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Average American Cable Subscriber Gets 189 Channels and Views 17

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the nothing-on dept.

Television 340

An anonymous reader writes "Nielsen, the company that studies the viewing habits of television viewers, announced its findings in a blog post Tuesday. Since 2008, the number of cable TV channels offered as a bundle rose from 129 to 189 in 2013, but in that time-frame viewers have consistently only watched an average of 17 channels. The data seems to support the notion that consumers are better off subscribing to channels a la carte, but cable companies are of the opinion that 'the price of cable TV wouldn't change much if channels were served à la carte because content providers won't sell the most popular programs to cable companies unless the provider's other channels are also served up.' Nielsen concluded in its post that 'quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers', signaling the possibility that more Americans will cut the cord after realizing that their cable bill has increased in the last few years but their consumption of content hasn't."

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200 channels... (4, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 3 months ago | (#46945601)

and nothing to watch.

Re:200 channels... (5, Informative)

GreatDrok (684119) | about 3 months ago | (#46945791)

"and nothing to watch."

Yeah, we had satellite for a good long time but gradually pared back the channels we received because many we wanted were tied to other channels we didn't and that pushed the price up. Once we got to the basic package we realised that the vast majority of what we watched was on free to air digital HD via our TiVo so we dropped Satellite. We're down to about ten channels now. Still nothing to watch though.

Re:200 channels... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945825)

and nothing to watch.

Spot on.

I had satellite TV for free as a result of a client who gave me the setup in an effort to
express his appreciation. There were 500+ channels, and I could not find anything I wanted to watch.
I actually tried for a few days, but it was all mindless crap which I'd pay NOT to watch. In other words,
I'd pay more to make sure the TV was off rather than on.

The "all you can eat" model is already dead, only the mouth-breathing wannabes
who make up the majority of commenters on this site these days are too stupid
to realize it yet. ( hint : just because you can code doesn't mean you are actually
smart, it just means you have a skill ).

A la carte is the future, and no power on earth will prevent it from happening.

Re:200 channels... (2)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#46946437)

I believe a la carte is the future, but I don't think forcing it upon everybody is a good idea. The market is already gradually moving in that direction due to two forces pushing it that way:

1) Netflix and Amazon already offer original content, and you're free to choose between the two. Effectively a la carte. Other companies like Sony and Microsoft have already taken interest in doing their own Netflix style offering with their own original content.
2) The content providers are pricing themselves out of the market by demanding retrans fees that are increasingly impractical.

Now Netflix and Amazon aren't a huge selection, right? And even adding Microsoft and Sony here aren't either, right? Well remember that the traditional "all or nothing" pay industry started this way. In the original Community Antenna TeleVision (CATV) days, you maybe had 20 channels to choose from, but the content selection wasn't really that good. Netflix and Amazon combined have a selection that would make those 20 channels look like crap, and the price you pay for both of them is certainly a lot less than what you paid back then (adjusted for inflation.)

In order to be fair, a la carte rules may indeed force companies like Netflix to unbundle content collections. Netflix offers content from A&E, Viacom, ABC, and many, many others...telling them to split that up would be problematic IMO, especially for the $8 a month you pay.

Maybe, maybe not. At any rate, let's not go down that road if we can avoid it. Instead let's simply allow market force #2 to kill the cable industry, forcing them to adapt. I think allowing the content companies to become the final victims of their own success would be the perfect execution of poetic justice.

Re:200 channels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945931)

Not true. I've got 14 channels of shit on the TV to choose from.

Re: 200 channels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946153)

I've got electric light.

Re: 200 channels... (1)

bizitch (546406) | about 3 months ago | (#46946285)

And I've got second sight!

Here's the Scoop (5, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | about 3 months ago | (#46946335)

Nobody wants to hear this, but it's the truth and people should understand it:

  • Unbundling will not happen anytime soon
  • This is because a handful of TV channels have a f***load of viewers (ESPN, Fox News, etc.)
  • If your TV station has a f**kload of viewers, you are an idiot if you don't charge cable providers a high fee to carry it
  • If you paid for each of those channels a la carte, it might be $10+/month or more, just like HBO
  • Instead, those providers "bundle" those channels with less popular ones because - even though the big channels are the cash cows - they still make money on advertising from less popular channels
  • For anyone (Disney, Fox, others) who have killer content on one channel, having more channels (even including less popular ones) = more money
  • People pay higher cable bills, but more niche programming is out there - for example, the fact that you get Cartoon Network/Adult Swim is subsidized by what you pay for CNN. If channels were unbundled, it's unlikely that the ratings of "Adventure Time" or "Venture Brothers" could pay for Cartoon Network to be on the air.
  • Unbundling may happen at some point, but when it does 70% of today's cable networks will go away. Maybe you don't watch most of them, but recognize that it will result in a diminishing of the wild diversity of programming (brilliant and crap, left and right politically, in many languages) that is arguably one of the best things about the "there's nothing on" diversity of channels today that doesn't appeal to many viewers but serves many previously neglected niches.

