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Cablevision Suing Viacom Over Cable Bundling

timothy posted about a year ago | from the but-the-m-comes-with-the-tv dept.

Businesses 138

aws910 points to an L.A. Times article which explains that "Cablevision (a huge cable network) is suing Viacom (owner of MTV, Nickelodeon, etc), alleging that Viacom is violating U.S. federal anti-trust laws by requiring programming packages to be bundled. If they are victorious, it would be a tiny step closer to 'a la carte cable,' but not much — Cablevision just wants to make their own bundles, and not give the customer the freedom to choose which channels they get. Where can I get my "Kill your TV" bumper sticker?" The thing I care more about buying separately is no-TV internet service, which the major cable companies seem reluctant to admit is even possible.

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138 comments

reluctant? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052165)

i've lived in 3 different cable markets and they've offered internet only service for quite some time. they generally charge you a bit more, but it's still offered. same with naked dsl.

Re:reluctant? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052211)

They offer it, but it's more expensive than if you accept at least basic cable service as well.

Suggesting that they offer cable only is a bit disingenuous as you have to know about it and pay more for less.

Re:reluctant? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#43052267)

Yeah, I had to get their most basic cable package (didn't even include CSPAN!) to get a small discount on Internet service. But recently the rates changed and it would've been more expensive to also have TV service, so I canceled it. I have rabbit ears and almost never watch TV so it's no trouble.

Re:reluctant? (2)

Pubstar (2525396) | about a year ago | (#43052317)

I have TWC, and my internet charge is the same if I have a bundle with TV or not. Then again, I'm paying for the highest tier connection they offer. It's been that way for at least 2 years now.

Re:reluctant? (2)

PNutts (199112) | about a year ago | (#43052573)

I have Comcast Internet and basic cable. Basic cable costs me $15/month. If I cancelled it and went with Internet only, my Internet price would go up $15/month. Since the cost is the same for those two options I obviously included basic cable.

Re:reluctant? (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#43052885)

Yeah, I'm saving about a dollar a month, but I suppose that's better than giving them a dollar a month for no good reason. (Haven't even turned the tv on in over half a year)

Re:reluctant? (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about a year ago | (#43053853)

They will call you and tell you that you can get a lot more for less money than you are now paying. Of course that is only for the first year and the second year will only be a little bit more than you are paying now. The third year you will be paying a lot more than you are paying now. They hope you will become dependent on those extra services by then and will not do anything about it. For the same price charter would have charged me, I can get magic jack for my land line, netflix and hulu plus for tv, and a cell phone and internet from them. Of course I now pay almost double what they advertise for the internet because they are the only ones that can provide a fast enough internet speed in my area.

Re:reluctant? (3, Interesting)

maxdread (1769548) | about a year ago | (#43052379)

I'm not sure I can find a single instance where getting TV+Internet is cheaper than just internet.

None of them are reluctant and you can find the option for internet only from each provider I checked.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052417)

I'm not sure I can find a single instance where getting TV+Internet is cheaper than just internet.

None of them are reluctant and you can find the option for internet only from each provider I checked.

FWIW when I signed up for my Comcast service in a Boston suburb, it was 59.95 for 15/5 internet plus basic cable, or the internet alone for 59.99. (Basic cable == broadcast networks + home shopping channels.)

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052743)

I had the same experience, also in Boston. Perhaps it's a peculiarity of that market?

Re:reluctant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052607)

I'm not sure I can find a single instance where getting TV+Internet is cheaper than just internet.

When I had 20/5 mbit FIOS in my apartment last year, it was $79.99 for internet + TV and $84.99 for the bare internet alone. Since the HD box was $5, both options effectively cost the same. If I didn't rent the box (i.e. just used the free verizon SD DTV adapter) then the Internet + TV would indeed be cheaper than the Internet alone!

In a twist from bizzaro land, I now have the Verizon 150/65 at my house and THEY WILL NOT BUNDLE TV with it. If you add TV to the plan, the price jumps by about $70. However if you go down one step in speed (75/25) or slower, then the standard HD TV bundle costs only $10 extra. Go figure!

Re:reluctant? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43053257)

Virgin in the UK, when I signed up, but that was a special case: Introductory half-price offer on the bundle. Once the offer period runs out (6 months, IIRC) the price doubles.

Re:reluctant? (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#43053291)

I think GP meant that you get a bundle discount if you get something with the internet.

In my case you just get charged a premium if you go without phone or cable.

Re:reluctant? (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43052875)

I asked my cable company if the rate I pay for internet would rise any if I dropped cable TV. The answer was no, I'd still pay $32 for internet (50mbit/10mbit) just like I currently do.

I'm wanting to do it, but other people in the house still watch news channels. (I've moved them all over to sickbeard/couchpotato combined with xbmc, which they like much better. I wouldn't have done it if my cable provider wasn't CCI flagging every single channel.) So for now I am on the minimum tier possible for news channels in digital, which after the cable cards runs me $35 a month. Total bill is about $68 a month after FCC fees. Not bad considering that through them, I have access to all TV content I want, including full blu-ray releases before they even hit store shelves.

