising today and there are tens of billions of
      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @07:18PM (#47894505) Journal

        But I would most people to continue paying for cable tv. Someone has to foot the bill, making tv shows and content is expensive.

        How about the people who watch those shows? Why should I pay for the most expensive group of non-premium channels (ESPN) when I never, ever watch any ESPN channels? Today, my choice is limited to paying for ESPN or not getting the channels I really want (BBC*)

        • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:29PM (#47895027)

          The referenced article about cord-cutting being a fantasy is just outright wrong. First, it's not talking about cord-cutting but instead about ala-carte payments, very different things. I can guarantee my $7 a month is economically better than $70 a month I used to pay.

          Next, the assumptions are that if you stop paying things like the ESPN fees that someone else is going to pay more. Well guess what, those who won't pay the ESPN fee will be saving money! It is not the television viewer's goal to try to optimize the average amount spent across all viewers, but instead to try to get an economical value for themselves alone without regard to other people. It is also not the television viewer's goal to try to create a sustainable market for cable providers, and they have no incentive at all to try to maintain current revenue for ESPN or AMC yet the article seems to imply that this is important. If ESPN went out of business because I failed to subsidize them I still would not shed any tears.

          The assumption that current television pricing is a good deal for everyone makes the ridiculous assumption that everyone wants to watch TV or considers it affordable. Yes, a $80,000 Lamborghini is a great deal but that doesn't mean everyone will want to pay that since many will still want the $15,000 Honda instead. The thing is a lot of people are finding cheaper ways to get the amount of TV they like, and some people are even deciding not to watch any TV at all. So it is indeed working to cut the cord.

          The author sounds like the audience was supposed to be television execs rather than actual consumers. The whole argument sounds like a whine to keep paying huge amounts of money so that we can subsidize other people like him.

          • It sounded to me like the author just wants some of us to continue to subsidize his ESPN viewing.
            There is literally nothing on basic cable I miss after 15 years of no cable. HBO was extra anyway.
      • I think the undesirable qualities of cable TV would find their way into Netflix and similar services.

        Your Netflix bill is already paying for Orange is the New Black and House of Cards -- these are very good shows, so that's a saving grace, but it's not like you can tell Netflix to take $2 off your bill in order to skip their original programming. And presumably as Netflix expands its original content offerings, your bill is going to be subsidizing a lot of content you couldn't care less about. Shops like

        • Yes maybe I am subsidizing some shows on Netflix I don't want to see. But at $7 a month I'm much more willing to put up with it than under my old $70/month satellite bill (or $100+ if I were cable instead).

          If netflix prices get up into ridiculous range that cable/satellite current has, then hopefully someone else will come along and undercut them and start the cycle over. Eventually the high priced guys might take a hint and cut the costs instead of assuming there's some law that mandates we keep paying w

          • But even at $7 a month it's not clear it's worth as much as one HBO, it's first-run original programming is pretty thin, all you've got is the back catalogue, which competitors can easily replicate -- just as Amazon has. If a shop like Netflix wants to keep subscribers they have to offer something beyond just the library, in a cost game there's not much question an Amazon can destroy them -- the original programming is the tail that wags the dog, they have to constantly produce it an improve it. HBO's su

            • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

              they have to constantly produce it an improve it

              Netflix told shareholders it's currently filming [qz.com] eight new and continuing series, two of which are big hits with fans and drawing subscribers by themselves, of which there are 50 million as of Q2 2014. I noticed in that list they omitted at least one Netflix property of which I'm personally a fan, so it's not comprehensive.

              You're arguing with success here, for some strange reason. Yes, Netflix doesn't have Warner Bros. or Paramount profits. That's not a bad thing. Their operating income is ~$228e6 and t

              • They're commoditizing media and I can't think of a single thing we're going to lose as a consequence that I'm going to miss.

                I work in media.

            • Never liked HBO, haven't seen it in a decade. Not worth the cost for me. Original programming maybe, but not worth the cost for me when I can wait a few years and it'll show up somewhere else.