Oh yeah right (2)

CTU (1844100) | about 3 months ago | (#46945615)

I be willing to spend a few bucks a station to only get what I want. Could spend maybe $20 and get what I want and saved like $60

Re:Oh yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945649)

The channels you want would have to be much, much more highly priced than you think in an a la carte system. The content providers are not going to allow people to just cherry pick the good channels and charge the same price as they were in the bundle, any more than the cable provider is going to let you pick 5 of the 189 channels and charge you 3% of what you are currently paying. That is a business model that wouldn't work.

Re:Oh yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945729)

The content providers are not going to allow people to just cherry pick the good channels

In the short term you are mostly correct.

In the long term you couldn't be more wrong.

If you are so confident you are correct then let's make a bet :

If you are still correct 10 years from now I give you $100,000.

If I am correct 10 years from now, you will allow me to chop off your
hands and feet with a machete. There will be medical personnel standing by to
make sure you survive the blood loss.

Ready to make that bet ? How confident ARE you, you shit-talking little bitch ?

Re: Oh yeah right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946059)

Dam dude chill out.

Re:Oh yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946195)

Well. That escalated quickly.

Re:Oh yeah right (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 months ago | (#46946339)

Now somebody just needs to mention Nazis....

Shit

Re:Oh yeah right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945775)

ESPN is the most expensive channel in your cable package, and I don't watch sports. Just dropping the sports channels would cut a huge portion out of my (hypothetical) cable bill. Just because most people want ESPN doesn't mean everyone does.

Re:Oh yeah right (4, Insightful)

njnnja (2833511) | about 3 months ago | (#46946303)

The funny thing about a la carte is that it works the opposite of the way most people who think about it believe it will work. A channel has very high fixed costs and overhead so it is likely that that the more demand there is for a station, the cheaper it will be per person, and the fewer people who want to watch a station, the more expensive it will be. So a high demand station like ESPN will probably be very reasonably priced, despite having a high cost to produce.

Re:Oh yeah right (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46946381)

That is an overly simplistic analysis.

Reality is that the supply of ESPN and crappy channel are both unlimited once the channel is 'added' to the network, so the a la carte price is what the market will bear -- ie what is highest price they can charge for it where charging more will lose them more subscribers than the extra revenue will cover.

For a channel like ESPN, they can raise the price pretty high and lots of people will continue to pony up to keep getting it. For a channel like "gameshow reruns from the 70s"... not so much so it will be much much lower.

Re:Oh yeah right (2)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#46946469)

This is probably true, hence even though I want a-la-carte, I would never advocate adding new laws enforcing it. Instead I'd prefer to allow the content companies to become the victims of their own success, as I described here:

http://entertainment.slashdot.... [slashdot.org]

TL;DR, let's just allow the content companies will eventually price themselves out of the market. I don't subscribe to cable anymore, and I always tell everybody I know how they can get their entertainment without a cable sub.

The only people that are screwed are the ESPN viewers and 24/7 news channel viewers. Eventually as other people de-sub, these people will be forced to pay quite dearly for that content, and once these customers feel the pinch, the house of cards falls.

Re:Oh yeah right (3, Informative)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 3 months ago | (#46945677)

Could spend maybe $20 and get what I want and saved like $60

Exactly why they won't let you.

Re:Oh yeah right (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 3 months ago | (#46945695)

I Think it would probably cost the same price to get just what you want. They already know you aren't watching most of the channels, but it doesn't cost them any more money to give you all of them.

The only time they are losing money is when they are giving you something for free that you would have been willing to pay for.

Re:Oh yeah right (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 3 months ago | (#46945713)

I be willing to spend a few bucks a station to only get what I want. Could spend maybe $20 and get what I want and saved like $60

People want ala-carte pricing because they think it will save them money Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

For example, if you are paying $100 a month for 200 channels that works out to 50 cents per channel. So people think they could just pick 20 channels and only pay $10 a month. But, there's nothing that says the cable would have to charge the same price for all channels. They could charge higher prices for the more popular channels and your total cost would remain approximately the same.

Re:Oh yeah right (3, Insightful)

ChatHuant (801522) | about 3 months ago | (#46946031)

You're assuming everybody subscribes to all the popular channels. At least in my case, that's not true; I'd be interested in at most a couple of them, so even if the total monthly cost is spread over only the top say 10 channels, I'd still save quite a bit.

Re:Oh yeah right (2)

fermion (181285) | about 3 months ago | (#46945937)

I like what cox communication has done. Basic cable for $35, removing the channels that has high carriage fees, such as ESPN which in aggregate costs over $6.

