Cable Companies Moving to “A La Carte” Model?

A lot of us have dreamed about cable companies moving to an a la carte model. We’ve dreamed of lowering our cable bills by only paying for the channels we actually watch. It looks like that dream just might come true. A perfect storm of a dreadful economy and improved digital offerings (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) just might push cable operators to break down and finally go a la carte. According to Reuters:

U.S. cable operators are privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis.

The plan represents a complete reversal from cable operators’ long-held opposition to what is known as “a la carte” programming. Over the last decade, the cable industry battled ferociously with regulators to protect the right to bundle programming, arguing it offered customers the best value.

But executives now say the change is a necessary response to shifting dynamics such as higher carriage costs and using the Web to watch programs, as well as a weak economic recovery that has forced many consumers to cancel cable television subscriptions.

This would kick all sorts of ass! I currently have more than 400 channels through (crap bag) Time Warner Cable. At most, I watch 20 of them. This includes variants of the same network (HBO East, HBO West, HBO Family, etc.). I would love to not having to pay for the rest of the crap. My wallet would love it. My eyes would love it. It would be the best thing to happen to television since TiVo.

Having said all that, cable companies move at a glacial pace. If an a la carte model was adopted, I wouldn’t expect it any time soon. (I’d love to be wrong about that.)

If your cable company went with an a la carte model, how many channels do you think you’d subscribe to? Which ones would you want? If you don’t have cable, would an a la carte system make you subscribe?


Author: RPadTV

21 thoughts on “Cable Companies Moving to “A La Carte” Model?”

  1. That makes sense.

    If it all moves to individual programs being a la carte, I think that would suck because the producers will have to find more ways to make the same if not more money off of commercials.

    Then… if TV commercials happen to just cease to be out of lack of popularity, I fear how ad agencies will get creative in order to compensate.

  2. My wife would have about 15 channels, I might have 2-3. So I'd say only around 20-25 channels at most, and that's giving a lot of leeway. Honestly I would love this model to come to cable providers (and dish providers too!) since I feel like we are paying a premium for only the 10-15 channels my wife wants. I'd be fine with a good internet package, netflix and rapidshare.

    If this comes around this will definitely be something to look into.

  3. I would want want maybe 5 channels, but my girl LOVES watching TV and would probably want about 30 or so.

    All the networks I care about are Discovery, History, and Disney (only for ESPN & ABC). I need to watch the NFL and Celtics basketball for sports. Baseball is meh and hockey aint my thang.

  4. Syfy
    Cartoon Network
    Unspeakable, but used to have "Call for Help"
    That is assuming the price was something I could live with.

  5. Call me cynical, but I don't think this would happen as everyone here thinks it should. Knowing cable companies, I wouldn't doubt if the whole "a-la-carte" thing was just a publicity stunt to make people believe that they can get the individual channels they want in order to foster good will. Like most things, I bet the fine print would tell another story.


    1. Regardless to say that I still believe they would package similar channels together such as Lifetime, Bravo, O, and Hallmark. These groups would probably be limited to about ten or so channels. So someone like me would want the sports, action, and reality groups of channels. Let's say the groups of channels I want come out to $20/month each. That would be $60/month to get the channels I want to watch. Right now, I get over 150 channels for $57. So, if you did the math, you're kind of getting ripped off because it would end up being the same price for the channels you want since the price per channel would skyrocket. Even though you theoretically don't care since you get the channels you want, you are still getting a really bad value. This gimmick would not only be good publicity for the companies, but they would be getting more money for delivering less content to their customers.



      1. They could give you a true a-la-carte choices (still way more expensive per channel cost, however), but they would straddle you with a whole crap-load of hidden fees and usage charges that would artificially inflate the bill.

        I don't really know what the details could be, but I guarantee you that those guys are doing everything they can (collectively) to make sure that we pay as much as humanly possible for the least amount of service provided on their part. On the bright side, I like how an unlikely competitor such as Netflix and Hulu are forcing the cable companies to compete. That is the only way that consumers win, but there still has to be way more competition than there is now.


      2. I see them having the bundles currently offered minus the most popular. Like say moving ESPN or Discovery to a premium channel like HBO. That would be their vision of a la carte.

    1. You are right. Maybe they'll offer high paying jobs that require telecommuting.Sent from my iPhone 4

    2. It's not like this site we talk on about videogames all day on is owned by Comcast or anything.

      I mean… we would NEVER do that… right?

      1. Damn… I'm hung up on the rainbows today, aint I? I didn't even think of it.

        The Rainbow was the first expensive Hollywood restaurant I could think off.

  6. Truth be told, we just recently ditched DirecTV in favor of Hulu Plus and Netflix. That's $14 a month verses the almost $90 we were spending to never have anything we wanted to watch.

    So instead of flipping through 600 channels, finding nothing, and then turning the TV off in disgust, I'm currently burning through old episodes of Farscape, and the wife just finished watching all 2 seasons worth of Dollhouse.

    Now, who knows if Netflix will still be there in a couple of years, and I'm not sure I can go a full football season following colored lines on an ESPN GameCast….but it's hard to argue the math when money is tight.


      Usually there is always someone streaming every game live on Gameday. I'm sure there are other methods… but this is how I survive Steeler seasons living in CA.

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