Re:reluctant? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year ago | (#43052259)

I haven't watched TV for years; how is this an issue? [Queue up obligatory TV snob link...]

Re:reluctant? (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#43052375)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

there's a VERY limited time window where traditional phone and cable can still make a come-back.

but my dollars are not on them. they can sell to old guys but I'm betting that sales to the new generation are nearly null.

I'm happy to see the old business models die. its a bit of cosmic justice or pay-back, if you will.

Re:reluctant? (3, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43052399)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

Do they pay for the content they download? If not, in 20 years, when those 20 somethings are 40 somethings, who is going to generate the content?

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052503)

Yes, no one will make anything if someone doesn't get paid. Right.

Re:reluctant? (3, Interesting)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#43052557)

They probably use Hulu, Netflix, and other pay-as-you-watch services. At least for the good stuff.

My wife and daughter download shows they like from the free sites. And as far as I can tell, it isn't worth the time except for a few shows they really like that aren't available in the US. My wife likes the British murder mystery shows, and my daughter watches animes. Other than that, when we had no TV service and piggybacked on our neighbor's wifi* (with permission), actually watching American shows was an ordeal of downloading hell.

.
.
*Note: Thank god I previewed this before posting. Instead of typing 'wifi' I accidentally typed 'wife'. Changes the whole meaning of the complaint.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053579)

'Ordeal of downloading hell'? You must mean legal free sites. Because illegal free sites (i.e. torrents) are just a couple clicks for the episodes, whole seasons, and whole shows. In a vast selection with DRM-free formats playable on any device, any time, for as long as you want, wherever you are in the world, whether you're connected or not, minutes after a show airs somewhere. Legal TV/Movies aren't like Music- they can't come close to competing with the pirate alternatives, because they offer none of those benefits in most cases.
I have a library of 73 complete shows and add more all the time; even in HD where available. Apart from the storage requirements (~7TB), downloading is always a breeze.

Re:reluctant? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#43052579)

Do they pay for the content they download? If not, in 20 years, when those 20 somethings are 40 somethings, who is going to generate the content?

China [nytimes.com] will [nytimes.com] . It's already producing censored news in the U.S. and "giving away" dispatches to struggling stations in Africa. When the local media disappear, China steps in with a friendly, wealthy hand.

Re:reluctant? (2)

ultranova (717540) | about a year ago | (#43052653)

Do they pay for the content they download? If not, in 20 years, when those 20 somethings are 40 somethings, who is going to generate the content?

Everyone, if current trends continue. We're already at the point where the best stuff in most franchises are produced by fans, with the "official" content serving mostly as a seed to get things started; and are currently seeing a shift where textual fan-made content is increasingly supplemented by videos, music, etc due to the increasing quality of tools at Joe Average's disposal. Add the entirely original settings (such as Orion's Arm [orionsarm.com] ) made possible by the community-building power of the Internet, and it seems likely that in 20 years the so-called Big Content will be both dead and unmourned.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053213)

Indeed. I can never understand this type of "oh noes copyright infringement will kill culture" argumentation. Culture precedes copyright legislation by more than a few years...

Culture will exist and grow for as long as humans exist, with or without copyright: this is basic and self-evident fact. Also, it is NOT copyright infringement that deprives content creators/publishers from money (that's completely orthogonal), it's people ACTIVELY CHOOSING not to reward content creators/publishers with money.

Music taping didn't kill music, and neither will the Internet. It might kill some parasitic entities, though, if they keep insisting on making themselves a nuisance for everyone else.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052665)

No- because the industry isn't allowing anybody to provide it in a convenient form.

I don't have a problem paying for content although if you try and shove DRM down my throat your not getting my money. To prove my point I DO go to the theater and pay through the nose on a weekly and sometimes twice a week basis. Half the movies I see are so-so. For most people they wouldn't consider them worth paying for and if they had no other means (at no cost) wouldn't see them anyway (and most people don't either because they are crap).

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052749)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

Do they pay for the content they download? If not, in 20 years, when those 20 somethings are 40 somethings, who is going to generate the content?

Who cares? If greedy gloom-n-doom corporations threatening to provide less content if they don't get at least a billion dollars a week in ad revenue make good their threat, that'll just mean more opportunities for indie writers and producers. Never forget: It is always the medium that came first. Then, along came the exploiters. If they go away, the most-excellent and useful medium will still be there. This applied to the Internet as well, which is why everybody - 100% of all of us - should be running ad-blockers all the time.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053505)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

Do they pay for the content they download? If not, in 20 years, when those 20 somethings are 40 somethings, who is going to generate the content?

Nobody. You see, that is the folly of piracy. That is why no one in the entire world has anything today. Pirates ruined everything during the 'rum runner' years... that is why we live in a world void of 'generated content' today. So in the future, they will have even more content void. The abyss will grow and the entire West Coast of the US will fall into the chasm.

Oh wait... you were serious? Shill.

Re:reluctant? (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | about a year ago | (#43052413)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

I keep hearing this sort of thing, and if it were true, the ratings for live shows (sports, award shows, etc.) should be dropping dramatically as those are the shows where downloading isn't really an option.

