What's keeping A-la-Carte from becoming a reality?

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aa9vi

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Sep 14, 2007
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With the annual ~$5 monthly package increases every year that is often greater than the rate of inflation or some of our paycheck raises I imagine many are wondering why they can't get a-la-carte, i.e. pay for only the individual channels you want. I started thinking the other day how ESPN has really trended downward with content yet their subscriber fees lead the pack. I don't watch many stations that I am paying a fee each month. I am effectively subsidizing poor ratings and floating their network like a welfare recipient. So, what really is keeping a-la-carte from becoming a reality given the high costs of the package programming and that the consumer is forced to pay for many useless networks they could care less about? Wouldn't this also level the playing field with the OTA channels and the decided disadvantage they are at for subscriber fees?
 

lparsons21

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Here's the reason in a nutshell - MONEY!

A-la-carte wouldn't end up saving you any of it. Each channel would be more expensive and some channels you might really like that are very niche, would disappear completely.
 

charper1

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May 18, 2004
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Yep, À la carte doesn't allow for the revenue streams that provides MUCH more than the basic programming and a bottom line. There is hardware and tech development and original programming, unique packaging and such; just to name a few.

À la carte saves the end user a few bucks but at the cost of a very inferior and likely low end product; assuming it would survive at all.
 

gadgtfreek

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May 29, 2006
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Because many of these groups own like 10 channels, and you arent going to get just one. You want Syfy? Well, you get all 50 siblings too :)
 

BrettStah

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Jan 23, 2004
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elwaylite said:
Because many of these groups own like 10 channels, and you arent going to get just one. You want Syfy? Well, you get all 50 siblings too :)

Or, it'll be $20/month for one channel, or all 10 for $25.
 

ProfStata

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Sep 11, 2003
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A-la-carte would save money for only minority of customers. If it happened, all channels would go up in price.
 

rapidturtle

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Jun 3, 2010
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It is a shame though. Out of 200 channels, how many do each of us really watch. I bet my family spends 70% of the time watching the major networks, and then no more than 10 of the cable channels for the rest of the time.
 

BrettStah

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Jan 23, 2004
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rapidturtle said:
It is a shame though. Out of 200 channels, how many do each of us really watch. I bet my family spends 70% of the time watching the major networks, and then no more than 10 of the cable channels for the rest of the time.

Yes, but each family's specific "no more than 10 of the cable channels" can be wildly different.
 

msrebel

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Aug 23, 2006
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I would rather pay 25 dollars a month for a few channels than pay 80 or 90 for a bunch of junk channels that I never watch.
 

markfp-1

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Feb 13, 2005
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I think that the average consumer in this country has the "bigger is better" mentality. Given a choice, and as long as they can afford it, they'd choose 200 channels (most of which they don't watch) over 10 or 15 they do.
 

JerseyMatt

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Sep 17, 2010
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You do realize that even though our monthly costs have been inching up (they're pretty much keyed directly to inflation), the relative cost per channel has plummeted over the past couple decades, right? 20 years ago, my parents used to pay Cablevision (back when they were UACC then TCI Cable) about $60 a month for ANALOG expanded basic and HBO. That was what, maybe 40 channels (and ONE HBO) total including all the public access, PBS, and spanish channels? (I know one of the boxes we had only went up to channel 33, so it was even less than that at one time). Now for about $80 you get a couple hundred channels (maybe 50-75 that have decent stuff on at any given time), and every premium is a multiplex. Granted you don't watch them all, but they're there.
 
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TNGTony

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Sep 7, 2003
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All these same old (and inaccurate media propaganda disguised as actual) arguments about what a bad idea a la carte is...
ECONOMICS would make it work. As more and more people start finding other ways to entertain themselves and and find other ways to view their favorite programs, a la carte is really the ONLY way cable and satellite will survive in the long run.

The ONLY thing preventing a la carte from taking off are the channel provider's refusal to UN-BUNDLE their suite of channels. Disney/ABC, Viacom and so forth will not stand for it.

Anyone remember Dish Network's Dish Pix? 10 channels you chose for 15 bucks a month? It didn't fall apart because subscribers or Dish didn't want to keep the package. It fell apart because the providers, one by one, removed their channels from the menu because they insisted on having all the channels come together as part of the basic package. The HD only package almost fell apart for the same reason.

When I look at how many channels I watch, 10 cable channels would pretty much fit the bill. Even if it's double the price it was in the late 90s, it would still be much less than I am paying now and I would get only the channels I actually watch!
 

Jimbo

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Jul 14, 2005
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All these same old (and inaccurate media propaganda disguised as actual) arguments about what a bad idea a la carte is...
ECONOMICS would make it work. As more and more people start finding other ways to entertain themselves and and find other ways to view their favorite programs, a la carte is really the ONLY way cable and satellite will survive in the long run.

The ONLY thing preventing a la carte from taking off are the channel provider's refusal to UN-BUNDLE their suite of channels. Disney/ABC, Viacom and so forth will not stand for it.

Anyone remember Dish Network's Dish Pix? 10 channels you chose for 15 bucks a month? It didn't fall apart because subscribers or Dish didn't want to keep the package. It fell apart because the providers, one by one, removed their channels from the menu because they insisted on having all the channels come together as part of the basic package. The HD only package almost fell apart for the same reason.

When I look at how many channels I watch, 10 cable channels would pretty much fit the bill. Even if it's double the price it was in the late 90s, it would still be much less than I am paying now and I would get only the channels I actually watch!

What possible reason would you as a PROVIDER have for WANTING to unBundle channels that you own ?
All the other providers are required to accept the good with the not so good.

IF you decided to UnBundle said channels you would find channels that would cost $ 20 per MONTH EACH.

You would NOT be saving money in any way.
 

Mr Tony

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Nov 17, 2003
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Anyone remember Dish Network's Dish Pix? 10 channels you chose for 15 bucks a month? It didn't fall apart because subscribers or Dish didn't want to keep the package. It fell apart because the providers, one by one, removed their channels from the menu because they insisted on having all the channels come together as part of the basic package. The HD only package almost fell apart for the same reason.

But then again there were only like 38 channels to choose from. I still have a pamphlet that shows it. It says "Any 10 services from AT40 EXCEPT Disney".

lots more channels to choose from now ;)
 

ProfStata

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 11, 2003
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Iceberg said:
But then again there were only like 38 channels to choose from. I still have a pamphlet that shows it. It says "Any 10 services from AT40 EXCEPT Disney".

lots more channels to choose from now ;)

And the per channel price then was more than the vast majority of channels get now.
 

TNGTony

Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
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Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
The providers have zero incentive to unbundle their channels. That is the problem. The predictions of gloom and doom and $50 bills for 5 channels are insane! Economics would not allow that! A la carte programming could be a viable reality where you would actually buy ONLY what you want. And keep in mind that at no point did I say we should abolish packages. When I go to McDonald's sometimes I want the #2 meal, sometimes I just want fries or a drink. I can even just buy the hamburger patty! Sure the bundle price is cheaper as a whole, but not if I just want the burger and a coke!

Why not give that choice to cable/satellite subscribers?
 

TNGTony

Unashamed Bengal Fan
Sep 7, 2003
10,019
804
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
But the number of actual channel owners has gone DOWN. The number of channels is irrelevant, really. It has to do with the quality of programming one wants to watch and is willing to pay for! So what if there's 200 channels to choose from? If you want more, you pay more. If a package is worth the difference, you take the package. It's about choice and nothing more. Not everyone is a channel horder!
 
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