Verizon has become the first major pay-TV provider to radically modify its programming bundles. The new plan, which starts at $54.99 per month, will consist of a base package of 36 channels and two add-on “channel packs.”

The core package is comprised of major networks including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, AMC and CNN. Verizon’s channel packs will add anywhere between 10 to 17 additional channels grouped in the following categories: Lifestyle, Entertainment, News & Info, Pop Culture, Kids, Sports and Sports Plus. Customers will be able to mix and match channel packs each month if they so choose.

The new programming plan can also be bundled with Internet and phone service for additional savings.

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Verizon’s move is an obvious answer to the rapidly changing broadcasting landscape. Many longtime pay-TV customers are dropping traditional cable providers in favor of cheaper and more flexible alternatives that include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant Video and others.

Verizon’s offering is similar in structure to Sling TV which also includes a core package of channels as well as add-on bundles that incur an additional fee. Each offering, however, has its own pros and cons.

As a standalone service, Verizon’s latest is rather expensive at $54.99 per month but bundled with Internet service, things become much more attractive. For example, the base TV package, two add-on packs and 25/25 Mbps Internet service can be had for just $64.99 per month.

Going through a traditional cable provider like Verizon also means you’ll have access to a DVR (which usually incurs a monthly hardware rental fee) and no simultaneous user limitations. What's more, watching television won't count against your month data cap. But again, you’re going to pay for those extra amenities.

With Sling TV, you can save a good bit of money each month and are free to add or drop packages whenever you want. Pricing starts at a flat rate of $20 per month for 20 channels with no hidden fees. There’s no DVR, however, and only HBO offers simultaneous streaming.

Verizon’s new package is set to go live on April 19 to its 5.6 million video subscribers. It’s still not a la carte but it’s yet another step closer.

Image via Variety