But the Super Bowl and this year's Golden Globe and Academy Awards telecasts show that not only are audiences not getting smaller, but they are also getting younger.

Re:reluctant? (1)

MrBippers (1091791) | about a year ago | (#43052459)

The examples you site are all on broadcast networks available free over the air. I can have a data connection and still get free OTA channels. That's my plan as a late-twenty something. Netflix and hulu will do me just fine.

Re:reluctant? (2)

Thesis (1983882) | about a year ago | (#43052537)

My family and I have never cared about watching the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, or any other such awards show for many years. A late freind of mine actually won an Emmy (he did audio work), and even he didn't think much of it. He laughed when I asked him about it years ago. He told me that they gave him the thing on stage, then when he went off stage they took it from him, and said it would cost him $300 to keep the statuette. He always laughed about that, but myself and others who knew him did as well, for the thing is made cheap, and his broke. I have always seen the award shows as a self masturbatory act, and he even agreed.

Re:reluctant? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43053283)

Why would ratings drop? New customers don't get counted in ratings sweeps it is all averages anyways.

Remember They still count you if your TV is off but your cable box is on(like is generally required for DVR's to function). So while my TV hasn't been on in 2 days My cable box has been recording a show.(yea just one there is only one Between Wedensday and Saturday that I care enough to keep up with).

The only reason I have a full cable package at all is because I wanted ONE station that wasn't in the smaller bundles. That for just two programs. I am considering dropping it all together and just use Netflix all the time.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053607)

Having been a "nielson family" at one time, I can tell you that they do count whether the T.V. is on or not.

They attach many wires between your television equipment and their own equipment. For ours, this included one sensor on the back of the television which picked up the magnetic signals from the CRT to determine whether or not it was turned on, as well as other wires going into the tuning circuit to measure the PLL voltage (yes, voltage, not frequency), which was then calibrated by going through every channel on the television and recording the voltage for that channel.

While talking with them, I learned they have a few other methods they sometimes use. One, for when the PLL voltage method doesn't work well enough, is to connect to the audio output of the television, then have their own tuner box which flips between channels until it finds something that matches the audio the television itself is outputting. They also told me that they're looking into trying to get cable box / television manufacturers to include something in their designs that's easier for them to use, like just a solder pad on the main circuit board that outputs a serial data signal about what channel the television is tuned to.

That said, the ratings are likely inaccurate as fuck. Dealing with those people was a complete pain in the ass, and we eventually told them to fuck off, despite my mother being the kind of person who would tend to do anything anyone asked her to do, and despite the small amount of money they gave us for participating. They also had a number of things that would disqualify a house to be in the ratings program, which basically amounted to anything they couldn't easily monitor, like a T.V. capture card in a computer. So the ratings are likely biased towards the poor and the stupid, which rather explains what content is created for television.

how can they mod the cable box and what if you nee (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43054157)

how can they mod the cable box and what if you need to swap it out?

Do they take ownership of the cable box and will they pay out $300-$600+ if the cable co bills you for a new cable box?

Re:reluctant? (2)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43052531)

It's hardly limited to 20 somethings, I am about twice that age and have data only, never in my life paid for tv. I would consider it if they would turn off the ads, but as long as they want me to pay them to deliver my eyeballs to their advertisers it isnt even tempting.

Re:reluctant? (1)

guevera (2796207) | about a year ago | (#43052611)

The telcos are also eager to kill off the POTS network entirely, in hopes it will get them out from under (what's left of) common carrier and universal service regulations. I'm generally skeptical of government, but I'm not sure that what we want is less constraints for AT&T and Verizon. I've personally known drug cartels that are better corporate citizens than those companies.

Re:reluctant? (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about a year ago | (#43052667)

my younger friends (in their 20's) not only don't have POTS phone service anymore (its all cell phones) but they don't subscribe to tv packages, either. they get a data connection, they download what they want and that's that.

It isn't just people in their 20's who do this. I'm closer to 40 but I do things similarly. No POTS, no cable, no satellite. I have a cell phone, 12 Mbps DSL, a WDTV streaming media box for Netflix and whatever I download, and a DB4 antenna I built to get local OTA TV. Its been about two and a half years since I kicked the cable habit. It was tough for a couple of months, but I don't miss it one bit anymore. I would have to have a lot more disposable income or they'd have to seriously cut their prices (and be up front about them) before I'd even consider subscribing to cable again.

The only people under 40 I know who have land lines at home have them just for a feeling of security in case of emergency because they have young kids at home, since corded phones don't have batteries to die and still work in power outages. They don't really use their $15/month land lines.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053863)

I'm in my 40's and have middle school aged kids and we cancelled POTS and cable 6 months ago. No one complains at all. In fact my daughter came home from a sleepover at the neighbors (they still have cable) and commented about how annoying commercials are and was glad we didn't have cable.

I am so glad that as a family we can sit down and watch shows like Cheers, the Dick Van Dyke Show, Columbo, Mission Impossible, etc. on Netflix. My kids love these shows and I seriously doubt they would ever watch them if we still had cable with it's lineup of the Jersey Shore, the white trash housewives of orange county, and all those other crap shows.

