Time for Cable a la Carte

Nov 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A Los Angeles Times columnist says it’s time for the cable industry to switch to an a la carte system that would allow subscribers to pay only for the channels they want to watch. “I never watch ESPN. When I watch TV, it’s usually CNN, CNBC or a movie channel. On an a la carte basis, I could probably get the handful of channels I like for pocket change,” David Lazarus writes.
—Jon Lafayette


  1. Ala-Cart would be nice. However, There are a couple of things to look at:
    1) The higher cost of ala carte. I guarentee that the prices will higher, than normal cable, per channel. 120% guarentee. My local company made it’s Toledo and NW Ohio customers PAY for stations that are free. You know, like WGN, Flix, at one point WTBS, etc. With that scam going on, I clearly see Buckeye CableSystem robbing us blind with higher costs.
    2) The selection is not there. I get all 7 nets, which are not on Buckeye Cable. Why pay for stations I cannot get on cable.
    3) Plus thier own “Toledo’s CW” (poor branding and identication slogan) on cable channel 5 (WT05 Toledo), looks cheesy, sounds cheesy with Chuck Matthews voiceing (formerly on WTOD-AM). It’s bargain basement, with “Will and Grace on the CW network”, aka, sat feed. Just like CW 5 in Lansing, MI (located on 53-2). The image/presentation is not portayed high enough to keep me interested. This sat station is basically a translator staion, on cable. How cheap looking. I’d never advertise there, due to a clear lack of ideas.
    4) What kind of packages are they going to offer, for a discount? Will it only be on special for a month, 6 months… then go up in price???
    Just a few things to ponder, as we debate.
    I hope the cables see this and thnk about it.

  2. A La Carte is French for “expensive”. Consumers would pay more and get less.

  3. I’ve always been wary of the a la carte concept. I think it has the potential to be disastrous for both the cable industry and the consumer, reducing choice, curtailing impulse viewing, making cross-channel promotion more difficult, and eliminating economies of scale that benefit viewers. However, I do think the cable industry would be well advised to become more consumer-friendly in the way it packages and prices channels, especially in the current economic climate. Surely there is a middle ground somewhere that would make both sides happy.

  4. Andy is correct…a la carte is French for expensive. Packaged channels in most cable lineups are usually offered that way (a) because the provider contract insisted on packaged presence (for protection) or (b) because the rate paid for the service by the cable operator was so significantly lower (than a la carte) that the program provider got their preference for packaged presence with a carrot. The analog world in cable delivery will outlive the great divide in 2009 also dictates some of the packaging.

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