Cable providers want to eliminate sports channels to lower your bill

By on July 15, 2013, 4:30 PM
cable, streaming, sports, cable providers, cable bill, csn houston

Customers have been campaigning for a la carte television programming for years to no avail. Most feel that having to pay for expensive television packages just to gain access to a select few channels is highway robbery. But why are television bundles so expensive in the first place? Turns out, the cold hard fact is that sports channels are responsible for driving up your monthly bill.

Take away the sports channels and you’re left with a significantly cheaper rate each month. But wait, aren’t sports the number one reason to get cable in the first place? Not exactly, according to Nielsen which found that only four percent of households watch sports outside of the NFL.

Cable providers are well aware of everything mentioned above which is why AT&T and DirecTV are no longer carrying CSN Houston – a regional sports network that serves Texas and its surrounding states. The idea is that if cable providers can get away with eliminating these stations from basic bundles, they can lower monthly rates and appeal to more customers.

AT&T wants to offer the channel as an a la carte option but the network reportedly isn’t interested. That’s because they would earn far less money that way than if they were bundled with a standard cable package.

Despite the expenses associated with sports, it’s still a category that cable providers would be wise to hang on to as pretty much all sports content is watched and enjoyed live. This gives providers a leg up over streaming options like Netflix and Hulu and I suspect is one of the main reasons why many elect to keep cable at all.

User Comments: 21

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Live sports (especially college and NFL football) is the one and only reason why I haven't gone with an HD antenna for local channels and streaming for everything else.

As soon as some entrepreneur figures out a way where I can watch sports without having to sign up for 600 other channels I never watch, they'll have my business.

Guest said:

The problem here are the non-sports channels bundled with those sports packages. A while back we Dish subscribers lost National Geographic when there was a pricing dispute with Fox Sports. Fortunately, things got squared away, but seriously - NatGeo in with dozens of jock channels? That's just the tip of the iceberg. You'd be surprised how many other family, educational and news channels are distributed that way.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Aren't most sports on regular over-the-air broadcast channels?

Only a few are on "Sports" channels. And most the time when I want to watch something (Moto GP, Formula 1, etc) they're not carrying the race - or showing it at a bad time slot and I'm not going to spend an additional $12 per month for a DVR. Cable has far to many little extas and is no longer affordable.

Guest said:

How else can all the sports players get paid millions per game without everyone being forced to pay their cable bills?

Tanstar said:

In sparsely populated areas (anywhere that isn't a major metro area) few people can get the major networks over the air, but I can get all those shows via Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix (and could have all three cheaper than cable). Sports are the only things I watch live on TV and the only reason I still have cable. 9Nails said, "Aren't most sports on regular over-the-air broadcast channels?" Not really, no. Take college sports. Most people who follow college sports follow a team or a conference, not just any old game that is on. Most teams that play FBS (old 1A) football have 80-100% of their games on TV, but the games range from network slots, ESPNs, Fox Sports, CBS College Sports, CSS, etc. You need all those channels to follow one team sometimes.

I would love a la carte TV, but if Comcast gets there by dropping sports channels completely then they'll do it without my money.

howzz1854 said:

I for one like to eat exactly what I ordered on the menu, and not the entire menu.

it'll be interesting to see how this develops in the future.

MrAnderson said:

I used to watch a lot of sports with family live on tv. It never really did anything for me except when we were actually there with tickets.

Sports channels should be bundled together and cost additional to basic cable like HBO and show time. I don't need them especially if the cable price is high because of it.

p51d007 said:

If they got rid of the channels I don't watch, on basic cable, instead of 80 channels, I would only have around 12, and of those, I watch about 3 regularly, the rest, about once a week...maybe.

JC713 JC713 said:

Eh, not sure if this is good or not. What if someone gets into Football overnight xD?!

Hank10156 said:

Comcast wants to lower my bill? Is that what you said?? Hahahahahhahaahahahahahahahaha... Good one Techspot, very funny!

stansfield stansfield said:

SKY in the UK now have a system whereby you can book 24 hours at any time to watch any special sport event that you choose which is halfway to providing sports coverage only rather than having to buy 100 channels of other stuff as well !! Costs £9.99(15usd) for the 24 hours, not cheap but better than the alternative.

Tanstar said:

Comcast wants to lower my bill? Is that what you said?? Hahahahahhahaahahahahahahahaha... Good one Techspot, very funny!

If they can lower your bill while increasing their profits then they are fine with it.

Nobina Nobina said:

I only watch sports channels.

SalaSSin said:

If they can give you the same bill, pretend they lowered it, while increasing their profits then they are fine with it.


Guest said:

They should consider ALL the sports channels as premium channels and let those who wish to have them, pay for the extra service themselves. The ridiculous price of having to pay cable is why I only have internet service. As others have mentioned, you can view other shows via other means, such as hulu, netflix and more.

mailpup mailpup said:

If they really wanted to lower my cable bill, why do they bundle in 30+ Spanish language channels that I don't need?

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

It's a racket with them with how they charge for things. Back in the 80's when all of this started it wasn't that expensive to have everything they had offered like $79 bucks. Today it's like over $300 bucks. Depends on what you are renting and what services you have. I had ditched CATV and Digital phone service 9/12 and got a lot back in money from them also other things. I only kept the Internet that seems to be getting out of control in rates. They tell me "sir you don't have digital phone and cable tv with us" so it's harder to lower that internet bill.

Timonius Timonius said:

*sigh* tell me something I don't know.

wiyosaya said:

As a DISH subscriber in the Northeast US, we have NO regional sports channels since DISH never resolved its dispute with MSG; however, we are still paying FULL price even though we should have a sports channel in our offerings.

That said, I would live just as well as I have been living for the past several years without sports. Anytime Dish wants to put its sports offerings on an ala carte basis, I say let them.

What I see as the real problem here is that many people are becoming more and more unwilling to spend lots of money every month for the convenience of getting a handfull of channels that they really watch, myself included. I am evaluating whether I can get what I watch online rather than through a TV subscription service, and it looks like most of what I watch is available. I would have to pay for some things, however, what I would end up paying would be something like 1/4 to 1/3 the price of what I pay now for my Dish subscription.

Pink Floyd's lyrics from "Nobody Home" have been modernized these days to 500 channels (instead of 13) of s$it on the TV to choose from.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I really never understood why cable companies couldn't "block out" the channel lineups in an ala carte style... Well, other than their typical money-grubbing tendencies, of course.

Seriously, why not offer blocks? Standard broadcast block, movie channel block, sports block, children programming block, etc. Some people would only want the sports block. Some would only want movies or broadcast. Let us divide it up and pay for only what we watch, rather than forcing us to pay a flat fee for everything and just program our favorites list to ignore 80% of the lineup.

In theory, it seems like some content creators and channels could come out better on this plan. If they got a cut of each block that they were a portion of, the actual revenue would be more targeted to where it is actually consumed. If nothing else, this might lead to the elimination of some of the complete drivel channels that are being made up just to fill our channel lineups and justify charging more... A more streamlined approach with a more targeted marketing strategy and mass appeal could be just what the cable companies need to fight the growing trend of ditching cable for online content providers like netflix and hulu. Potentially give customers a lower cost of entry and a more targeted content package, and you may be able to slow or even stop the rate of attrition... And maybe even woo some customers back for low cost cable and good internet.

wiyosaya said:

I don't have a reference handy, however, as I understand it, TV providers, be they cable or satellite or perhaps something else, are prevented from offering ala carte options by content providers.

With streaming TV, though, the model is changing. As I see it, sooner or later content providers are going to get the message and they will have to adapt or be left in the dust.

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