October 15, 2014

"A la Carte Is the Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had/Your cable bill is basically socialism."

"... rest assured, if you want to pay for your cable channels individually, you will end up paying a ton more."

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
"It's basically socialism" isn't exactly a selling point as long as I still have a functioning remote with which I can scan channels and see that the subsidized channel model has brought us only the lowest common denominator, a wasteland of reality TV, history about things that never happened, trash, and the shoddiest special effects possible. The SyFy network has now one appeal: to see just how terrible it will become before the entire operation burns to the ground as its own shame self-combusts.

Yes, cable channels are in for a relentless slaughter as they might conceivably be rewarded money based on a more direct accounting of who actually wants to watch these shows instead of endless middle managers' projections and interpolations based on "packages." We have a terrible, non-functioning model going on right now and articles like the above plea will guarantee that they will not go gently into the euthanasia chamber for a hit of the gas. Blood will run in the streets of Hollywood; it's up to my ankles.

The cable industry and the massive infestation of parasites which has somehow curled around its spinal cord have only its collective self to blame when it finally succumbs.
Indeed, and think what that says about... you know, actual socialism.

84 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

Wow. That's an incredible argument.

Socialism + corporatism. Buy what the others are buying, because you have no choice and you'll save money.

Is this guy serious, or is it another bad attempt at parody?

Brando said...

De-regulate. Let various providers with various models compete for customers, and see which ones prosper and which ones don't. The only thing the FCC and FTC should be looking out for is to make sure there's no fraud or deceptive practices by the providers.

I basically watch all of my television in the form of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, and as it is have too much to watch (and catch sports at the bar down the street or our apartment's TV lounge with other non-cable using tenants). I think this is where the future lies--content provided over the Internet to televisions, with different types of pay packages offered, and eliminating the middleman of cable companies. It also means watching on your own schedule and in many cases commercial free options.

Anonymous said...

I think what's actually going to happen is that most TV shows, and most channels, will die. Good riddance.

And then, the part that will burn the Left's soul, will happen. We'll start getting shows that actually respect the values of ordinary Americans, because there is a market for those shows, and a la carte pricing means we'll no longer have to pay for the leftist dreck.

When faced with either starving, or producing what the customers actually want, most leftists will chose to starve. But some will break down and give in.

And THAT is why the "media elite" hate "a la carte" pricing. Because it will do to entertainment what the web has done to news.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't know about socialism (today's constant labeling of "Democrats" or "socialism" is meaningless as I read the postwar history of Europe) but this is certainly true:

"The subsidized channel model has brought us only the lowest common denominator, a wasteland of reality TV, history about things that never happened, trash, and the shoddiest special effects possible. The SyFy network has now one appeal: to see just how terrible it will become before the entire operation burns to the ground as its own shame self-combusts."

Beyond that, all I can say is, having noticed whites practice patriotism a la carte - only wanting Thomas Jefferson, without his rape and murder - I don't think it's a good thing to indulge.

I want the truth and nothing but,...

rhhardin said...

I get zero, on the a la carte plan.

rhhardin said...

I question lowest common denominator. You'd think you'd mean the greatest common denominator.

Here's a handy computation of greatest common denominator

define gcd (y,z) {
if(y<0)y=-y;
if(z<0)z=-z;
while(1) {
if(z==1)return 1;
if(y==1)return 1;
if(z==0)return y;
if(y==0)return z;
if(y<z)z=z%y else y=y%z;
}
}

Ann Althouse said...

All you can eat restaurants are so much better than restaurants where you order a la carte… if you're the type that eats mass quantities of low-quality stuff.

Calvinus said...

Coincidentally, I just decided to cancel my cable this morning. I have one specialty sports channel that I love, but I figured out a way to stream the best content on-line. No reason to stay.

Shanna said...

I dont' have cable right now, and go off of netflix, hulu, and I buy a la carte already off of amazon.

What I wonder about is what kind of shows would be produced if people were just buying those shows or that channel directly. It's all a big experiment and I suspect it will end up with you either buying the sports channels or not, and then the rest will be purchased shows a la carte, rather than networks. Netflix is already stepping a toe in, and HBO is the most likely to succeed on an a la carte plan, but we'll see, won't we.

Virgil Hilts said...

