"A La Carte" Cable Could Be Coming to a TV Near You

"A La Carte" Cable Could Be Coming to a TV Near You

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Taryn Williford
Sep 30, 2011

Cable subscriber? You probably have over 787 channels to choose from each night, and yet you probably only watch 7 or 8 of them. But we have good news ...we think. In an effort to compete with web TV, cable operators are pushing programmers to unbundle their networks and offer cable TV channels on a choosy "a la carte" plan. It seems like a better deal, but could it actually be more costly for some subscribers?

If you've ever dreamed of a life where you only paid for the channels you watch, it might be coming sooner than you think. Reuters reports that cable operators are privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis.

Although the cable industry has battled "a la carte" programming before, they're changing their tune due to a few different factors, including the myriad of former cable customers who cancel their subscriptions to watch TV over the web:

Executives now say the change is a necessary response to shifting dynamics such as higher carriage costs and using the Web to watch programs, as well as a weak economic recovery that has forced many consumers to cancel cable television subscriptions.

While we've previously dreamed of an "a la carte" cable world, we're also aware that there are plenty of drawbacks for consumers with a plan like the one being proposed.

One of the biggest reasons that cable companies are suddenly in favor of letting customers choose their channels is that they'd be able to directly pass the cost of programming rights on to customers. Channels like ESPN (with its $15 billion NFL deal) and even your local broadcast networks are becoming increasingly expensive for the cable companies to carry, and they'd be able to offer these highly in-demand channels at a premium to interested "a la carte" customers.

We're interested to hear your thoughts. Are you sick of paying for 700+ channels you never watch? Or do you think this choosy plan is just another way for cable companies to make a buck? Tell us in the comments!


Reuters via Gizmodo

(Images: Flickr member dhammza licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Lazarius licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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