The only reason it will cost more per subscriber in some cases is that the costs will not longer be distributed among the 10 million viewers that subsidize the channel. So ESPN will have to decide if it can charge 2,000,000 viewers $20 a month, or cut costs an live on what the free market will actually bear instead of depending on a socialized market. Likewise Fox news cost about a $1 a month, but more people watch Fox News than ESPN, so it might only have to double it's fees. RIght now Fox News and ESPN might be up to 10% of a cable bill.

Most cable and broadcast station charge much less than 50 cents, and maybe that should be the benchmark. If the carriage fee is more than 40 or 50 cents, it should be al a carte. At that rate it makes it worth it to be selective. So a network can choose to be below that number and be included in an economy package, or be above that number and be included in levels of premium packages or a la carte. Is that not how we operate now? If you want showtime or HBO you pay for it.

Why should we pay for ESPN or Fox News just because they afraid they cannot survive the free market?

And again, for most of us it would not cost more.Given the cox model, even if they doubled the carrige fees for a la cart most of us could get all the channels we want for under $50. Only those that wanted the expensive premium channels would have to pay for, honestly a lot morel but that is how it should be.

Re:Oh yeah right (4, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | about 3 months ago | (#46946003)

How can Cox get away with this? Disney is famous for saying "carry all of our channels or none". That means that all of the ESPN channels, Disney channels, ABC, and every other channel that Disney owns must be included with all of a cable company's packages (and charged accordingly) or Disney will refuse to deal with that cable company at all. How can Cox (whoever they are) get away with a deal that no other cable or satellite provider has managed to get?

Re:Oh yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946189)

I have Comcast's "digital economy" package. It too includes ABC and Disney but no ESPN.

And that ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945623)

... is why cable companies sell "packages"

Re: And that ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945977)

Go to any highly successful person and ask them what TV they watch. They will say "none". Then figure out what you could do with the time you currently waste watching TV. Even if you aren't interested in being highly successful, there's a whole life out there waiting for you... (If you care about sports, look up the scores in the paper the next day. Watching someone do a randomly awesome thing so you can gush about it at the office doesn't count as "life".)

It gets worse (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 months ago | (#46945633)

On 17 channels, how many actual shows are being watched...

Most people would be financially better off just buying what they like on iTunes, even at $3/episode.

Re:It gets worse (1)

mozumder (178398) | about 3 months ago | (#46945659)

I only watch a few episodes a month, so it's definitely cheaper to go through iTunes instead of paying $100/month on cable.

Re:It gets worse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945743)

Don't be daft. Today, Real Madrid choked on Villadolid while City demolished Villa. Now tell me how I could have gotten both on iTunes :) long live beIN and NBCsp !

You could have had Real Madrid... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 months ago | (#46945761)

RealMadrid App - TV In-App Purchase - 4.99 [apple.com]

How much was your cable again? Did it cost more than $4.99?

Re:You could have had Real Madrid... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945865)

But I also like to watch Sevilla, and Elche, and Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona, and Liverpool, and Inter Milan, and Motogp, and WSBK ...and on and on. How many apps would I need to purchase ? (By the way, I still think Liverpool will win the title because City will .....

Re:You could have had Real Madrid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945953)

What about the other one? Why do those people like they have to constantly yell that they're the real one. I think they protest too much.

Re:It gets worse (1)

antdude (79039) | about 3 months ago | (#46946433)

Especially when they don't even have commercials!

Monopoly cable companies (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945657)

I live in rural Texas and have one choice for Internet and TV. I pay $128 a month for 250 channels and a 30MBit connection. I watch the following channels:

- BBC America
- SyFy
- Travel
- History
- HGTV
- USA
- Animal Planet
- Local affiliate for Revolution TV show
- My kids watch Nick Jr. and Nick, sometimes Disney

Maybe 10 channels.. what a waste of money. I have the least amount of channels I can get and still qualify for the bundle. If I could get BBC America, I would gladly cut cable, as the rest I can get online.

The Wall still relevant 35 years later (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 3 months ago | (#46945671)

So even with 189 channels, Pink Floyd is still pretty close with the lyrics from "Nobody's Home"

I've got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from.

Same problem as always... (4, Funny)

jasno (124830) | about 3 months ago | (#46945681)

Wife is addicted to crap TV. I would cancel my $200/mo U-Verse service in a second if she'd let me.

Re:Same problem as always... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945741)

Is your wife worth at least $200/mo? If not, why not cancel the wife?

Re:Same problem as always... (1)

antdude (79039) | about 3 months ago | (#46946467)

Or downgrade her?