When I saw this, I assumed it was going to be about the HBO announcement -- which made it much more likely that we will cancel cable TV within next year and get all content over the internet (Amazon Prime, Netflix, ROKU). If we were offered ala carte, I think we would keep cable TV, but spending $50-$100 a month when you really only want a few things like ESPN, MNF and HBO is inefficient.

Brando said...

"All you can eat restaurants are so much better than restaurants where you order a la carte… if you're the type that eats mass quantities of low-quality stuff."

I'd make an exception for Brazilian BBQ.

Roger Sweeny said...

As Megan McArdle keeps pointing out, the actors, directors, writers, camera people, etc. all have to be paid. Some people can get cheap (or free or advertisement-free) content as long as someone else is paying for it. Althouse readers are forced to pay for networks they don't watch and other people are forced to pay for networks Althouse readers watch.

A la carte pricing will free Althouse readers from paying for what they don't want. But what they do want will be priced high enough to pay all the people who go into making the shows. The total bill for everyone across all media won't go down a hell of a lot.

Anonymous said...

Doubt I would. It's the sports that drive up the price and I have zero desire to watch them.

I'd happily ditch the cable altogether for different outlets, but there are other members of the family to consider.

Bob Ellison said...

People who say "lowest common denominator" usually mean "greatest common factor". But that doesn't sound right, given the rhetoric they're attempting.

Brando said...

"What I wonder about is what kind of shows would be produced if people were just buying those shows or that channel directly. It's all a big experiment and I suspect it will end up with you either buying the sports channels or not, and then the rest will be purchased shows a la carte, rather than networks. Netflix is already stepping a toe in, and HBO is the most likely to succeed on an a la carte plan, but we'll see, won't we."

I think purchased "shows" will be the next evolution in the pricing. When this all gets shifted to the Internet--and it would be, as soon as the regulators stop trying to protect existing monopolies--we're going to see all sorts of packages, tailored for the types of viewers people are. Casual viewers may buy (or "rent") seasons of particular shows, more heavy viewers will pick larger slates of programming--and shows can become far more niche since they're easier and cheaper to produce online. There'd be more experimentation and variety as a result.

Anonymous said...

If you want to have a bad attitude about it (by which I mean looking at it through a lens that denies all human values), Judeo-Christian monogamy is basically 'socialism' too - rationing to keep the peace.

Anonymous said...

The Vagina as Fascist State requires more channels.

Shanna said...

When I saw this, I assumed it was going to be about the HBO announcement

Finally! I wondered if that HBO GO system was a tester. Probably they had so many people using others account that they will be better off allowing them to purchase legally. I find that everything is available free online somewhere if you are willing to look for it, but I would be happy to acquire shows legally if the option is available.

MadisonMan said...

Haven't had cable since the late 80s. Haven't missed it.

Anonymous said...

While bundling has bugger-all to do with socialism in any case, I wasn't able to work out just who Thielman thinks is paying for all that content today.

damikesc said...

A la carte pricing will free Althouse readers from paying for what they don't want. But what they do want will be priced high enough to pay all the people who go into making the shows. The total bill for everyone across all media won't go down a hell of a lot.

...then they'll learn that market forces will slap them around for pricing themselves out of the market and Hollywood will take a much-needed bath on their insane salaries.

Anything too expensive to last...won't last.

tim maguire said...

Roger Sweeny said...A la carte pricing will free Althouse readers from paying for what they don't want. But what they do want will be priced high enough to pay all the people who go into making the shows.

Except for all the ones who have to get into another line of work because nobody is willing to pay for what they produce--that's the part the bundling defender overlooks. Yes, individual channels will be priced so that if you buy al a carte all the channels you now get bundled, you will be paying more for your cable, but few will do that. Most will buy about 6 channels for which their total bill be much less than what it currently is.

Many channels will go under. Probably the major networks will survive, along with sports and religious programming. Science and History channels will have to get more highbrow to lure back what should be their core audience (which they have driven away in disgust).

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

We ditched it maybe a year ago, once we discovered that the ginormous antenna the previous owner installed in the attic crawl space got us pretty much all the broadcast TV we wanted.

Joe said...

It's a very loose analogy, however the basic point remains correct--if you go a la carte, your cable/satellite bill will soar. I predict it will double, if not triple in price.

However, I believe this would drive more content to the streaming model, which is my preferred method of watching. I'd pay much more for Netflix if they got more content and get it more recently. (There are a few TV series I vastly prefer to watch on Netflix, not just because it avoids the commercials, but the stories are complex and it's easier to maintain mental continuity.)

