Matt HealeySunday,27 January 2013

The Snap:

Last week I wrote about the impressive results that came from Netflix, and how I thought that was signaling a change in the way people consume TV. My belief is that as services like Netflix gain traction, the content providers will need change the way they charge for content. The problem is that under the current system most consumers are required to pay for channels that they never watch and don’t want.

The Download:

The basic channel line up from Comcast xfinity has 85 channels (if I have counted right). The base package from Direct TV has 140+ channels. If you want any of the more desirable channels, then you need to upgrade to a package that includes 200, 300, or 500 channels. Who knows how many. Most of which you will never watch. But you are paying for them anyway. There is no way around this, and the prices keep going up. Currently, the largest driving force raising prices is the cost of sports networks. According to The New York Times, Time Warner cable subscribers in Los Angeles will see their bills go up because of the costs associated with a new contract with the LA Dodgers. The contract is worth $7 Billion. I love sports in general, but do not really watch baseball and would be pissed if I had to pay for the Dodgers.

With the emergence of the Over-the-top content (OTT) players, the ability of consumers to select what they want to watch on an a-la-carte basis could become a reality. In the near term, I would like to be able to select only the channels I want. Personally, I would go with CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, ESPN2, Food network, HGN, National Geographic, Discovery, and probably a few others (selecting which are my channels and which are my wife’s is left as an exercise for the reader). In the long run, I could even see the concept of channels going away entirely. It would be good to be able to subscribe to individual programs. Obviously pricing would differ by program. New programs could run first 3 episodes free, then a season fee or a per-show fee. The programs would be directly downloaded to the DVR or other home media server. Consumers would only pay for what they wanted.

Hat Tips:

Comcast, Direct TV, NYT, Image Credit: Flickr

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