Re:Same problem as always... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945909)

Sadly, it's the opposite in my house. It's me who loves the TV and all the shows. The wife is content with USA only and maybe History. She prefers surfing her iPhone. If I could get BBC America, I'd gladly cut the cord.

This makes sense (4, Interesting)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 3 months ago | (#46945683)

I am convinced that the price per channel would go up if everyone was able to purchase channels a la carte.

It costs $X to produce all the content, and they need to charge each customer more than $Y (where y = x / number of customers) on average in order to make a profit. Everybody knows no one could possibly be watching 200 channels. But if all of a sudden people decide they want to only pay for 20 channels, then everybody is going to be paying the same price for just those 20 channels.

People want a la carte because they think it will be cheaper, but it probably won't be on average. For example It'll be cheaper for people who watch 5 channels and more expensive for people who watch 30.

The real way to save money on a la carte, is to cut out the middle man (e.g. the cable companies). If you can purchase content directly from the supplier (e.g. from HBO, or comedy central, etc), that's however many less salaraies that need to be paid by your subscription costs.

Re:This makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945779)

The cable company is not the only middleman. The cable tv service companies negotiate with the content companies on groups of channels. It's not just the content, it's the advertising space. The content companies would not want to split up bundles of channels because they sell space for commercials on those crap channels. The TV service companies would probably also like to pay for just the channels that people actually watch.

So the only way to really cut out the middleman is to buy directly from the artist.

Re:This makes sense (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 3 months ago | (#46945837)

If you can purchase content directly from the supplier (e.g. from HBO, or comedy central, etc), that's however many less salaraies that need to be paid by your subscription costs.

Of course, you'll also end up paying for more channels.

I like my movies and have pretty much all the movie channels my cable provider offers: HBO, Cinemax (same parent company), Showtime, The Movie Channel (same parent company), Starz, Encore (same parent company), and Epix. So I'd end up with those, because they produce original programming, but I'd also end up with subscriptions to Sony, Universal, Disney, Paramount, etc.

h:oMo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945685)

7000 uSers 0f [goat.cx]

Damn you, apk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945739)

Always posting your damn host file apk software links. Just stop.

Amazon Prime, Netflix, iTunes (1)

LaoK (124816) | about 3 months ago | (#46945689)

On-demand streaming is the future of TV. The cable and satellite companies are going the way of bookstores and newspapers.

Re:Amazon Prime, Netflix, iTunes (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 months ago | (#46946371)

On-demand streaming is the future of TV. The cable and satellite companies are going the way of bookstores and newspapers.

Ending up being owned by Jeff Bezos?

And 36 are shopping channels (2)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 3 months ago | (#46945697)

Does this number include the duplicate HD channels, the spanish channels, the religious channels, or the pay-per-view channels? 36 shopping channels? Really? REALLY PEOPLE?!? AMAZON ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YA?!?!?

Re:And 36 are shopping channels (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 months ago | (#46945985)

You just explain why people watch only such a small subset of channels.

For you the Spanish channels may not be interesting, for someone else they may be all they watch.

And be glad that Amazon is not good enough for all of us! They're monopolistic enough already. Try to imagine a world where the only place to buy stuff is Amazon (and, where the only place someone can sell stuff, is Amazon). Just the though of it scares me.

Re:And 36 are shopping channels (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 3 months ago | (#46946435)

But think about the amount of money spent to create and maintain 36 separate shopping channels and the amount of money spent to produce long infomercials and then think about the fact that there are enough people buying all this crap to not only pay for all of that but to turn a profit. Barnum was right.

Re:And 36 are shopping channels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946183)

Your post is a perfect example of why these studies by Nielsen are just dumb.

I want to see rules by government enforcing a subscribers package, and F**k discovery corp, viacom, ect... If they don't like it tough sh**. The TLC channel and the rest of the early cable channels are now taking the human race backwards with their moronic programming. Viacom's channel package I should be able to drop completely, I am still steaming over how Direct TV cut a deal with them instead of giving a subscriber the option to drop them.

Nielsen is right about people cutting the cord, for Concast as an example, the bigger their monopoly their prices continue to rise. Usually the more popular a product the lower the price. I'm sure Concast will sit there and use some idiotic statement saying their losing customers so that lose is translated into everyone else paying higher bills, or they'll use the old defunct piracy claims, and or streaming.

And here in Canade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945701)

... And here I am, with about 50 channels, including multiple music channels, for $95/monthly.
Only watching 5 of them.
Yay Canada! Am I right?

Live Sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945709)

Cut the cable years ago, and the one thing I miss is decent sports. My favorite, IndyCar, is typically relegated to NBCSN (with streaming available only to cable subscribers). Soccer, especially Premier League, is the same way. Even some "headline" events - e.g. major college football bowl games - are on ESPN now.