Sigivald said...

a wasteland of reality TV, history about things that never happened, trash, and the shoddiest special effects possible

In other words, things that are profitable and get watched.

He's complaining that what's popular is not to his tastes and therefore the entire model has failed.

Cry Me A River.

(One may make other arguments for or against bundling, but this one is pathetic.)

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...All you can eat restaurants are so much better than restaurants where you order a la carte… if you're the type that eats mass quantities of low-quality stuff.

Well they might be better, but it's unclear just how much better and it depends on the consumer. You're dealing with segmented markets and the choice to use an all-you-can-eat model is really just a type of price discrimination--a customer filter on the front end. Remember that even the buffett joint has to make a profit, though, and think about what that means for their optimal customer mix. Consider also that an a la carte joint likely has a range of offerings at different price points. Value is a mix of price and quality (taking quantity consumed here as a component of the "quality" of the experience) so there is a lot to account for.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

rhhardin said...

I question lowest common denominator. You'd think you'd mean the greatest common denominator.

I don't think anyone who knows math would ever mean greatest common denominator. Greatest common factor, or greatest common devisor would work.

What do you think is wrong with lowest common denominator?

Magson said...

I have the basic cable package for $14 a month that gets me my local channels, plus things like Discovery and Travel, but nothing else, and it's more than I need. I also run Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime. Total cost per month for far more than I could ever watch or care about watching is about $40. I don't find that to be terrible at all.

I do have to stream CBS shows off their website since they're not part of Hulu, but that's not a big deal, and it's free to do that.

Anonymous said...

@magson where do you live that basic cable is $14?????

Anonymous said...

Pay more if you want a big bundle.

I used to watch History channel until they keep running that Pawn shop guy. One less channel for me. No CNN, no MSNBC,...

Why, it is much cheaper buying a $10 antenna to watch all those old movies... Ion, GetTV, MovieTV, GritTV, BounceTV, ThisTV, EscapeTV ... new channels keep popping up running old movies. Then there is Nature on PBS, a few Brit cop shows... Who needs Cable?

Fred Drinkwater said...

SOJO: A functioning family is basically socialist. People look out for each other, the weak are protected, resources are shared, etc. This works because of the small scale and the total lack of intermediary bureaucracy.
Why it does not work on a national scale is certainly a mystery, isn't it?

Will Cate said...

The writer's argument is correct, and those who think otherwise need to learn something about math, the TV business, or both. The only real way to save money in the cable TV racket is to drop it completely.

Tibore said...

Random thoughts:

1. "Everybody chips in, and then everybody gets to watch what they want to watch, and everybody pays for a bunch of channels they don't care about." Ok... so basically the article supposedly advocating for "socialism" (in television) is admitting that it's all about getting a good thing mired in a sea of crap. And again: This is from an **advocate** of the system.

Speaks ill of it when painfully suboptimal efficiency is considered a valued feature.

2. Who says à la carte wouldn't include bundles? I think about the only way it would work is if bundling some channels were possible. The whole "everything is its own individual product" is close to being a strawman. The reality would be that some franchises will be their own "channel" whereas other "channels" would truly be multi-sourced content. In a sense à la carte will simply morph into what we already have in "On Demand" providers like Netflix and cable/satellite On Demand systems.

3. Highlighting what I said in "2": We already have à la carte in a very real sense. It's just not the dominant model yet. And it's yet to break anyone's bank.

4. It's not impossible for à la carte to result in higher prices. Some channels or subscriptions will become so valued that they'll be painfully expensive. Think of the Super Bowl, the World Series, etc. turning into a Pay Per View.

5. Just for reasons involving schadenfreude, I want to see how some clumsy providers screw up bundling. Example: I'd like to see a "Sci fi" bundle wrap together Star Wars and Star Trek content, just to see 3% of subscribers love it, and the other 97% of the fanbois go utterly ballistic over the mere thought of joining the two in any way.

Tibore said...

Oh, last:
"The SyFy network has now one appeal: to see just how terrible it will become before the entire operation burns to the ground as its own shame self-combusts."

I like watching train wrecks too, but as far as disasters go, SyFy has stopped even being an entertaining disaster. It's just an object for contempt now.

St. George said...

