Cable Companies To Offer Family Tiers To Avoid A La Carte

from the buffet-only dept

There’s been a lot of speculation that the FCC’s total change of mind to support a la carte pricing of cable channels was intertwined with its feelings on indecency, the thinking being that people concerned with TV content could simply not subscribe to channels that offended them. Reaction to the FCC announcement by providers has been mixed, but nearly all the incumbent cable companies remain opposed to the idea. Evidently, though, it’s a big enough stick to get Comcast and Time Warner into line, with the two companies considering acceding to the long-running demand of FCC chairman Kevin Martin that they offer “family-friendly tiers” of channels. The two companies are still waiting on the FCC to sign off on their purchase of rival Adelphia, as well, which could give them even more motivation. Cable operators and networks have been painting a doomsday scenario around the implemenation of a la carte, saying it will destroy their industry. While that’s probably not true, the dent it could put in their revenues are enough to get them to make some smaller changes.

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Comments on “Cable Companies To Offer Family Tiers To Avoid A La Carte”

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TJ says:

Love to see it happen...

…for one reason. The uptake rate will probably be lousy. It is easy to say one wants cleaner TV, but how many adults will be ready to take away their own ability to ever watch shows on Fox, FX, probably USA, Spike, SciFi, and various other cable channels at home while probably paying about the same as if they received them? I’m betting not that many. How many don’t want their kids to watch MTV or Comedy Central, but don’t want to listen to the kids gripe endlessly about not being able to watch them? Probably about as many who are too lazy to use the V-Chip in their TV/cable-box/satellite-box/DVR/VCR/etc to block content today. The family tier would finally show some statistics on how many people care enough to be stuck in that ‘Disney’ kind of TV world.

A question though? Will the teir exclude ABC/NBC/CBS, because they are loaded with violence and sex? [not that I’m complaining] Come to think of it, Discovery has shows with animals mating, shows about the human body and sexuality, and other potentially _shocking_ subjects. Will Disney and Nickelodeon end up being the only channels in the family tier?

spam blob says:

Totally unnecessary

This is more crap brought to you by the dipshits at the “Parents Television Council” (who account for over 90% of the complaints to the FCC)
Someone should tell these clueless, pious dipshits that mechanisms to filter out “bad TV” from their kids (some of these people would have their little precious offspring live at home in a bubble if they could) already exists – it’s called the “V-Chip.” Nearly every single TV in the US ships with parental control mechanisms. Comcast advertises it for their cable boxes. So does Tivo, DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox Cable..
If you want to lock down your TV, then DO IT. Don’t legislate your morality on me, you PTC idiots.

glen says:

No Subject Given

I only watch about 10 out of the 100 channels I pay for(not including the music channels). So a network goes under becuse no one orders that channel. Another player against A la carte is the religion networks, they know the only reason they have the numbers is becuse they are bundled. Whens the last time you’ve watched the 700 Club?

anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Least do not forget the parents that are just too damn lazy, and want someone else to clean up the TV for them. Same goes for the ones complaining about the games. Parents today don’t want to get up off their buff and run to the store to inspect what their children are buying. They don’t want to use the V chip either its too much work for them to learn. I never seen so many lazy parents before in my life. They wait till someone else cries wolf then they get involved.

anonymous nobody says:

Gimme ala carte, dammit!

I watch probably 20 channels, tops, out of the hundreds I pay for. Of these, none of them are high cost channels like ESPN, the broadcast networks, or anything anyone else thinks I want. So I would really like ala carte so I can say NO thanks to ESPN and it’s $3.00 a month fee for a channel I don’t want, and so I can say sayonara MTV, call me when you play music again, and so I can say buh-bye to Toon Disney and NickToons too, since I never watch them either.
I think the big reason the cable companies are afraid is that ala carte breaks up the selling point that you buy DirecTV or digital cable and “get hundreds and hundreds of channels!!!” and makes into something harder to explain to clueless idiots. It also takes away from their predictable revenue streams. If suddenly 50% of subs drop ESPN, that’s tens of millions a month off the balance sheet even if most of that money ends up in Disney/ABC’s pocket.
But to heck with that. I want to pay for what I watch, not what I never, ever watch. Forget TV ratings: the true judge of what’s hot will be how many people are willing to fork over money for it and I bet you it will be totally different than what they THINK people want to see.

Brian Bartlett says:

Re: Gimme ala carte, dammit!

It also takes away from their predictable revenue streams. If suddenly 50% of subs drop ESPN, that’s tens of millions a month off the balance sheet even if most of that money ends up in Disney/ABC’s pocket.

I think you hit the nail on the head there. A la carte pricing breaks their current revenue model and if you know anything about the way their stocks are valuated, on the basis of their cash-flow, they’ll see a meltdown in their stock valuation. Oops! Those options that we gave our executives were worth what? Oh my!

Mike says:

Another cable co perspective

While I’m all for a la carte pricing, how are they going to implement it? The cable co in my area charges about $60/month for “Expanded Basic”. That gets me a wire connected to my house with a signal running down it. I do NOT get a cable box as that is an extra $5/month and my TV’s can handle tuning in the unscrambled channels, so why pay it? I know I can buy my own box, but why spend the money when my TV’s can handle the signal already?

In an a la carte model, the cable company now has to find a way to restrict my access to the channels I don’t want to pay for. They need some method of figuring out who is getting the signal and what signals they are allowed to see. With my limited knowledge, all I can think of is mandatory cable boxes for every TV. Think of the ramp-up cost to get cable boxes to ALL customers PLUS having spare units available for repairs, new customers, etc.

Another point to consider is how often will customers be allowed to change their lineup. For example, I enjoy following the daily trials and tribulations of the Tour de France. I have since LONG before Lance, so don’t start, but his popularity means that now there is coverage on OLN (Outdoor Life). Once the event is over, though, I won’t watch that channel again until next summer. Can I get OLN for the ~24 days of the event and then cancel? I wouldn’t balk at a full month or two (depending on billing vs. calendar month), but what if I’m required to subscribe for 6 months or a full year?

Just my $0.02

TV Free says:

Even Kid's Channels are not Family Friendly

My wife and I have elimnated cable altogether. Partly out of financial concern, but more out of programming concern. Nickelodeon has been over-run with shows about potty-humor. When we had cable, we would let the kids watch TV for about 1.5 to 2 hours. During that time, only one show would be free of humor related to farting, pooping, intestinal issues, or vomitting. The worst was the disrespect shown for adults and authority figures. I happily am raising my kids to think for themselves, but I expect them to show respect in the process of questioning adults and authority figures. My approved channel list for our household would include channels for grown-ups, but not marketing channels aimed at my children that teach disrespect and foul humor. If they are going to learn about sex, I would rather it be from Animal Planet, than from a cartoon.

Steve says:

A La Carte will be a tough sell

The reason people want A La Carte is to get more channels (that they want) for less money.

It hard for companies to offer more for less.

I think it’s safe to assume that the channels that everyone gets that no one wants are the channels that cost very little tp provide.

And that for every non-sports fan who wants to save $2 a month by not getting ESPN they will have to pay $2 more for HGTV or SCI-FI.

And of course, many of the channels that are marginal now (think Discovery Wings) would just disappear, ans there wouldn’t be enought to support it.

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