I'm fairly certain they hang onto those sports broadcasts because it's the only thing of value they have left. Can't wait for this to reach its inevitable conclusion.

Apartment deal with cableco (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945733)

My apartment has a deal with the cable company that requires me to pay the apartment complex an extra $38/mo on my rent payment; supposedly this goes towards cable service, but it doesn't reduce the cost if you ask for a cable TV quote from the cable company, so I suspect they're just pocketing the cash.

I only ever watch for live college football games on channels that are available locally OTA as HD (except I don't have an HD anttenna), so somehow I'm paying $38/mo for analog downsampling of HDTV channels that are all available for free in my area.

Fuck Time Warner Cable.

p.s. I live in the cheapest and worst-rated apartment complex (hint: it's section 8 housing) on the "good" side of a city with over 1 million residents; I'd have to pay about $100 more per month if I moved anywhere else on this side of the city, so that's why I tolerate the $38/mo price-gouging.

Re:Apartment deal with cableco (-1, Troll)

pete6677 (681676) | about 3 months ago | (#46946021)

Shit dude, just pay the extra $62 a month and move out of the ghetto. Or just stop paying the extra $38. I bet nothing happens. Especially if your management tolerates the antics of Section 8 freeloaders.

Satellite too. (1)

Mspangler (770054) | about 3 months ago | (#46945747)

I dumped Dish earlier this year. Same reasons; too many commercials on the few channels I did watch, and their last price hike crossed the $50 line.

They tried to convince me stay by offering a free upgrade to HD, but I told them I didn't have an HDTV. That is not strictly speaking true, my TV will do 720P, but it does not have an HDMI input (it has component, composite and S-video.) But close enough. All these HDMI-only boxes are useless (including yours Apple.) And no I'm not replacing my TV until it dies.

They finally gave up and went away. I got a bottom end Roku for watching the few things that might interest me. The one "local" TV station (only 120 miles away) has a Roku channel, so I get some local news and the weather.

Anti-competative measures (4, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 3 months ago | (#46945781)

So the reason we can't pick and choose, instead of buying bundles is because of anti-competitive measures by the suppliers?

Re: Anti-competative measures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945907)

That is completely accurate. They even have requirements that you have to include certain channels in the most popular package. We make a couple of dollars on a $90 package. The content providers suck.

Surprised we found out about it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945789)

considering the Nielson rating of their blog.

I get almost 2000... (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 months ago | (#46945827)

... counting pay-per-view and sports-only channels. Closer to 300 not counting them. I still regularly watch only 3 - 5 of them.

The content providers are the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945829)

The content providers WON'T sell ala carte.

The content providers require bundling

BLAME Disney and the other content providers

I used to work in the industry.

Why do you thing congress dropped this issue like a great stinking turd years ago

BTW there is nothing new in this post. All old news

Re:The content providers are the problem (2)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 3 months ago | (#46945911)

Welcome to Capitalism in America: Parker Bros. Monopoly was a prophetic game. Market making has little to do with supply and demand in the traditional sense. Now its an artificial bundle of services rammed down your throat at inflated prices. Shit you don't want with money you don't have...nor the time to find viable alternatives to your needs, in the current "free" market of consumer choices.... Whatever happened to Freedom of Choice?

17 seems pretty high (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 3 months ago | (#46945831)

Before we cut the cable, our family watched:

PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, E and A&E

We switched to a pure NetFlix and HD antenna environment and couldn't think of going back. We even upgraded all the TVs in the house with the first year savings. Even the ESPN "exclusive" stuff (college basketball and football) can be streamed from somewhere for free.

Re:17 seems pretty high (1)

schnell (163007) | about 3 months ago | (#46946249)

Even the ESPN "exclusive" stuff (college basketball and football) can be streamed from somewhere for free.

Just out of curiosity, what are those (legal) options? I would care far less about ESPN if I could get Monday Night Football legally on my TV somewhere else...

Re: 17 seems pretty high (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 3 months ago | (#46946359)

Could always hit up a sports bar? You don't /have/ to drink so it could be free. If you are there with friends, volunteer to be thr dedicated driver and you may get free soda and/or coffee.

Re: 17 seems pretty high (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 3 months ago | (#46946333)

We switched to just Netflix+UnblockUS about a year ago. OTA is pretty much useless around here (Saskatchewan, Canada).

Still paying $90/mo for internet, though. To be fair its 100Mbps, which is mostly for the higher bandwidth limit.

Average ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945833)

I have not subscribed to cable in more than 20 years and have not watched broadcast in more than 12 years !

Ha ha

FU

57 Channels... (1)

Kuroji (990107) | about 3 months ago | (#46945853)

...and nothing on. The Boss said it well.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

$60+ for ESPN (3, Informative)

CritterNYC (190163) | about 3 months ago | (#46945867)

And a big part of that is the over $60 a year you're spending on ESPN and associated networked even if you never watch sports.