What is it like today to watch over-the-air TV ala the olden days?

Can anyone speak to that?

I haven't watched TV in at least five years....

Anonymous said...

Roger Sweeny said..."A la carte pricing will free Althouse readers from paying for what they don't want. But what they do want will be priced high enough to pay all the people who go into making the shows."

Ain't true. The people who go into making the shows really cost nothing. The only people who get mega bucks are the so-called stars, directors, producers when they have a project... the rest make less than minimum wage. Like talentless "artists", they live on a dream that they will hit it big. May be it's better off for the dreamers to wake up and get on with real life.

Joe said...

Don't the arguments for a la carte also apply to the individual channels/networks?

I don't watch most of the content on, say, AMC, but if buying it to simply watch one series is subsidizing the programming for something less popular.

The same is true for Netflix and even, yes, Amazon since the volume of the more popular stuff subsidizes the unpopular stuff. (This is true of EVERY company--would the weird brands of Coke even be made without Coke Classic driving revenues?)

Rusty said...

One word.
Roku

Balfegor said...

All you can eat restaurants are so much better than restaurants where you order a la carte… if you're the type that eats mass quantities of low-quality stuff.

Yes, but some of the best restaurants are the ones where you order a course menu, and you get the courses the chef prepares. Maybe you get to choose your own wine pairing and a desert.

Of course, that's about as far from the cable TV model as it's possible to be. But I'm just saying.

Anyhow, 100% of my TV entertainment consumption is now through Netflix/Hulu/AmazonPrime and various Korean TV Drama services I subscribe to, distinct from whatever they have on Netflix and Hulu. It's more than enough for me. I only wish Comcast would stop trying to upsell me on their cable TV packages -- all I need is the internet.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

What you're really looking at is a confluence of cross subsidies. I searched for the term in the article and didn't find it, but if the conclusion is that an individual will probably pay more if they're billed a la carte the article almost certainly relies on that logic. Differences in consumer preferences between individual channels in a mix and differences in willingness to pay for a given channel or mix mean that theoretically the average consumer, median consumer, and any individual consumer may be better or worse off--you'd have to run the numbers (and use revealed preferences) to really see, and even then you have to answer the question of what your optimal solution really looks like (ie is it the outcome with the most total consumer surplus, or the one with the most # of consumers better off, etc).

Original Mike said...

If you break it up, everybody pays more? This guy should run for Congress (as a Democrat).

Peter said...

"there aren't any new customers entering the market, so cable providers have to increase earnings in other ways ..."

Well, all businesses would like to increase earnings, but they're not always able to do so. Raising prices may mean more profit per customer, but it also means fewer customers; optimum profits occur when (number of customers * profit per customer) is maximized.

But if cable providers have already set their prices at this point (and why wouldn't they?) then raising the price can only result in decreased earnings.

Am I missing something here, or does the author just assume that cable providers have unlimited pricing power?

Pettifogger said...

Roger Sweeny's point about someone needing to pay production costs is plausible and interesting. I am probably getting at least a lower-than-actual-ride on Roku and Amazon Prime.

Though it's tangential, the point brings to mind the difference in orescription drug prices in the US as opposed to the rest of the world. Our prices support R&D. The rest of the world free rides, trying to get down to the marginal cost of making another pill.

We can't free ride on ourselves.

Freeman Hunt said...

We don't have cable, and we were recently at the home of someone who has the full cable package. We scrolled through the channel guide to see what was available. There was nothing appealing.

With the advent of Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu; I don't know how cable beyond Internet service survives.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, just checked basic cable rates in my area to compare with @magson's $14: $26.99 plus approximately $12-15 in additional TV taxes and non-negotiable surcharges of various kinds.

chillblaine said...

Adweek is the cadre of forward-thinkers that brought us the Occupy movement. This is another way for them to convey their prime directive. From each according to their means, to each according to their needs.

Original Mike said...

"With the advent of Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu; I don't know how cable beyond Internet service survives."

Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television. There are limits to our willingness to pay, however.

jr565 said...

If you want to go a la carte you can always do the whole ITunes season pass deal. And you get to keep the episodes. But you'd have to do that for every series you wanted. That could get pretty expensive.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Original Mike said...

If you break it up, everybody pays more?

Yeah, if that were true why wouldn't the cable companies switch to a la carte on their own?

jr565 said...

