Cable operators are said to be mulling over the idea of offering channels “a la carte” in an effort to combat increasing popularity from online video streaming providers and regain lost subscribers. Such a move would represent a massive shift in how providers have traditionally offered programming to customers, as reported by Reuters.
Consumers have been asking for such a model for as long as I can remember but providers had little reason to oblige. With no competition in the market in terms of alternate delivery methods, programmers were free to bundle channels together, forcing the customer to subscribe to channels they didn’t necessarily want in order to have access to a few that they were interested in.
But with new online delivery methods, higher programming production costs and a slow economy, cable operators may have to force programmers to unbundle networks and let customers subscribe only to the channels they are interested in. Comcast and Time Warner Cable collectively reported a loss of 1.2 million video customers in the last year ending on June 30.
"We feel that some of those expensive channels should be offered a la carte so only those people who want to watch them actually pay for them," said Jerry Kent, chief executive of Suddenlink, which has 1.3 million cable customers.
Allowing customers to opt out of certain channels in a package could save viewers a lot of money. For example, EPSN is the most expensive channel in the US at around $4 per subscriber. Customers not interested in sports could nix this and other ESPN channels from their lineup.
There’s no doubt that such a move would have a significant impact on major networks and they are likely to fight a shift.
Are you in favor of a la carte service, are you happy with your current bundle or have you washed your hands completely of traditional paid television programming?