MLB.tv has got it right and hopefully the other major sports will get on board as well. Ala carte is here to stay.

Re:reluctant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052305)

I have Comcast in northern VA
When I dropped cable TV service, my internet stayed at $48 which is exactly where it was when I had TV service. I simply took all of my various cable boxes and convertors to one of their local offices and turned it on. I told her I was cancelling all TV service but keeping the internet. That was it.

Re:reluctant? (1)

rwyoder (759998) | about a year ago | (#43052311)

i've lived in 3 different cable markets and they've offered internet only service for quite some time. they generally charge you a bit more, but it's still offered. same with naked dsl.

Agreed. I have Internet-only from Comcast *and* it includes native IPv6.
The last time I had cable TV was 2001, and that was only because I worked for AT&T Broadband and it was an employee perk.

I haven't had trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052463)

They don't seem to reluctant when you tell them you might consider cable TV If you had a TV.

Re:I haven't had trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052603)

People with no TVs spend a lot of time and effort pointing out that they do not have a TV....

I bet you are a blast to hang with at a social event. Between you, the person that ran a marathon, the person that rescued a pet from a shelter, and a vegan, I don't know who would be worse.

Re:reluctant? (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about a year ago | (#43053581)

Comcast charges the same.

I have their 50/10 servic which had a special of like $54/month or something and goes to $65/month after 6 months or so. When I called to place the order, the person told me if I wanted I could bundle with the basic cable for no extra cost (after which I spent 5 minutes asking in various forms to ensure it wouldnt cost any extra at any point etc)

So in the end comcast, at least here charges the same for internet alone as it does with internet + basic tv (the tuner box doesnt have a monthly fee or anything either).

I'm glad I have a muncipal ISP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052171)

Sure, I do get Cable and Telephone from them, but that's because I want those services, if I wanted to just go internet, they'd do it with a phone call.

Also did I mention it's Fiber to the home?

But they're still stuck with the same bundle television model, and they don't even have the leverage somebody like Cablevision might. So I'm stuck paying for dozens of networks I never watch.

This is a real problem. (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | about a year ago | (#43052179)

Do you have any idea how many people pay for ESPN (the most expensive cable channel) that never watch ESPN? Why? (Hint: It's owned by Disney.)

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

thejynxed (831517) | about a year ago | (#43052293)

They are perfectly happy to allow you to rent ESPN separately of Disney Channel. What they won't do, is rent you Disney Channel without also renting ESPN, and that is where they get you, if you're a sports-loving parent of young children.

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43052515)

And what if you are a parent of young children who has no interest whatsoever in watching grown men run up and down a field fighting over a ball like little children?

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43052651)

They are perfectly happy to allow you to rent ESPN separately of Disney Channel. What they won't do, is rent you Disney Channel without also renting ESPN, and that is where they get you, if you're a sports-loving parent of young children.

And by that, I assume you meant "non-sports-loving".

Of course, you know the reason for that, right? If the sports lovers actually had to pay the cost of ESPN on their own, most of them would balk at the price. So they subsidize the heck out of ESPN by making it hard to avoid even if you don't watch it. That way everybody who doesn't watch it ends up paying most of its actual cost (which is staggering, in large part because of the high price that the major sports leagues charge them per viewer).

Want to fix the problem in a hurry? Convince everyone you know to all watch every major sports event for a year. Make it so that the sports networks' ratings go through the roof. When the sports leagues crank up the amount they charge ESPN through the roof, ESPN will then demand $200 per customer, which the cable companies will be forced to pass on. Then cancel your cable. If enough people did this, the system would go Hindenburg.

Re:This is a real problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052819)

No, ESPN wouldn't go through the roof. It might double, but more than half of the people who subscribe to cable watch ESPN, so most people would still subscribe to ESPN. The reason ESPN can demand as much as they do is because it is, by far, the most popular cable network.

But you want to know what would go through the roof? Most other networks. See, those networks aren't watched by most subscribers. So a network that's only watched by 10% of subscribers would have to multiply the price they currently get paid by 10 just to keep their current income. Let's see if you still bitch about paying $5/mo for ESPN when your favorite network starts charging $10/mo.

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43052911)

What you're failing to account for is the difference in magnitude. Sports are subsidized by non-sports viewers far more than any other network.

By most estimates I've seen, only about a quarter of all cable households watch ESPN and other sports networks, give or take. And sports programming eats, on average, about half of a typical cable bill. So if only people who care about sports paid for it, the cost of the sports networks would increase by a factor of four, and even if they dropped every channel but sports, their cable bills would double.

And the people who dropped the sports networks? Their cable bills would fall in half.

This, of course, assumes that nobody dropped any other channels, mind you. At that point, most people are not likely to nickel-and-dime the buck-and-under channels (which is pretty much all of the non-sports channels). It's the channels that cost five bucks and up that are going to get slashed. So the ESPNs would be tossed aside en masse, and most of the smaller channels could then ask for more money, and programming quality would improve.

