Forget A La Carte Channels — Unbundle The Shows

from the who-needs-a-channel? dept

With lots of folks suddenly debating a la carte channels for paid TV systems, thanks to the FCC’s sudden change of heart, it looks like Tom Evslin has come over to our view that it isn’t the bundles that are outdated, but the concept of the channel. Evslin predicts that the next generation of children will have no concept of what a channel is because they’ll just subscribe to shows individually. The thing is, just as setting up a la carte channels would mean a big change for cable companies, setting up the ability to subscribe to individual shows would be an even bigger leap. That’s why it’s unlikely the cable companies will be the first to go there (though, they’ve done some experiments with on-demand shows). It’s the perfect way, however, for the telcos pushing IPTV to jump into the game, by offering something a lot more interesting and different than just a cable copycat.

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Comments on “Forget A La Carte Channels — Unbundle The Shows”

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Greg (user link) says:


> Evslin predicts that the next generation of children will have no concept of what a channel is because they’ll just subscribe to shows individually.
I’ve been using Tivo (and now a 1 TB Beyond TV system) for years. It was interesting the other night when I had a friend over – she ask what channel/night/time a show came on. I had 100% no idea. She was rather shocked by this – but I realize that I’ve already GOT to the point where I have no concept of a channel, anymore.
I watch what I want, when I want – sometimes it’s something that was recorded off a network channel last week, sometime it’s a old prime-time show that’s now in reruns, that I got late at night some night last month. The only time I’m even vaguely aware of a “channel” is when I set up a show to start recording – and even then I’m generally searching for the show, so am not really paying attention to the channel.
With the a la carte coming, I anticipate the actual channel I’m “watching” will become even less meaningful!
So, while I certainly agree that the next generation won’t have a concept of what a channel is, I’d say that a lot of them are already there!

Opus Rex says:

About time!

I hate bundeled channels! Especially the sports ones and the god squad ones. Unfortunatly here in CA they are included with the extended basic. Such a waste of bandwidth!

I watch only a few shows and would really preffer to just subscribe to them. Maybe the Networks could advertise their new shows on other show!

Someone who does care about this topic says:

Re: About time!

I’m not so sure that i like the subscription to individual shows concept. It has been my experience that any time a corporation smells money they bleed us dry. What i do like is the c-band service where you can pick what channels you want to pick up off c-band satellites. There are only like 4 channels I would lke to subscribe to and it would cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 dollars a year to get them on c-band, if i could even afford that. which at the moment I can’t.
I’m sure if we went to a individual show subscription service, it would cost me a lot more to watch what i would watch on those channels that way than it would be to subscribe to the channel it’s self.

Just my humble opinion of what ‘ the man ‘ will do if let out of the box

giafly says:

Some Channels are Needed

  • For example I watch The Poker Channel a lot. I don’t think it would make sense for me to have to subscribe to a lot of individual poker-related programs. Same with any sports channel.
  • The original author says “I watch BBC News despite its bias; you couldn?t pay me to watch the inane comedies that surround it on the BBC.” I have news for him, there’s a channel that’s only BBC News, so maybe he should watch that.
Stoned4Life (user link) says:

Channels and Shows

The only time subscribing to a show would pay off, is if you know what shows you like and dislike- assuming you know every show that’s out there.

Subscribing to shows, although does seem like a good idea to some, would really hurt some people’s tv experience, mainly those who casually relax in front of the tv, and just flip stations until they find something interesting.

Subscribing to shows would also hurt the shows that don’t have much publicity, and rely on either word-of-mouth, or on the viewers who usually watch that channel and catch the show. Although that focuses on the less popular channels, you can get the idea.

I personally like the idea of recording the shows that I like, and watching them whenever I want on a DVR type of thing, but I also want the channel to watch what’s on it, whenever I want.

Rob says:

Re: Channels and Shows

> Subscribing to shows would also hurt the shows that don’t have much publicity, and rely on either word-of-mouth, or on the viewers who usually watch that channel and catch the show.

Of course, the concept of the pilot could gain more emphasis. Offer the pilot episode for free on all new shows. Then people can get a taste for free and studio’s don’t lose out that much b/c most make a pilot for each show already.

My other comments for those talking more about cost: the cable company could offer a tier’ed package system. Where basic cable is offered as the standard package it is today. Then maybe a tier of smaller packages with different channels. Like a sports package where all you get are the core sports channels. Then a third tier for those who know what they watch, where you can purchase individual shows. Sure, the more specialized you get it could cost you more. But if you only watch one or two shows a week, it could be way cheaper than even basic or individual channels.

Bob says:


The channel going obsolete.. what an odd viewpoint I hadn’t yet considered.

Not sure I agree with it just yet, as I believe it’s the network that owns/leases the channel license, pays for the shows, acts as distributor for the advertisers, owns the studio equipment, etc.

Without a network to fund your show, distribute the pilots to generate interest, supply the equipment for filming, attract your advertisers to pay salaries… how on earth can you ever expect to get your fledgling new sitcom off the ground.. with a mere $10,000 in startup funds for your pilot? It’s fairly laughable.

It’s in a network’s best financial interests to keep you tuned in to their offerings, or their “channel”. I see the concept of the channel sticking around for a long time to come and going nowhere soon.

Rosamunda says:

An Excellent idea!

I?m really bored of what cable companies are offering right now. At least here in Argentina, where I live.
I find myself paying good money to get just a few good movies a month and some TV shows… but each time I want to see a movie, they put on air some old material, full of commercials…
Here, cable is good to zapping, just that; to pass a bunch of minutes in front of the tv watching nothing really.

Excellent news! I can?t wait to that!

ron says:

A La Carte Channels is the way, how can you say it would cost more??, after all the channels that can not support themselves go out of business, the cable companies would be sending out only a handfull of channels (like the old days) and free up TONS of bandwidth (like they claim the need), and could start concentrating on HDTV with less compression for a better picture.. my question is do you really think they would try to charge 100 a month for 6 channels a month???

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