Netflix is good as it stands. And I buy Netflix. Only Netflix has so much SHIT and so little decent content I find myself asking myself if Iwant to watch "THe Substitute 3" or some ving rhames movie that went directly to cable that I know is going to suck. As per usual, you get what you pay for.
I think the best deal is still basic cable. Netflix for crappy movies and then buying individual series you want to follow on iTunes.


Birches said...

Why, it is much cheaper buying a $10 antenna to watch all those old movies... Ion, GetTV, MovieTV, GritTV, BounceTV, ThisTV, EscapeTV ... new channels keep popping up running old movies. Then there is Nature on PBS, a few Brit cop shows... Who needs Cable?

That's what we do. We finally just started paying for Netflix, because there are no more Saturday morning cartoons and we like to sleep in on Saturday mornings. We probably should have paid up for Netflix earlier, since now my kids aren't asking for the latest new crap advertised during kids shows.

I love sports, but I've found there's more than enough football on Saturday and Sunday with just broadcast channels.

Birches said...

Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television. There are limits to our willingness to pay, however.

You know you can make a dedicated computer for your TV with regular remote (and DVR!) for about $300?
That's what we did.

Brando said...

"Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television. There are limits to our willingness to pay, however."

If anything, using the Internet is far more convenient than cable--you can watch movies on your tablet anywhere you can get a wifi signal, and hook up the Internet to your television if you want that larger screen experience. I wouldn't be surprised if ten years from now people are wondering how we managed during the days when you could only watch television on sets that were specifically hooked up to cable.

Original Mike said...

@Birches - Live is to short to deal with a computer to watch TV. Music on a computer was dumb. Computer TV is double dumb.

Original Mike said...

Pain. In. The. Ass.

Birches said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Besides, bundling the channels together has made Al Gore fabulously wealthy, and he is just one that we know about, so shut up peasants!

tim in vermont said...

"today's constant labeling of "Democrats" or "socialism" is meaningless"

Kind of like the overuse of "RAACCISSM!"

Anonymous said...

Roger Sweeny said...

As Megan McArdle keeps pointing out, the actors, directors, writers, camera people, etc. all have to be paid.


No, they don't. They can go out of business when the subsidies disappear and it turns out that not enough people like the crap that they're producing.

>>>
A la carte pricing will free Althouse readers from paying for what they don't want. But what they do want will be priced high enough to pay all the people who go into making the shows. The total bill for everyone across all media won't go down a hell of a lot.
<<<

You are assuming that, when forced to pay for what they get, people's behavior won't change, and the "get" will remain the same even as the "pay" goes up. It won't.

Anonymous said...

"What I wonder about is what kind of shows would be produced if people were just buying those shows or that channel directly. "

Netflix has a couple of good shows they produce. Good quality, that is, although you might not like the particular type of show.

House of Cards is quite popular.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Roku is great, I enjoy my Roku, but using it costs bandwidth...

I get my HS internet through the cable company. I use Amazon Prime and Netflix at the house and sometimes people will watch movies for most of the night (or keep movies running the background as they sleep). My bandwidth cap is 300Gb/mo and I have bumped up against that twice this year; Roku/internet options are great but you still have to pay to play. Or watch.

Henry said...

Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television. There are limits to our willingness to pay, however.

Amazon Prime or Netflix. Roku box. Mini amp. Speakers. Projector. Mini DVD player (optional). Digital tuner and antenna (optional). Voila! Home theater. No cable bill.

Or, go cheap with Roku box and an LED monitor with integrated speakers.

Original Mike said...

I could live with Fox News, Packers and Badgers sports, History2, and the Science Channel.

Henry said...

I'm surprised that only one person has mentioned ESPN. ESPN is the most expensive slice of the cable bill. For some people this is an outrage. In order to home-and-garden porn or network-news boilerplate you have to pay for sports. For me the opposite is true. In order to have ESPN I would have to sign on for 100 other useless channels. Which I won't do.

Lauderdale Vet said...

I have cable and Hulu and Amazon Prime.

I notice I spend most of my time watching Hulu and Amazon prime (through the XBox One).

Perhaps I should consider cancelling my cable.

Also: if some of these channels weren't rolling in the dough thanks to mandatory subscribership, perhaps they'd manage their money a bit more wisely.

Henry said...

In the end, it's Disney's fault.

Original Mike said...

