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Family Friendly Cable Tiers
Comcast, TWC will announce in weeks
by Karl Bode 06:42PM Wednesday Dec 07 2005
Actually a move to avoid having to offer full a La Carte, both Comcast and Time Warner Cable are considering offering family tiers of programming, reports USAToday. Amidst complaints about price-increases, there's been a renewed interest in a la carte, led by the FCC's sudden 180 position swap on the subject. Expected to be announced in a few weeks, the tiers would require a digital box, helping the companies migrate customers.

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steelhead78
Premium,MVM
join:2005-08-23
Carrolltown, PA

Need a cable box

That would definitely make this easier to offer if everything was available with a digital box. Without it you would either need a huge string of filters(traps) to block out or unscarmble unwanted channels, or do a rebuild of all cable systems to make them interdiction (taps at the pole with each port being addressable from the office, allowing them to block/authorize channels by computer. A nice system when in place, but a pain to get up and running and keep running, especually in thunderstorms).

The problem now would be people complaining about having to pay for a box for each tv.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Need a cable box

said by steelhead78:

The problem now would be people complaining about having to pay for a box for each tv.
...and for that? I can't wait to hear the complaint! I, too, am sure that will happen. It will only prove that people want everything and are willing to give nothing in return.

You will not see the cable companies restructuring the analog tiers to accommodate these changes. It's a lot of work, too costly, and takes too much time. You'd have to visit every customer that's already trapped, you wind up exposing channels that people never wanted in the first place - it's just a mess to even try.

I have a VERY sneaky feeling that I know what WILL happen to makes these tiers work... More people that just the family tiers will be required to get the box. I see the only way this will work is to pull those family friendly channels off of analog (which will free up space) and move them to digital. You will see channels like ABC Family, Discovery, History, Disney, Animal Planet, TLC, Nick, USA, TV Land, Hallmark etc... (a lot of which is basic 2) get pulled and moved to digital. This means that if you want a Family package, you will need a box.. If you don't care about the family package, you will STILL need a box to get those channels if you want to keep them.

The idea of the family tier is to ONLY delivery those family friendly channels to the home. Yes, you can place a box on the TV and only authorize those FF channels. Parents will get furious if their kids can pull the input from th box, go straight to the TV, and get non-family friendly channels.

All of this to supposedly save the"family hour" as it was put during hearings yesterday (watched C-SPAN) - It was a VERY good comment which Jon Stewart made on the daily show last night to that ... "WHAT family hour?"

I love when people cry for these things... they NEVER realize the other consequences that come with it. During the re-reg act of 96, people figured that it would protect their rates, make their monthly bills go down, etc... The fact remained that under the new laws, more bills went UP under the new formulas than they did now.

Anyone that thinks the cable companies stepping forward to be the bigger man about all this is naive. The cable companies will benefit from this VERY much so. Not to mention, this could potentially hurt bells in their launch of TV service as there will be families in their world wanting those packages as well which will be lower in price. Why does it hurt? Less revenue and slower returns depending on how many people take them up on it too.

Funny how this all works huh?
ankanoju

join:2004-06-16
Delmar, NY

Need More Channels, not less

Instead of another gimmick to gauge customers, I would like Time Warner to offer GOLTV and ESPN2 HD.
WangFubar

join:2003-10-02
Paradise, CA

Defeats the purpopse

I don't want to be migrated to digital, I can't even tell if there is a quality difference. I had it for 3 months and honestly I prefer the old style analog. I have never been a premium channel sub due to the rediculous cost vs how little I actually watch the channels I have. TV has no "killer app" its all just potato chips for your mind...
I am unmotivated to upgrade to any of the speculated a la carte "packages" (doesnt really give the a la carte feel does it?).
b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA
Reviews:
·Comcast Formerl..

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Defeats the purpopse

said by WangFubar:

I don't want to be migrated to digital,
In reality it would take a digital migration to do true a la carte.

Imagen if you only wanted 10 channels out of 99 on analog cable.

They would have to put 89 filters on your tap.

