…and I would happily pay a few dollars per month for each, while supplementing them with my Netflix subscription. I don’t even need USA because Law and Order is on Netflix. This approach plus internet would have probably saved me $50 per month for the past year, and I could do without most live sporting events, because I could pick up the NFL on the networks on Sundays and be happy.
As much as I have desired this sort of option for the past decade, cable companies have maintained their cash cow, the bundle. This discussion tends to pop up here and there in the news as cable companies and networks battle over contract renewals and the price point for each channel. The most recent skirmish has been between Viacom and DirecTV. This is not particularly important news by itself, but a recent legal ruling, as an Atlantic article last week points out, might just give the industry the jolt it needs to begin forcing a shift to an à la carte menu of channel offerings.
The debate between DirecTV (a provider) and Viacom (a “content” creator) is about finding the right price that providers should pay for content that most people don’t watch. That’s where bundles are useful. They disguise the price of things we don’t use. But with pay TV growth slowing, we’re at the edge of a revolution. “DirecTV thinks video streaming is eating away at the ratings of channels like MTV and Comedy Central,” Jeff Bercovici writes at Forbes, and the company has “demanded that Viacom give consumers the right to select channels a la carte.”
The Aereo story is different. It’s not about cable. But it is about distributing broadcast networks online. Once sports fans can get the Olympics and NBA and other shows without a cable package, whenever they want it, it could serve alongside Netflix, Hulu and other services to replace the cable bundle.
It’s about time we switch to this model. I will be one of the first to jump on board with the new plan. Viva la televisión revolución!