I watch ESPN sometimes, because it is there. Would never pay for it al a carte, especially if the $30/month in the article is true.

DanTheMan said...

Of course bundling of entertainment is the only option.
That's why when you go to the movies, you have to sit through a half dozen other movies to see the one you want.
Imagine how much money studios would lose and how expensive movie tickets would be if you could just pay to watch only one movie at a time!

Todd said...

DanTheMan said...
Of course bundling of entertainment is the only option.
That's why when you go to the movies, you have to sit through a half dozen other movies to see the one you want.
Imagine how much money studios would lose and how expensive movie tickets would be if you could just pay to watch only one movie at a time!
10/15/14, 3:40 PM


Ah but you do. Your movie is said to start at 4:00PM but it does not actually start until 4:20 or 4:30 because you have to sit through 5 to 8 pitches for other movies that you have not specifically paid to see. They not only charge you $15 for a ticket but make you watch commercials too. So much for "pay per view"...

DanTheMan said...

>>because you have to sit through 5 to 8 pitches for other movies

Have to? In my state, we are allowed to show up 15 minutes after the scheduled start. For just the reason you mentioned.

But my point still remains: You do have to watch all the movies in the "bundle". You can't just get to watch one. That would be... crazy!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Henry said...Roku box

Bro-ham, you don't even need the full box anymore--if you've got a newer TV you can just by the $50 Roku stick (available from Amazon, I'm certain) and plug that puppy in. The inexpensive TV I bought at Costco came with one and that way you don't even need another remote. The Chromecast works much the same way. Newer/better TVs have most of that built in (ie a Netflix channel, etc) so it's easier than ever to get away from getting TV programs and movies through your cable box.

sdharms said...

The bundleing is designed to funnel money to no-talent people. This is not the marketplace or capitalism at work.

Christopher said...

For the person who asked what over the air TV is like these days, I think it's great if you live in a metro area with lots of signals. Yes TV is overrun with reality dreck but there are enough quality shows to make it worthwhile and, not always known, the uncompressed digital image is usually far better than what your average cable company delivers. If you don't need to watch every sing game for example, the NFL is stunning in over the air. But without a doubt the sports options are limited.

One troubling development is the pressure to sell broadcast frequencies to cell phone companies screaming for more inventory. Average broadcast distances declined with the switch fron analog to digital and farming out more frequencies would be another blow right at the time when, as mentioned above, some new channel networks are springing up (though the usually old timey content won't appeal to everyone. However in my area, greater DC, one of the subchannels is nonstop weather from that new competitor to The Weather Channel that I first discovered over the indispensable Roku).

Revenant said...

If you think your cable bill is too expensive, don't get cable. That's the solution I took. Worked like a dream.

It never occurred to me to have the government force companies to sell me exactly what I want, but then again I'm a libertarian.

Revenant said...

Of course bundling of entertainment is the only option. That's why when you go to the movies, you have to sit through a half dozen other movies to see the one you want.

The problem with that argument is that modern cinema is basically shit. An endless series of cookie-cutter "comedies" and flash-bang special effects films designed to be dumb enough that they can be marketed in any language. Movies are far, far dumber than television.

Hell, the 60 hours of "Breaking Bad" that aired between 2008 and 2014 by themselves represent more A-class acting and writing than the entirety of the film industry produced during those same years.

Birches said...

I like sports a lot, but I can't justify the price to watch ESPN thatmuch.

And aside from football season, I don't actually want to watch ESPN programming. I used to love going to the gym so I could watch Sportscenter. Now, not so much.

Broadcast TV has wall to wall football on Sunday and Saturday. Even BounceTV was featuring HBCs on their network. If I lived in my hometown market, I might want baseball and that would require cable, but since I don't, no big loss.

Freeman Hunt said...

Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television.

Neither do I. My television streams all of those without any additional hardware. (It's a cheap Vizio television too.)

Edmund said...

The people who go into making the shows really cost nothing. The only people who get mega bucks are the so-called stars, directors, producers when they have a project... the rest make less than minimum wage. Like talentless "artists", they live on a dream that they will hit it big.

Not really. The production assistants are the only ones paid at that level. just about everyone else makes a lower middle class to middle class living, especially if they are on a series shot in the US.

The "above the line" people (writer, director, actors, producers) are the ones that can make big money, especially since they get residuals from every ticket sold, showing on TV, stream on the internet, and DVD sold.