              Amazon is a wannabe players, a late comer to the game who flashes around a name with most of their customers comprised of people who mostly want discounted shipping. Sure they could kill Netflix, but only by deliberately running their streaming service at a loss rather than be competing straight on.

              Original programm

            • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
              If it's so easily replicable, why hasn't it been replicated?
              Hulu, more expensive and always has ads even with subscription.
              Amazon, expensive up front or per episode costs.
              Apple, expensive per episode pricing.
              others, no selection or commercials.

              In all, I find netflix's back catalog very compelling and well worth $7 / month. The original programming is icing on the cake.
        • 8$ is *nothing* compared to a cable bill (and doesn't have ads)

          • by Anonymous Coward

            8$ is *nothing* compared to a cable bill (and doesn't have ads)

            I pay about $70 a month for internet (I investigated just getting internet without TV or phone). It costs $10 a month for phone and another $10 for cable TV. I could cut the cord and stop paying for cable, but I still need internet if I want to watch Netflix. $8 is not nothing compared to $10.

            A la carte is not going to save consumers money because it doesn't reduce costs. Yes, I stop paying for ESPN, but my neighbor stops paying for SyFy. Both channels increase how much they charge per person because t

        • by pepty ( 1976012 )

          The problem with "a la carte cable channels" is the presumption that people want channels. They want shows that are suited to their tastes. The center of value is the program, that's what brings in the people, but due to underlying economics, the center of costs remains the channel, this Netflix must offer its subscription on a channel-wise, take-it-all or leave-it-all basis.

          Increasingly I'd say that's more true of cordcutters than cable subscribers. Some folks want a continuous background of thematically related stuff they can vaguely watch for hours and hours at a time: a channel. The underlying economics you mentioned make that much harder for Netflix or anyone else whose content delivery costs are directionally proportional to the amount of content consumed per customer. Cable companies traditional delivery costs were pretty much the same whether you left the TV on 24/7 or

      • Someone has to foot the bill, making tv shows and content is expensive.
         
        Otherwise what? They're going to start shoving ads down our throats?

        Oh, wait...

        • by porges ( 58715 )

          Someone has to foot the bill, making tv shows and content is expensive.

          Otherwise what? They're going to start shoving ads down our throats?

          Oh, wait...

          I think it's fair to consider him writing in opposition to people saying "if we had ala carte channels, we could all get the same stuff for less money". So, keeping "the same stuff" is part of the goal.

          To most consumers, "keeping the total of the country's payments to the networks the same" isn't a goal, to put it mildly, which is why the rest of his argument is useless.

      • I'll let someone else foot the bill thank you very much. Nothing is forcing me to watch this stuff or forcing me to pay for it.

        And I hope it doesn't surprise anyone to learn this, but no one actually has to foot the bill at all. The world will not come to an end if these television companies go bankrupt or if advertising companies go bankrupt.

    • It is also about watching whatever you want, whenever you want. Not just Thursdays at 9:00... People no longer want to schedule their lives around the broadcast schedule.

      Welcome to the 1980s, houstonbofh.

      • It is also about watching whatever you want, whenever you want. Not just Thursdays at 9:00... People no longer want to schedule their lives around the broadcast schedule.

        Welcome to the 1980s, houstonbofh.

        We got there a long time ago. Content companies are still figuring it out.

        • I was just trying to be a little bit sarcastic, in that I (and many many many others) were using VCRs in the 1980s to "watch whatever I want, whenever I want"... and nowadays (and for the last decade for me) with DVRs.

          It's not a new thing.

          • I was just trying to be a little bit sarcastic, in that I (and many many many others) were using VCRs in the 1980s to "watch whatever I want, whenever I want"... and nowadays (and for the last decade for me) with DVRs.

            It's not a new thing.

            And yet, somehow the networks still don't get it... Look at the international release delays, among other things...