Re:$60+ for ESPN (0)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#46946247)

I'm not spending a penny on it.

Havent watched TV in years, other than 5 minutes at someone elses place now and then. Long enough to remind me how unbearable it has become.

Seriously, the only reason they can get away with this crap is because most of the population are bloody idiots. If they refuse to provide the service the way you want it, then cut them off. Cancel the service. TV is something you can easily do without, it's not like you need it to eat or something. It's the worst possible way to get news or educational material, and at it's best it's just an amusing time waster. I cant believe not just the ridiculous amounts of money people spend on this, but even moreso the ridiculous terms they will stomach. If you really want to see a show and you are willing to pay for that show, I can respect that, but when they tell you no, you cant purchase a ticket for that show, the only way to get it is to purchase 100 other tickets you have no interest in, and you accept that?!?

It would not even take every subscriber simply refusing to enter into unconscionable contracts to stop this crap - just a significant fraction willing to put their foot down and say 'hell no' would be enough to force some sanity back into the market.

Re:$60+ for ESPN (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946253)

Could I just spend $60/yr and get ESPN? That would be great. I have Netflix/Hulu for the stuff on the other channels, but sports and sports news can be tough (although NBC/CBS OTA works quite well for a number of things, ESPN and ESPN3 are tough).

Re:$60+ for ESPN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946425)

Dude, cut out the middle man. Not just the cable co but espn, too. MLB, NFL, NHL, and probably more have paid streaming (web, smart phones, apple tv, etc). MLB Premium is $25 a month.

Wrong conclusions (4, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 3 months ago | (#46945875)

The fact that most people only watch a few channels doesn't really mean that a la carte would be cheaper overall.

Imagine that there are two channels. It takes a hundred bucks to keep the channel airing for a month. We have two viewers, A and B. A likes channel 1, and B likes channel 2, and they dislike the other channel. Right now, they each pay $100 to watch both channels, although they only look at one. Each channel gets paid $50 per bill.

So imagine that we switched to A la carte. Now A only subscribes to 1, and B only subscribes to 2. They channels still need the same amount of money to stay on the air, so what is the new price? subscribing to channel 1 is $100, and subscribing to channel 2 is $100 too. both channels get the same amount of money, both people pay the same bill... and they now get half the programming. Success?

So let's say that now ESPN charges $20 per subscriber. They do so, because they believe that the value they provide to the average subscriber is about $20. Let's say I don't like ESPN, Well, ESPN didn't get any less valuable, it's just that I will not pay the $20, and said $20 are going to be passed on as rate hikes to the people that want to watch the channel.

So while some people that really just watch very few, cheap channels, might get some savings, if your 17 channels include ESPN, Disney Channel, CNN, AMC and HBO, guess what? You will probably be paying a whole lot more than before, as unbundling makes every single channel more expensive, and you just happened to like 'anchor' channels that can really ask for a premium.

Similar to amusement parks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945879)

You pay for the opportunity to ride every ride, but most people are going to hit only 5-10 of them in a visit. If they charged per-ride, the popular ones would be overpriced, and the niche-rides (some that you might love) would eventually disappear.

and i used to watch three channels last year (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945939)

Finally turned on HBO recently, since part of the HOA goodies.
Ten, count them - 10, HBO channels, and of those 6 were playing the same movie

A la acarte with C-band (1)

guantamanera (751262) | about 3 months ago | (#46945941)

I believe if you can still buy a la carte programming with in C-band satellite dish. I got rid of my dish about 4 years ago but I had a 4DTV digital receiver and I only HBO and the SCI fi channel. Sci fi channel I used to pay $50 per year. HBO was I think $15 per month but it included all the HBOs, east, west, actionn spanish.

We HAVE to have a la carte! (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 3 months ago | (#46945957)

It'll stop the ESPNs and CNNs from extorting cable providers. ESPN charges a BOATLOAD for licensing because they know that cable providers can't risk losing the 33% or so of their base for whom that would be a showstopper. Now, if we have a la carte, do you think that 1/3 of the customer base will pay 3 times as much each for ESPN (that would probably be about $25/month) to maintain pricing parity? NO!

It'll also eliminate the garbage channel suites (with clones repeating the same content) as well has putting pressure on content providers to produce stuff we want to see. I really don't give a damn if 50% of channels go away since we're not watching that filler anyway!

Re:We HAVE to have a la carte! (2)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 3 months ago | (#46946077)

You don't quite understand the problem.
ESPN and CNN are forcing cable to bundle, not the other way around.
Did you know ESPN is owned by Disney? They force sports fans to get Disney kids ....
Works both ways.
Putting pressure on the cable companies does nothing. Write congress, not much likely to happen there.
Drop to basic service if you don't want bundles.