But even if I'm wrong about that—even if everyone decided that they were going to limit themselves to the channels that they actually watch and the price per channel went up by a factor of five, ten, even twenty—the average person would subscribe to fewer channels, so the average person would still end up paying less. (And getting less, to be fair, but you don't really watch the Soap Network, do you?)

The less-popular channels would cost more, and the more-popular channels would cost less. And the less-popular channels would then have greater incentive to bring in revenue, which would lead to greater competition, and hopefully, better programming. In practice, it would probably also lead to fewer networks, but better programming at each of them.

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43052977)

Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part. The networks would be beholden to their subscribers. Had Sci-Fi Channel been bundled a la carte five years ago, we would not have SyFy with professional wrestling. Sure, it would cost more, but it would be an actual channel that ate and breathed science fiction. And if it deviated from that too far, people would drop the channel, and they'd either clean up their act or wither on the vine and eventually be replaced by someone who would.

You see, that's the biggest problem with the current system. There's only token competition when you have an oligopoly and things are bundled as they are. As far as NBCUniversal is concerned, SyFy is a transponder, and it is costing them money to keep it lit. Therefore, their goal is to maximize the amount of ad revenue, which means maximizing the number of eyes. You're the product. They don't care if science fiction viewers keep watching the channel because everybody gets the channel, so there's no incentive to cater to any particular audience. If they can get ten times as many viewers by showing pictures of fish swimming in an aquarium, they'll do it, because that's the most profitable way to run the network.

With a la carte pricing, at least to some degree, you're the customer. You're also a product that they can sell to the advertisers, of course, but because you're in full control over whether your eyes are even available as an asset to sell, you have much more say in the content decisions. People who don't watch science fiction are unlikely to subscribe to SyFy, which means those people who watch professional wrestling won't even be available as potential eyes to sell to advertisers. So if they air that sort of programming, it gets no viewers, and the advertisers say, "Why are we paying you again?" And if enough people get annoyed at the dumbing down of the network, they start to lose subscribers, at which point the advertisers say, "Why are we paying you so much?" Thus, you, the subscriber, get to cast an actual vote, albeit somewhat indirectly.

It's not quite as good as purely subscription-supported TV in that regard, mind you, but it is a lot better than the current situation, where the networks are bundled together and everybody gets all of them, so the MBA studio execs see them as interchangeable transponders instead of actual stations with an actual voice, an actual vision, and an actual mission.

Re:This is a real problem. (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about a year ago | (#43053603)

Wait, you're saying channels like discovery would havd actual science stuff instead the amish mafia? And history channel would have history stuff instead of some of the goofy ass shows they have?

And Tru tv.. well.. hell I'm not sure they could exist. They'd have to have "True" shows to match their name and with all the shows they have "lizzard lick towing, that Repo show with the bald headed douche, etc etc" they'd have to wipe ths slate clean and start *all* over.....

well it kind of hard to fill court tv 24/7 so that (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43054249)

well it kind of hard to fill court tv 24/7 so that other stuff is filler.

Re:This is a real problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052767)

I'm sick of non sports fans complaining over the price of ESPN. The reason ESPN is the most expensive is that more people watch it than any other network. For each of the few people that pay for ESPN without watching it there are tons of people that pay for the much less popular channels that you like. If the model changed from bundling to a-la-carte, the price for ESPN wouldn't change much since most people would still buy it. But the price for most of the other channels would go way up because most people wouldn't subscribe to those channels and they'd be forced to price accordingly.

So yeah, you pay ~$5 per month for ESPN, but you're also getting History, AMC, Sci-Fi, Nat Geo and a whole bunch of other channels for substantially less than you'd pay if you were allowed to not pay for ESPN.

ào to 3D ,ào to 3D max, ào to 3D ni (-1, Offtopic)

Yen Yen (2854817) | about a year ago | (#43052187)

[B]TRUNG TÂM ÀO TO HA 2D & 3D[/B] c: [B]231 Nguyn Thái Bình, Phng 04 Qun Tân Bình, Tp. H Chí Minh[/B] T vn khóa hc: [B]0903 015 281 (Thy Thun) – 0932 748 819 (Cô Yn)[/B] t: [B](08).3811.7310[/B] Web: [url]www.tinhocdohoa.org[/url] Mail: [email]ntthuanyen@gmail.com[/email]

Zappa, 1973. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43052189)

Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin along on your livinroom floor

I am the slime from your video
Cant stop the slime, people, lookit me go

What about program-specific a-la-carte? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43052221)

Instead of getting an entire channel, what if you just subscribed to individual programs, delivered to your set-top box each week, waiting for you to watch them at your convenience?

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052245)

Sure, with the tiny monthly fee of $15, we'll be happy to reduce your ability to watch the whole channel offerings to just your likings.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43052359)

It's not really a reduction when you're not watching anything else anyways.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (4, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#43052609)

Ohhh, you didn't want to pay for the parts you weren't watching? Well, that'll be another $120/mo in processing fees.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#43052501)

YT wants to do something like this. But instead of talking single cents per subscription they are talking dollars. It would cost me more to subscribe to 20 YT paid channels than I pay for 200 TV channels.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (1)

farnz (625056) | about a year ago | (#43053311)

That comparison misses the point, though - for most people, the goal isn't to have as many channels available as possible, it's to have something to watch whenever you want to watch TV. I currently have around 100 TV channels (all free to air), but I'm not guaranteed to find something I want to watch when I choose to watch TV.