    • It is also about watching whatever you want, whenever you want. Not just Thursdays at 9:00... People no longer want to schedule their lives around the broadcast schedule.

      But if I only watch, say 5 channels, why should I pay for another 95? Verizon has the right idea

  • by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @05:55PM (#47894089)
    a lot of niche content will no longer get funded, so choice might actually be lessened

    but more importantly the cable operators will no longer get their $120+ a month from nearly every household in the US

    the kids have already moved on to streams though -so the corps are making the money back through non flat rate wifi billings, data overage fees, etc

    -I'm just sayin'
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So maybe people should pay for their niche programming and if the programming can't make it on price then it isn't made. Some TV shows not getting made is not the worst thing in the world.

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      a lot of niche content will no longer get funded, so choice might actually be lessened

      If not enough people are watching it to get it funded in an al a carte environment, then it's not worth funding in the first place.

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @07:04PM (#47894449) Journal

        Note that the reverse trend is happening. Thanks to the very low cost of production and distribution, there are many, many, many alternate "shows" out there that you can watch.

        Have you missed youtube entirely? What rock have you been hiding under? Also, the place with the most interesting display of documentaries and "non-primary" content is NetFlix. There is a *ridiculous* amount of youtube channels with interesting content.

        For example, as a violinist, I like Taylor Davis' work immensely [youtube.com] - she mixes violin and many of the themes to movies and games I've loved....

        Remember when MTV was a close as you could get to stuff like this?

        • I may br showing my age but I remember when MTV showed music videos.
        • Note that the reverse trend is happening. Thanks to the very low cost of production and distribution, there are many, many, many alternate "shows" out there that you can watch.

          As a happy contributor to Red Letter Media on Patreon, I've found that the quality of this kind of indie, samizdat prodcutions to be pretty uneven, it'd be hard to get any kind of mass penetration with it. From a producer's perspective, that's the big peril of going YouTube -- you'll definitely get your stuff out there, and you may e

    • Some argue the opposite. For example, the majority of people in my area do not speak spanish. Spanish language stations essentially make nothing per subscriber (pennies). If, I was instead able to extract a few dollars a month from each person that wants to view my show.. (ie, spanish speakers in the midwest) that might (depending on the number of people) be much, much more income.

    • Look at print media. Niche publications are dying out left and right, yet we have an abundance of media covering more niches than ever. Granted, many of these new media forms, such as blogs, are of a decidedly less formal and professional nature than those that have preceded them, but we're by no means starved for the content we want, since if the demand still exists, someone will put it together. Tech magazines in many cases had to appeal to the masses if they wanted to be able to stay afloat, but most blo

  • Nothing to see here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @05:56PM (#47894097) Homepage

    Its for mobile only. Wake us all up when plain old tv is available by IP (FiOS) a la carte.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @06:00PM (#47894115) Journal

    I see the exact opposite trend. Netflix is growing by gangbusters, but is the epitome of having many shows that "you aren't paying for". It's not a la carte... at all! You pay a flat rate of $8/month and stream whatever you like.

    If you combine horrible customer service, high prices, and synchronized broadcasting, and you have unhappy customers switching to clearly better alternatives. "Paying for channels you don't use" is a symptom. The real problem is that they are horrible companies offering a previous generation, substandard service at ridiculous prices that have risen much faster than inflation.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @06:04PM (#47894147)

    That link about 'myths' of unbundling is horseshit. It fails the basic math test. If everyone was unbundled and only paid for what they watch then we'd have the same number of people watching the same things they watch now. The AGGREGATE money collected in fees would remain the same and it would be distributed proportionately to the same vendors it is now. Nothing would change. The author of that piece of garbage somehow thinks what, that everyone would suddenly be paying $500 a month to watch individual channels???!!! Where would all that extra money go? Man people are stupid sometimes.

