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14% of Cable Customers Satisfied, 44% Want A La Carte
by Karl Bode 02:28PM Friday Oct 04 2013
A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 44% of consumers want an a la carte system where they can pick and choose the channels they want. 73% of consumers would prefer a la carte -- or some kind of innovation in channel pricing and bundling -- than cable operators currently offer. The study found that just 14% of consumers were satisfied with pricing and options as they exist today.

The catch? While many people want change in cable TV pricing, few are willing to pay very much for it.

The study found that 16% refuse to pay any more than 99 cents per month, per channel. 24% refuse to pay more than $2, and 22% refuse to pay more than $3. Just 5% say they'd be willing to pay up to $8 per channel. 65% of those surveyed would buy 10 or more channels, 26% would order between six and nine, and the remainder of those polled would want even fewer.

With a renewed interest in a la carte among consumers, broadcasters have been busy the last few months proclaiming that a la carte is "fantasy," and with consumers interested in paying so little -- that may be true. But those same broadcasters are also responsible for refusing to innovate seriously on TV pricing in any fashion, be it a la carte or otherwise.

"With TV in such a state of flux, companies must revisit their business models," PwC's Matthew Lieberman in a column on their findings. "The winners will be those that offer custom services or curate content in the most appealing ways."

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Victoria, BC

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reply to Probitas

Re: I think the option to buy channels

The way I see A La Carte working is if the cable company charges an access fee. To cover their infrastructure costs, labour, hardware, and turn a healthy profit?

How much profit does cable make on your average subscription right now? 15-30 dollars maybe? The rest goes to the above and carriage fees.

So charge a base fee that makes the same profit, and then charge for channels at their actual carriage fee. Show the consumer how bad its getting and how much these channels are actually costing them. Let them pick and choose.

I know A La Carte will make channels more expensive because the destruction of bundling would create fewer viewers per channel. I have to think this would get rid of the fluff, and the quality channels would remain. You might be better paying for 15 channels at a premium than 200 at a discount.