So much duplicate content across channels. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46945961)

The new thing they seem to like to do is "simulcast" shows across several channels like it's a big event. But they've been happy to make entire channels out of the shows from other channels for a while now. The illusion of quantity.

Ala Carte my ass (1)

willoughby (1367773) | about 3 months ago | (#46945993)

You all know that they have the technology - via the digital set-top boxes - to only charge you for the minutes you watch, but no-one even talks about that. Why am I paying for ESPN even when I'm watching NBC?

That's why the cable companies are "fighting" ala carte & will finally give in. They don't want folks really thinking about this.

If my phone company can charge me by the minute why can't the cable TV company?

Try 8 (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 3 months ago | (#46946011)

>"Average American Cable Subscriber Gets 189 Channels and Views 17"

I must be above average then (or perhaps below average), since I get something like 300+ channels and watch maybe 8?

Ones I can get over the air (so I don't count those 6, of which I might even watch only 3)+
History
Science
NatGeo
SciFi
AMC
Epix
Encore
WGN

Antenna (1)

stedlj (62084) | about 3 months ago | (#46946025)

I am happy with my FREE 54 digital channels I get from my antenna!

It's the Sports (3, Informative)

Rhyas (100444) | about 3 months ago | (#46946029)

It would be interesting to see if those 17 average out to specific channels, or categories of channels. i.e. Sports Broadcasts.

Honestly, I'd be a cord cutter and I know a lot of other people who would as well, if there were *reliable* alternate way to get the sporting events I want to watch. Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Auto Racing, just to name a few that you can't really get outside of a cable subscription. Football *could* be piled in there as well, mostly because there are relatively few games on the broadcast channels on any given weekend for a given region. However, NFL is probably the *most* available of any sport.

I never watch anything else that can't be reliably streamed from Netflix, Prime, Hulu, etc. But I have to pay for all of it to get the sports. ):

My Guess for Ala-Carte Rates... (1)

west (39918) | about 3 months ago | (#46946039)

1-5 channels $80
6-10 channels $90
11-15 channels $100
16-20 channels $120
21+ channels $150

The average bill goes up, people get less variety, and everyone is happy that we're not paying for stuff we rarely watch.

Over 50 comments and still not quite right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946049)

Guys! It isn't the so-called "cable providers" that will have anything to say about this issue. I mean, what are these "channels" that you speak of? If you want to watch Game of Thrones or whatever, just pay $1 per episode directly to the content producer to watch it. I think this is the way it will end up.

Not what you are paying for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946097)

You don't seem to understand that you aren't paying for the channels you are paying for the service, the cost to run cable, interconnect the network, power, technical support, home installation, etc. Add to that the profit that they suck out off you and you're looking at $15 or so of your bill which is actually going towards paying for content.

With the average price of a channel at less than $0.20 how much do you really think anyone is going to be saving by dropping channels? That's the average price, the channels which is heavily skewed because of the few channels which cost several dollars is weighted against most channels which are just a few cents. Dropping a hundred or so channel is likely to save the cable company a few dollars (if that, you would expect support costs and equipment costs to increase to support this).

Ala Carte makes absolutely no economic sense for anyone, you're going to end up paying more for less at the end of the day. Cable companies are evil enough as it is, ala carte won't change any of that.

So be it... (3, Insightful)

Bartles (1198017) | about 3 months ago | (#46946099)

The data seems to support the notion that consumers are better off subscribing to channels a la carte, but cable companies are of the opinion that 'the price of cable TV wouldn't change much if channels were served à la carte because content providers won't sell the most popular programs to cable companies unless the provider's other channels are also served up.'

Then cable will die.

When a company decides it is better to not provide value to it's customers, and there is now a plethora of other options, they will soon find themselves without customers.

Re:So be it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946287)

"Then cable will die."

The only thing keeping it alive is the sheer cattle-like dullness of their subscriber base.

Already "cut the cord" (1, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 3 months ago | (#46946133)

When I moved a year ago I haven't signed back up for satellite or cable at the new house. Honestly, its just not worth the bill. I pay $8 per month for Netflix and paid $50 one time for a decent HDTV antenna. That gives me plenty of stuff to browse around on and basic broadcast TV. If HBO made HBO GO available as a separate service I'd probably get it just for Game of Thrones, but I'm still doing OK without it (honestly, I'm torrenting it, but I'd be willing to pay $5/month for HBO GO if they'd do it).

Re:Already "cut the cord" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946265)

but I'd be willing to pay $5/month for HBO GO if they'd do it).

You know HBO costs around twice that, yes?

