Friday, November 19, 2010

Will Cable Bills Ever Represent Only Content You Want?

Besides news programs and sporting events, I hardly ever watch live television. So while I enjoy watching my shows on the TV screen through my DVR instead of a small computer screen, I would welcome an opportunity to save some money if it meant I could still get the basics. With so many of younger folks aren’t getting cable when they move into their own place and others are dropping it due to financial difficulties, it appears as though there are some cable companies that are finally realizing that they should providing cheaper options to customers. The question is, whether they are actually doing enough to keep customers from completely abandoning their product.

Time Warner Cable, which serves large portions of New York and other states, is one of the cable companies exploring ways of providing a cheaper product. According to the NY Times, Time Warner is going to be offering customers in NYC a package called “TV Essentials.”
For roughly half the cost of Time Warner Cable’s current cable TV package, customers will receive ESPN News but not ESPN; TBS but not TNT; CNN but not Fox News or MSNBC. A market trial will begin in New York on Monday, a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said, and in the company’s northeastern Ohio market on Dec. 15.

The slimmed-down package, called TV Essentials, is an experiment for Time Warner Cable and for the television distribution business, which generally bundles as many channels as possible at the highest price possible.
This move is good for customers (and also a good business venture for Time Warner), but it’s still not a good fit a lot of folks. As I said at the top of this post, for instance, I primarily am keeping my cable because I want to watch the news and sports. The “TV Essentials” package, however, cuts many of the news channels that I watch and some of the sports networks. I bring this up to say; why not let me pick the individual channels that I want to actually pay for?

Allowing people to pick the individual channels they want would save people like myself a lot of money. It would also bring in some customers who would be willing to pay relatively small amounts and only for content they actually want. So while this isn’t going to be happening immediately, the question is whether the rise of TV shows being available online and people sick of paying for content they don’t use will eventually result in this being an option being provided by cable companies.

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