I used to pay to get around 300 channels, but stopped when I realised that I still wasn't able to find something I wanted to watch whenever I turned on the TV set, and that when I did find channels I wanted to watch, they tended to be from the free to air set anyway.

A simple question illustrates the point - would you prefer 5,000 nearly identical home shopping channels for the same money you pay now, or would you prefer your existing TV package? I suspect you'd find that most people would prefer your current TV package, with its mere 200 channels, to a package of 5,000 channels that they're mostly not interested in.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about a year ago | (#43053621)

You can. Its called services like Vudu which (shortly after the episode first airs typically) has the episode (s) you want available to be streamed or downloaded to a device which supports Vudu. But each episode will run you typically 99 cents to $1.99
I guess if you dont watch much tv, this would be a good way to do it, but if you watch even just 25 episodes at the $1.99 price a month, you could have dish network with like 150 to 200 channels (or for around $80 you could have the hopper/joey with 250 channels + ondemand and dvr like us which gives you pretty much the capabilities of Vudu plus the dvr)

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (2)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43052585)

Instead of getting an entire channel, what if you just subscribed to individual programs, delivered to your set-top box each week, waiting for you to watch them at your convenience?

The two BitTorrent clients I've used (Vuze and uTorrent) both support this, provided "set-top box" means computer, or something like one of the combination media-player/NAS units Western Digital offers.

Re:What about program-specific a-la-carte? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43053997)

Not exactly a reasonable comparison... since in such a case the content being downloaded would probably be infringing on copyright.

Channel Guides (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052225)

I'd really appreciate it if my channel guide only contained information pertaining to the channels I actually receive with my package.

I might be less likely to switch the set off in disgust and watch youtube videos instead. Or head on over to thepiratebay.se when I see the neat stuff that's playing on channels that aren't in the package I bought.

Re:Channel Guides (1)

Sinryc (834433) | about a year ago | (#43052283)

Most set top boxes have that somewhere in the settings.

not most cable systems. Directv has that (not 100% (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43052391)

not most cable systems. Directv has that (it does not work 100%) and they channel maps are much better then cable.

Re:Channel Guides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052393)

Holy cow, I had no idea. Thanks for the heads up!

From a Legal Standpoint (4, Informative)

Nick H. (2839611) | about a year ago | (#43052251)

I'm not sure how this would be any different from the recent SCOTUS decision Brantley v. NBC Universal, 675 F.3d 1192 (2012). The Court held that selling high demand and low demand channels together in packages to consumers did not injure competition and therefore violate US antitrust law.

Re:From a Legal Standpoint (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year ago | (#43052361)

This makes sense. Additionally, since their argument seems to be "its illegal when they do it, but when we do it based on our own metrics of what consumers like it will be legal". That strikes me as a weak position to argue from.

Re:From a Legal Standpoint (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43052999)

Maybe they took the time to actually present real evidence of harm this time. :-)

In my quick skim of the subject, it didn't look like the courts held much of anything beyond that the people bringing the case failed to provide enough evidence for it to actually go to trial.

That is to say that they did not hold that those things did not injure competition, but rather that those things did not inherently injure competition, and that without further evidence to support the claim of injury, the prosecution presented insufficient grounds for the suit to proceed.

Did I miss a subsequent, more solid decision on the subject?

Don't want to be a dumb pipe... (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about a year ago | (#43052315)

That's why you see the deals like HBO GO where you have to be a subscriber to access. Even Hulu has gone this route to appease the media interest and now you have Comcast, a provider, also in the content business.

At the same time Netflix is getting into the content business.

The last thing the cable companies want to happen is for HBO to realize that, "Hey people might pay us $15 a month to watch HBO online without the cable fee."

Honestly, if MLB.tv didn't blackout the local games both me and my father would ditch cable TV.

Re:Don't want to be a dumb pipe... (1)

rachit (163465) | about a year ago | (#43052921)

The last thing the cable companies want to happen is for HBO to realize that, "Hey people might pay us $15 a month to watch HBO online without the cable fee."

HBO probably already realizes that. But of course they are owned by Time Warner...

Re:Don't want to be a dumb pipe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43053667)

FYI, HBO does exactly this in scandinavia.

Re:Don't want to be a dumb pipe... (2)

rhsanborn (773855) | about a year ago | (#43053885)

HBO knows that people would pay them directly. HBO has said as much. HBO also knows that it has the largest sales force in the country and it doesn't have to pay them. Every cable and satellite provider is selling HBO. If HBO decided to start selling on it's own, those cable and satellite partners wouldn't have the same incentive to keep pushing HBO in their packages. HBO has decided they get more money from the current arrangement.

Totally Ironic (1)

hemo_jr (1122113) | about a year ago | (#43052327)

Since that is how they sell their own bundles to their customers.