    Obviously the Cable Cos. know all of this. They don't want to unbundle because it would cut customer's bills, they don't like it because once you stop having ESPN on your dial you'll forget it exists and pretty soon you'll only be paying for what you actually watch, and if that's cheap shows THEN they really will get a lot less revenue. Beyond that the ad revenue drops because people will just skip ESPN if they only watch it 5 times a year. Indeed, once the customer's start picking what they want to pay for the Cable Co becomes just what it should be, an ISP.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      More likely very heavy TV viewers would pay more because they use more channels. Light viewers would pay less.

    • I would gladly pay the SAME amount if I could literally turn off the channels I don't watch.

      Yes, I KNOW you can disable channels e.g. in a Tivo (IIRC, at least in some cable company boxes, you STILL can't do that simple thing).

      But I mean literally turn them off. Why? I want to give positive reinforcement to ACTUALLY the channels I want, and remove the home shopping & religious channels, even if they are subsidizing part of my bill.. (But I would also be removing some channels that ARE being paid throu

    • Show your work?

      I'm not wasting time proving you wrong if you have put zero effort in.

      Start with any article on blackouts due to pricing disagreements, and work your way up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want "channels" I want shows and movies. That's the real future.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And I want a toilet seat made out of gold. What is your point?

    • I believe that the boat for à la carte channel lineups has already sailed. Back during the 1990s when digital cable and mini-sat were starting to hit their prime, à la carte channel lineups would have been cutting edge.

      But technology has since moved forward, and à la carte programming is now a mature market. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime and the like give you access to individual shows at any time. And you now have an entire generation that has been raised with DVRs, PPV and BitTorren

  • Not really true? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TopSpin ( 753 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @06:08PM (#47894175) Journal

    The link that supposedly refutes the argument that people are paying for things they wouldn't otherwise pay for doesn't actually refute anything. Rather, it characterizes the current situation as "socialism"; "Cable TV is socialism that works."

    I do not want to contribute to ESPN. Nor the myrid "shopping" channels. Or the "Christian" networks. Or any of the other dreck that pollutes this world. Even if that means the things I do want aren't as well subsidized for the lack of fuhtbawl knuckle-heads.

    Whatever.... I can't remember how long ago it was that I last paid a cable bill. My vote has been cast. Join me and cut these bloodsuckers off. You won't miss it.

    • Agreed. Right now I have no good way to vote down the oodles of crap channels, or to really vote up my tastes. Worse yet, the price keeps going up faster than my paycheck inflation. So we dropped it and have no regrets. We watch less total TV, and pay vastly less to get the handful of shows we actually want. Sadly Hulu still has ads, and I am getting close to dropping it too.

      I am fine with some bundling, but really want to some option to be able to defund ESPN, QVC, Christian Blab, "History" Channel, T

    • The link read a lot like Cable Company Astroturfing, trying to obfuscate the issue. Its really quite simple, that when you pay for a bundle, your money is going to fund channels many of which you utterly despise and which you do not want to have any part in supporting. The problem is, you can't get the channels you might want unless you pay for the ones you dont.

  • Who watches TV these days.

    • Who watches TV these days.

      Most nights when people are watching TV I'm out walking the dog. Judging by the number of TVs I see glowing in everyone's living rooms as I walk by, I'd say a lot of people are still watching TV these days.

    • Who watches TV these days.

      Old people.

      A cohort of TV viewers die every day and are not replaced by younger ones.

  • Now that people aren't watching live television, probably aren't even watching *television*, and don't use television as the delivery method for their entertainment and are dropping cable, they want to roll out a la carte?

    Thanks, but it's not 1999-2003, anymore. You need to deliver the content I want, when I want it, on whatever device I want it, through whatever delivery method I want it, for a very reasonable price. Cable subscriptions, live television, and television-bound viewing is something I ditched

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @06:48PM (#47894387) Homepage

    I posit that the rise of Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and the like allowed people to share and discuss about things they actually care about, rather than TV shows or even movies. Hell, I spend more time on /. than watching TV - and I'm increasingly feeling like most of my family is the same (not on /., but you get the picture).

