Friday, July 30, 2004

A La Carte Cable

When I watch television, I generally watch BBC America and not much else. I don't watch news or sitcoms. On network, I watch the occasional reality show and lots of Conan and Letterman. I used to have MTV, VH1, the Food Network, CNN, Comedy Central... all that stuff, but when I didn't have those anymore, I didn't miss them at all. My cable is turned off for the summer, but last school year, I had digital cable with channels 2-22 plus the Family Pack. So that basically means I had network + PBS + local access + BBC America. All together it cost about $25 a month plus the $13 a month I paid for the TiVo (totally worth the cost, btw).

I was floored when I found out that in order to get BBC America in my new town, I have to pay $53 a month! And this is a place where the cost of living is actually 10% lower than it is here. The reason is costs so damn much? Time-Warner. Freakin' monopolies. I hate them. Their DSL is about another $45 a month. Insane! And I'm used to free dialup. Luckily, the phone company offers a lighter version of DSL that's still 5 times faster than what I have for about $25 a month. Still... overall it's a BIG price increase for me.

So I've been whining and crying about how they really need to get this a la carte pricing going soon. But here's what I've found out... it doesn't look like it's going to do any good at all! It seems that the way cable is set up in the US makes it such that about half of the people with cable don't have cable boxes. They just get it through their TV, so they'd have to add to the base cost for cable to cover the cost of these buzillion new cable boxes.

Also, we'd end up losing all the less popular channels. Because so many people would choose channels like CNN and ESPN, those channels would survive. Channels like Outdoor Life Network, BBC America, or the Independent Film Channel would probably not get enough customers to stay afloat. DOESN'T THAT SUCK?!

Here a recent article from Wired that explains the current state of the situation.

The big question on my mind is this: Are the execs just feeding us bullshit so they don't have to change their ways or are they actually making any sense?

As one guy put it:

The cable industry is so fucked up, that giving people what they want would destroy the economics of the industry.
So what we are fighting for may end up giving us more choice while simultaneously costing us more money. Man, I hate that. This is like those Big Grab bags at convenience stores. I don't want to buy the Big Grab because I will eat everything in the bag, and I know it's WAY more than I should be eating, but I'm not good at internal control. I like EXTERNAL control. When I have more channels, I tend to watch more TV, and I don't want to watch more TV.

This pisses me off. I'm not saying. I'm just saying!