Re:Already "cut the cord" (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 3 months ago | (#46946343)

Yes, and I'm saying what I'd be willing to pay for it. Much more than that and I will simply continue to get what I want through other channels. Valve (via Steam) has already proven that it tends to be better to sell digital goods to lots of people are cheap prices than fewer people at high prices. I'll pay $5/month for HBO GO . . . or they can get nothing.

Oh yeah? (5, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 3 months ago | (#46946165)

Well, there's like a bajillion web sites, and I only visit about ten on a regular basis! Who's wasting bandwidth now? Checkmate, new media!

.

How many of those are broadcast? (1)

dcooper_db9 (1044858) | about 3 months ago | (#46946193)

I'd be willing to bet that at least half of what people watch is available over the air. It used to be that content from Discover's channels was worth paying for but now they have nothing but crappy reality shows. I cut the cord a long time ago. I'd rather spend the money on trips to the beach.

Exclusive Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946205)

...is the only reason to have cable today, and the cable companies know it. This is why they are focused on content lock-in on live sports. This is why some major networks to only allow online streaming to verified cable TV subscribers. This is why my $125 MLB TV subscription will not allow me to watch local games online.

The only hope is that enough people cut the cord so that cable companies cannot afford to buy up all the content any more. Then the content creators realize they don't need cable and can offer content online without moronic rules like blackout locations and required cable subscriptions. Then devices can be created to neatly aggregate your online content (the stuff you want and nothing else), and cable TV can RIP next to land line phones.

And yes, I recently cut the cable [theonion.com] in case you were wondering.

Exclusive Content... (1)

flanders123 (871781) | about 3 months ago | (#46946223)

...is the only reason to have cable today, and the cable companies know it. This is why they are focused on content lock-in on live sports. This is why some major networks to only allow online streaming to verified cable TV subscribers. This is why my $125 MLB TV subscription will not allow me to watch local games online.

The only hope is that enough people cut the cord so that cable companies cannot afford to buy up all the content any more. Then the content creators realize they don't need cable and can offer content online without moronic rules like blackout locations and required cable subscriptions. Then devices can be created to neatly aggregate your online content (the stuff you want and nothing else), and cable TV can RIP next to land line phones.

And yes, I recently cut the cable [theonion.com] in case you were wondering.

PS sorry for the double post, was not logged in the first time :-(

This is why I'm a cord cutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946239)

Now I just get internet TV, free stuff like Crackle, and subscriptions to Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and NetFlix. Still waaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than cable/satellite.

Cord cutting (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 3 months ago | (#46946257)

That's why I cut the cord 5 years ago (cable was free from previous employer, when I had to pay for it, cut the cord. When we moved to HD in 2011, got myself an HVR-1600, built an external antenna, reinstalled BeyondTV and never looked back).

I get all Montreal channels, and PBS Mountain Lake (14 channels so far). No luck for Vermont channels, Mount Royal is blocking LOS to Mt Mansfield. I thought I would miss some shows, but on some days I would need 3 tuners in the HTPC to be able to record everything. I would *never* go back to cable. First, I would need to rent or buy a box to give me the HD my tuners allow me to get, The same box would be encumbered with DRM, and I would need to pay around 25-30$ minimum to get the same channels I get for free (with less compression, no static, perfect picture). What I don't get OTA I stream on the 'net.

My big rant on Canada's DTV transition is how bad it was handled. It was never mentionned that you could just buy a 50$ converter, all that people understood is they needed to subscribe to cable or they would lose TV. Those converters were almost non-existent in stores, and couldn't we have had coupons like in the US?

Yeah, excelsior (2)

theoriginalturtle (248717) | about 3 months ago | (#46946325)

In 1996, my rural cable system sent us a big mailer: GOOD NEWS, WE'RE ADDING SIX CHANNELS!

As it turned out, there were three religious networks and three new shopping channels. I sent them a letter (they were not an ISP back then) suggesting they combine all that crap into one channel, call it The Jeezus Shopping Network, and that would free up the other five analog channels for stuff I actually wanted to watch.

Never heard back from them.

Price of Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46946473)

The price of cable TV wouldn't change much if channels were served a la carte because we won't accept negative interference with our profit margins.

FTFY. You're welcome.

Just went through this (3)

Snotnose (212196) | about 3 months ago | (#46946493)

Went to pay my Uverse bill friday, it had jumped 50% (from 117 to 179). Went through the series I record, found 11 channels I actually care about.
Called Uverse Monday, was on hold 40 minutes and they disconnected me.
Called again Tues, was on hold 40 minutes and they disconnected me.
Called again this morning, ended up agreeing to fewer channels, no HD, no Showtime, for the same damned price I'd been paying the last 4 years.
I'm thinking I'll spend tomorrow researching laws (I live in California) to see if that verbal contract is valid, and what my options are.
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