    For those who still watch TV, TiVo and Netflix have set the standards too high for many to really give a crap about last century's TV model anymore.

  • comcast will just lower there cap to kill this

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @07:31PM (#47894549)

    http://www.dslreports.com/show... [dslreports.com]

    we need this in the USA

    • Our national broadcaster (SRC/CBC) would prefer to have people pay to get their signal, even if they are financed by our taxes and advertisers. I'm pretty sure TVA (owned by Quebecor) and CTV (Bell), Global (Shaw) and CITY-TV (Rogers) would like that too...

  • The problem with "Ala-cart" is, you can't get just the 1 channel you want, you get the "Viacom" channels or the "Turner" channels or the "Fox" channels etc. If you want just news channels you have to buy 3 or more channel "groups" to get Fox News, CNN, MSNBC (or whatever). There wont be a time soon when you can just order the specific channel you want, the parent companies wants all their programming sold together.
    • WRONG. What you are describing is NOT ala-carte, its just another form of bundling. Real ala-carte is where you can buy JUST one or more of the channels that you want with nothing else, from all of the channels available. So stop using cables own broken form of so called ala-carte to try to suggest people dont want the real thing.

  • by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:03PM (#47894933) Homepage
    Cut cable. Streaming content. OTA with DVR. Don't miss cable. Oh, and the $6 per month "sports fee" is what finally made me dump cable. The sheer arrogance that I'll buy a service (don't watch sports) because I have no choice....ESPN LOST them a viewer due to this fee, and $1000 less per year to the cable co. buh bye !!
  • Its hard to think that anyone can honestly say that a large percentage of users do not watch only a small fraction of channels in their cable package, thus funding channels they will never use and may even despise intensely. Dismantling the everything or nothing bundling is about allowing people to opt out of funding mind numbing garbage that they may even despise and want to be no part of. I should have a right to not support programming that I think is total rubbish just to get the programming that I want

  • To me ala cart means picking the shows you want, not the channels. Even on channels I like, 90% of whtat they have is crap I don't watch.

    Torrents, man. Season torrents of shows. That's the way to go.

    • I agree with you that a-la-carte should be by show, not by channel, but I can't agree with your logic of torrenting everything. If you want entertainment, then you really ought to pay the creator of that entertainment. It wasn't free to produce, and you get value out of it, so you should pay. If you didn't get any value, you wouldn't waste time watching it.

      Might I suggest a compromise? Pull out your credit card and make a good faith effort to pay for what you watch. If that option isn't available, see if th

      • by neminem ( 561346 )

        "If you want entertainment, then you really ought to pay the creator of that entertainment."

        The problem is that by paying for cable, that is *not* what you're doing. It's several steps back from actually paying the people creating the content, to the point where they get basically crap-all out of it. I would *love* to pay the people responsible for creating the content; I have less love for the concept of most of my money going to the people screwing us over at [whichever one cable company your area happens

        • So if you read what I wrote, I did not suggest returning to paying for cable television. I suggested making a good faith effort to pay for the specific content that he wanted to watch.

          This is exactly what I do personally, by the way. I cut the cord a while ago, but I really like watching live baseball. So I pay for a subscription to MLB.tv and watch it on my Roku box. There are a few other shows that my family enjoys but aren't on network TV, so I pay for those specific shows, as well. But that's it. I'm sa

  • Why should people have to pay for cable, pay for "TV channels", and pay for bandwidth. Why can't they just stfu, be an ISP, and let people tf alone?

  • Along with all the other fine comments taking a shot at the linked article "Cord Cutting Fantasies", I too have something small to add...

    [...] to maintain their current revenues.

    The tone I read in the argument contends that the content providers are necessarily entitled to have the revenues they do. I dispute that presumtion. I think the revenues of some of the content providers is higher than it rightfully should be because of collusion and other illegitimate market powers certain providers have.

    I cancelled my cable TV some months ago when the

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