Re:Totally Ironic (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#43052513)

It's not ironic. The very reason they bundle the channels is because they have to buy them in bundles as well.

What would the alternative be? Offer people a la carte and have to pay for a bunch of channels nobody wants to subscribe to? They'd have to charge a higher costs for the channels people do subscribe to in order to pay the bundled station pricing from the providers. Then they'd simply look like they were offering less TV for more money. Their competitors would trumpet how few stations you get for $X. Of course, the rub would be that the 50 extra channels you got with the competition are ones you don't want to see anyway. In TV it's about quantity, not quality. Which is how we got in this mess anyway -- people bragging about how many channels they have and not caring at all that most of the time on those new channels was reruns and just plain bad shows.

Re:Totally Ironic (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43053081)

It's simple math. You charge the amount per channel based on subscription to that channel and the "cost" allocated to that bundle by the number of subscribers. You can a la carte price a bundle. People do it all the time in bakeries, where the "bakery" buys packages of products and then sells them on. They get 3 peach, 3 blueberry, 3 apple, 3 chocolate, and sell them one at a time to people who come in. Maybe the chocolate is $0.50 more than the apple, and the blueberry is $0.10 cheaper than the apple because of demand for them. But they make their money back, and hopefully a little profit. It's not hard, it just carries some risk, and why risk anything when you can get the guarantee? We get screwed all the time because the big names are risk averse.

Comcast has internet only.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052339)

We just cut-the-cable and went OTA.
We now have Comcast as our ISP only, no TV, no Phone, only Internet.

Intro rate of $30 a month, going up to 70-80 after the first 6 months. (Or something like that..)

They do charge you an extra $10 or so above what you would get if u bundled.

Marc

Cablevision (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43052353)

When Verizon brought its FiOS TV service to Massapequa Park, NY, Cablevision brought lawyers [connectedp...online.com] .

When plans were getting drawn for a West Side Stadium that would compete with its (now-spun-off [bloomberg.com] ) Madison Square Garden, they brought astroturf ads.

When our place got FiOS, they began to bring salesmen.

When they leave, unsuccessful and late to the table of real competition, and bested by a once-monopoly they apparently sought to outdo, they bring me joy.

(Though to be fair, when they show their Michael Bolton ad, it brings me to the TV.)

Damned monopolistss (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052383)

Simple: prohibit content providers from also selling internet access. Socialize the Internet. There's no other clean choice. Treat it as the public utility that it is and regulate it as such.

Re:Damned monopolistss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052643)

I hope you're being sarcastic.

Just don't buy it (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year ago | (#43052455)

Why put up with cable companies and their fees, just stream or buy it later. This strategy only works if you have patience and don't have to be 'in the loop' and talk about it at work or elsewhere. This is a strategy I prefer. There are much better things to do than watch TV.

screw cable, and i mean it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052475)

Get rid of it, get rid of satellite, get rid of it all. Go online, download your TV from there. If you reaaally want to pay for it, HULU charges $5/mo. and so do most other providers online. You can get away with paying less than $20/mo. for just about anything you want. If that's too much, torrent. I gave a big middle finger to the TV industry long ago. I don't need it to be entertained and am very happy.

Re:screw cable, and i mean it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052753)

so where do you get this internet?

cable or phone?

there is a 50/50 chance your paying them anyway, then your paying them though hulu as well

So.... (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#43052505)

A monopoly that is screwing its customers is mad that a somewhat competitive group is able to make it include ALL of its stuff.

Makes sense to me.

No-TV internet not available??? (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | about a year ago | (#43052621)

Time Warner has offered internet service without a TV package in my area for at least ten years. Is this really not the norm? AT&T was reluctant to offer "naked" DSL, first telling customers it wasn't possible, then charging higher prices, but it has been a while since they started selling it. I have the fake version of AT&T's Uverse at home now (12 Mbps DSL, no TV or anything much faster available), and they no longer charge a higher price to non-phone customers.

I'm not sure which is worse here and now: the lack of truly high speed internet or the fact that there are exactly two providers to choose from. But I think the latter problem might be a cause of the former.

Pot calling kettel black. (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about a year ago | (#43052657)

I hate paying for crappy stations I don't watch also, what are you going to do for me. If I only want one damn station you should me happy to give me one. Not ass rape me for cash, now you know why I am not a TV customer. And I am being ass raped for the price of you damn bandwidth while we are on the subject. Feel that ass hurt now you know how every customer of yours feels.

There needs to be a class action lawsuit (1, Insightful)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about a year ago | (#43052689)

Question To Providers: "Why can't I just pay for each individual program that i want to watch or opt to buy a seasonal package of shows/channels from you at a discounted price?
Providers: Well see the channels that we subsidize wouldn't last and go under.
Question to Providers: Why is that my problem?
Providers: ........

A la carte wouldn't save you anything (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#43052739)

So, you pay $30 a month for a set of channels and watch 5 of them, with a couple you might occasionally have a look at.

Instead there's an a la carte option. Now, the cable company knows that you're willing to pay $30 a month for those 5 channels. Why would they not simply charge you $6 each?

