Bundled Cable Deathwatch: Sony Promises A La Carte Channels

The Associated Press

In an announcement Tuesday, Sony claims that starting next month, through its Playstation Vue streaming service, the company will offer a la carte subscriptions to whatever individual channels customers choose to pay for. For now, this service is only available in certain cities, but if it proves successful, we are witnessing another piece of the puzzle fall into place that will hopefully destroy the bundled cable package model.

Because Sony didn’t specify exactly which channels would be offered individually, Deadline is skeptical:

It remains to be seen whether any of the most popular cable channels such as ESPN, USA, TNT, or FX will be offered a la carte. It would be a major change if they are. Their parent companies insist that cable and satellite distributors offer them and other services as part of the expanded basic bundle — which is why subscribers end up paying for lots of channels that they don’t watch.

The parent companies that force your current cable and satellite providers to add all those channels no one watches, have everything to lose in an a la carte world. Studies have shown that the average bundled television customer watches only around 8 channels. Nevertheless, because we’re forced to subscribe to cable in these bundled packages, we are still paying for loads of channels we never watch.

Moreover, this racket is what keeps too many toxic networks like MSNBC, MTV, and CNN on the air and profitable. Nobody watches these left-wing networks but they still get a sweet piece of your cable bill. MSNBC and CNN clear hundreds of millions of dollars a year this way. If these networks had to survive only on advertising rates set by viewership numbers, they would probably file bankruptcy and vanish.

If you believe at all in a culture based on merit as opposed to the left-wing affirmative action instituted by multinational corporations determined to culturally and financially rape the American middle class, destroying the bundled cable business model is of major importance

This is why Deadline is skeptical Sony’s la carte program will include popular channels. Holding on to the bundled cable model is just too important to providers. It is a golden goose that literally adds billions of annual dollars to everyone’s bottom line.

So, I am also skeptical.

But here is the thing: in the long run,  any a la carte offering is a game changer … for two reasons:

  1. For the first time, people will be exposed to a la carte programming and discover they like it. The pressure for more a la carte programming will then increase. People have been so institutionalized by these socialist bundled cable packages, some of them don’t even realize there are other ways to deliver television.
  2. Even if the channels offered a la carte are not popular now, these same channels will have a HUGE incentive to attract customers. Unlike CNN, these channels can’t just muscle their way onto everyone’s cable package and get fat and rich off of that. These a la carte channels will have to produce programming to make them desirable to as many customers as possible — you know, like Netflix.

Think about it: When Netflix Streaming first came alive, it was a junky a la carte option. Netflix wasn’t live streaming its programming like these cable channels will, but it was still an a la carte channel — just one where you could watch all of its programming whenever you wanted.

To attract more customers. Netflix not only spent billions to license streaming content from others, it created its own must-watch programs like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.”

This is the business model for any channel that goes a la carte, and in this environment there are no losers. If you like the channel, you pay for it. If you don’t like the channel, you are not forced through an immoral business model to pay for it.

Before cable, this is how television used to be. A crappy, low-rated, left-wing hate network like CNN could never survive in a truly competitive environment. Moreover, YOU weren’t forced to pay to keep a CNN on the air.

Today you are.

Why do CNN and MTV and MSNBC suck? Because they can make tons of money simply by existing.

Why is Netflix inexpensive, awesome, and offer a ton of programming for everyone? Because Netflix has no other choice. It’s a standalone service.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               


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