If things implode the way some here seem to want them to, most television will have the production values of high school plays and cheap porn movies. Big budget movies will survive, mainly due to the overseas markets.

C Hopkins said...

"there aren't any new customers entering the market, so cable providers have to increase earnings in other ways ..."

Well that thought is craftily worded, is it not?

Bopping around the internet I find that there are about 116 million tv households. Pay tv households (including uverse and Verizon fios) number around 103 million. By all accounts that number has already peaked.

There aren't any new customers entering the market but there are plenty of potential customers sitting on the sideline. They've already made a value judgment; current customers are making the same judgment and cutting ties.
---
"Some of us don't want to struggle with a fucking computer just to watch television. There are limits to our willingness to pay, however."

Smart tv's. I can get Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc, on my tv directly from my internet feed.

I haven't had pay tv since early 2001 and don't miss it. If I'm visiting someone who has pay tv I will indulge a bit, but, other than the occasional football game I'd like to see or Anthony Bourdain's show on CNN, I have no use for pay tv.

cubanbob said...

I notice a common theme among the commenters here: cable really doesn't have that much to offer that is worth paying for bundles. Other than basic service and internet what does cable offer that is worth the current prices?
Buy the internet service and get a internet device like a Roku or Apple TV and basic cable and you pay for what you want which on average is a lot less than the packages. I can see paying a buck or two for cable channels that carry ads but beyond that, why? if the ratings aren't good enough to get the ad revenues then why pay for it? If people want to pay for providers that have no ads like HBO and Max thats fine but ultimately they will go internet and charge like a Hulu Plus with a surcharge if they want to survive which is fine by me. I just can't believe that here in the US the home of and the pioneer of the internet we have such crappy high speed internet and such crappy bandwidth limits. Cable companies ought to be stripped of that monopoly as well.

Todd said...

DanTheMan said...
>>because you have to sit through 5 to 8 pitches for other movies

Have to? In my state, we are allowed to show up 15 minutes after the scheduled start. For just the reason you mentioned.
10/15/14, 3:48 PM


But then you have to sit all the way on the right, next to the two kids that are more interested in horsing around than watching the movie...

That is one of the reasons I avoid going out to the movies any more than maybe 2 times a year. Between the cost of the tickets, the per movie harassment, the rude folks that think their phone live is far more valuable than the money everyone else shelled out for their tickets, the brat kids, and the high food prices.

If I have to see something in the theater, I usually wait until it is near the end of its run and then go. At least 50% of the time, my wife and I are the only ones in the place.

Roger Sweeny said...

"I have the basic cable for $14 a month that gets me my local channels, plus things like Discovery and Travel, but nothing, and it's more than I need. I also run Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime. Total cost per month for more than I could ever watch or care about watching is about $40. I don't find that to be terrible at all."

It's not--but it's not sustainable. Right now Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon have such great variety and low price because the shows and movies have already made most of their money. If broadcast and cable revenues go down, where do you think the money is going to come from to pay the actors, sound people, etc.?

rcocean said...

:It never occurred to me to have the government force companies to sell me exactly what I want, but then again I'm a libertarian."

No you're a dummy. The "companies" got their monopoly through Government action. There are regulated, because the barriers to entry are almost impossible. Accordingly, the only way to get them to sell us what we want is through Govt action.

I think you know that. You're probably just a Comcast/TW stockholder or employee.

Todd said...

rcocean said...

That is a bit of a pickle though as local cable would not be available unless someone invested in the infrastructure to allow delivery of cable. That infrastructure is an expense. There has to be some way to justify to a business to incur that expense. A limited monopoly is one of the few ways to provide business with an incentive to make that investment. The shape of the monopoly can be debated but it is difficult to argue against that granting monopolies does bring services to areas that would not otherwise have access to them.

I can "live" with monopolies when they are used in this way as long as there is a clear expiration to that monopoly after a reasonable recouping of the investment.

What then becomes of the infrastructure that remains? Does the government have to take over ownership and maintenance (not a good idea)? Or does the business retain ownership but is now required to open that infrastructure to competitors and if so, how do you set the price?

If the cable infrastructure were really open, there should be room for a company that specifically caters to the a la carte cable market. As there are not yet any of those in the traditional cable market would indicate that the total barrier to entry is still to high.

(sorry if I rambled a little there - broad subject)