Re:A la carte wouldn't save you anything (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43052783)

So, you pay $30 a month for a set of channels and watch 5 of them, with a couple you might occasionally have a look at.

Instead there's an a la carte option. Now, the cable company knows that you're willing to pay $30 a month for those 5 channels. Why would they not simply charge you $6 each?

Not only that, but all the lesser channels are starting to get some of the "prime" programming now. If you carefully observe what the stations are doing, they're evolving for the a la carte option - putting top ranked shows across the entire network, so you can't buy just one, but you have to buy them all. Maybe after a year the last season will make its way to the other channels with ads to buy the original channel, but the stations are evolving their programming.

What was once all consolidated on one main channel and 2-3 weaker channels often showing reruns and older material has devolved into all channels showing top-tier stuff and lowly reruns. Now you're not just buying History Channel, but History and H2, with little overlap in programming.

Re:A la carte wouldn't save you anything (1)

N!k0N (883435) | about a year ago | (#43053575)

but that's more because History doesn't have enough programming slots for cramming shitty reruns of room-temperature IQ programming on one channel

For example, Monday (04 March) ... 00:00 to 11:59 EDT, per tv guide website. Times are the start time of the show. All are repeats unless otherwise noted.

History:
The Bible (2h - 00)
Vikings(1h - 2,3,)
Infomercials (0.5h -4-5.30 inclusive)
Classroom (1h - 6)
The Real West (1h - 7)
American Pickers (0.5 & 1h - 08-19.30 inclusive)
Pawn Stars (0.5h - 20,20.30)
American Pickers (1h - 21, new episode)
Pawn Stars (0.5h - 22,22.30, new episodes)
Vikings(1h - 2,3,)


H2:
Miracle Rising: South Africa (2h - 00)
Stories From the Road to Freedom (2h - 02)
Declassified (1h - 03)
Infomercials (0.5h - 04-06.30)
Secret Passages (1h - 07)
Modern Marvels (1h - 08, 09)
Alaska: Dangerous Territory (2h, 10)
Modern Marvels (1h, 12-15)
Alaska: Dangerous Territory (2h, 16)
Modern Marvels (1h, 17-23)

Granted, Monday night is the "Modern Marvels Marathon" night on H2, so it might not be a fair comparison -- sure, it glosses over _a lot_ of things (unfortunate), but it's not just the drivel of "[item] could be worth a lot of money." or "Why the hell is this guy showing us all the stuff HE WON'T SELL!?". Tuesday is devoted to UFO Hunters/Ancient Aliens/etc.

Same goes for "Science" and "Discovery" and "The Learning Channel" ... It's unfortunate how so few of their shows now care about "Science", "Discovery", or "Learning" (ignoring the fact that TLC stopped being "The Learning Channel" ~15 years ago) -- hell, with the exception of "Blue Planet" (et. al.), and the Neil Armstrong specials I'm hard pressed to say _any_ of their programming follows in the title of the channel. Only one that still seems to follow their station name in programming choices is "Animal Planet" (and even there, it's probably just as much "reality" crap as the other stations).

For the longest time (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#43052763)

I had nothing BUT a net connection from the cable company. I re-upped TV a couple years ago but every day I question why I'm spending an $154 a month for cable and net service when I can get 100mpbs for $100 a month and all you can eat video.

USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052803)

I don't get it. Everybody is touting how great the USA is. But in reality and with every story I read I can only see a very broken market. Every (slightliy bigger) company tries to shove stuff down your throats. Everybody thinks he is entitled to 15% profit and annual bonuses of 50% which increases turnover needed which increases bad habits and bad sales tactics.
Everything is in "just now". Let's rip everybody off just now.

I'd rather run my business for a long time with a steady 5%, organic growth and focus on quality. Which usually all in all isn't really more expensive.

Having cable with Internet ONLY is a perfectly legal thing to have. That should be the center of the process, and your market controlling buro should've filled that a long time ago on behalf of you all.

We need to fight to escape "the bundle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43052871)

Western Canadian here.. I had to look a while last year for a way to avoid the TV-phone-net bundle when Shaw shoved it on everyone here. Thankfully they have to (for now...) sell bandwidth to second-tier providers, who are free to offer net-only packages at about the same price. So, not wanting the 400+ channels of same ol', and not needing IP phone either (MagicJack, skeezy as it is, works fine for a land line @ $20 per year, versus that per month) and myself and the missus both have cellphones with guaranteed 911 so...) we cut the cord and got Distributel for the same $52/mo for equivalent to Shaw Extreme, but no TV or phone.

Bundling is bullpucky pure and simple.

Oh the sweet, sweet ironic hypocrisy (0)

Tsu-na-mi (88576) | about a year ago | (#43053397)

So the channel provider wants to sell the cable company channels only as a bundle, not as individual channels. The exact same thing the cable company does to its customers. Just another example of a company that wants to play by a different set of rules.

Cable Internet without TV is available in Canada (1)

nebular (76369) | about a year ago | (#43053545)

Funny, just north of the Border I can get Cable internet without TV, even starting to get competition for the service in place. Still mainly overpriced, but it seems for once we're better than the US in this regard.

Now if only we could get speeds like you guys get

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