Toadman
Hypnotoad

join:2001-11-28
Ex Ohioan
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T Midwest
said by WangFubar:

I don't want to be migrated to digital, I can't even tell if there is a quality difference.
On a 20" analog tv, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference. Get a 52" DLP HDTV like I did and you will be able to tell. The digital 480i is much clearer than analog cable.
Big Dawg 23

join:2002-03-27
Northfield, MN

Re: Defeats the purpopse

If you have a Analog TV with S-Video and cannot tell the difference there is one of two issues your Cables/System is crap or you tv is. I have Charter Digital and once I hit channel 100 the sound and picture quality is better.
dylking

join:2001-07-31
Saint Paul, MN

A la Carte

the local paper had a column about a la carte cable choices in today's paper: »www.twincities.com/mld/twincitie···4681.htm

I personally would take a la carte over bundles or tiers, but then I'm on DirecTV, and I have one of thier bigger bundles - but not the sports package. If they could/would go a la carte on the satellite, I'd probably jump in and remove some channels (ESP-x, Shopping, SOAP, and so on) that I never ever look at, and have taken out of my 'channels I receive' list.

I'm glad the FCC is looking at it, but it's not like they can MAKE the cablecos actually do anything...if I understand it right, it's the laws that need to be changed, in addition to the policy...
WangFubar

join:2003-10-02
Paradise, CA

Re: A la Carte

That is a great article, I love the analogy.
b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA
Reviews:
·Comcast Formerl..

Re: A la Carte

It's really a bad analogy because thats not whats happening really.

The reason cable channels are bundled is because the only way to block analog channels is with a filter in the line for each channel. So in the early days the basic tier was the lower channels, one filter blocked the higher ones, and a separate filter or two for the premium channels.

As I said before if you only wanted 10 miscellaneous out of 99 analog channels they would have to put 89 filters on your cable.

The satellite companies has ALWAYS had the technology to do a la carte programming, (conditional access cards at the receiver) fact is back in the C-band days you could get anything you wanted a la carte, but a package was ALWAYS cheaper if you wanted more than three or four channels. I expect the same thing will happen with cable.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: A la Carte

said by b10010011:

It's really a bad analogy because thats not whats happening really.

The reason cable channels are bundled is because the only way to block analog channels is with a filter in the line for each channel. So in the early days the basic tier was the lower channels, one filter blocked the higher ones, and a separate filter or two for the premium channels.

As I said before if you only wanted 10 miscellaneous out of 99 analog channels they would have to put 89 filters on your cable.

The satellite companies has ALWAYS had the technology to do a la carte programming, (conditional access cards at the receiver) fact is back in the C-band days you could get anything you wanted a la carte, but a package was ALWAYS cheaper if you wanted more than three or four channels. I expect the same thing will happen with cable.
You're statements are true, but not quite. You can very much do ala cart programming in analog cable as well. Not all systems transmitted basic 2 in the clear. In Sacramento, for example, when cable started and for the majority of it's existence, basic 2 and 3 cable was always scrambled. You always required a analog addressable box to receive those channels.

It's very easy for any cable system today to offer ala cart programming along analog lines. It just requires a box - traps are not an option.

(A little side note: Sacramento was all scrambled, then trapped and went to the clear, then pulled the traps and rescrambled, then re-trapped and went clear again today. It takes several months each time we did this.

This will just be the straw the broke the analog cable's back. It may be a good thing in the long run.. but bad in the immediate future.

Straphanger
Express is Back
Premium,Mod
join:2001-12-08
Jackson Heights, NY
kudos:2

Addresses decency but price?

This address the obvious issue with decency for families who don't want channels with a good deal of violence and sex coming into their homes. It's a good step for them but it still does not address the issue of price.

The family package will most likely cost somewhere between the cost of basic and standard cable, which will probably be good enough for households with families to support. It brings down the cost slightly for them but everyone will still end up paying more when cable companies roll out price hikes each year.

I'm not saying a la carte pricing will help decrease the cost of cable, which it most certainly will not. Hell nothing short of industry regulation will stop cable rates from increasing at twice the rate of inflation.

In the end, all we need to know is that most families will be happy with the new offerings but everyone will still get pinched in the wallet when the bills come around.
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needforspeed59
Cruise Ship Just Passing Through

join:2001-05-02
La Place, LA

Re: Addresses decency but price?

Maybe the FCC should regulate the prices at the source: The channels that charge the cablecos. How about a step further? Regulate the producers of programs. How about the actors? Directors? Cameramen? Where does it stop?
--
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dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4
said by Straphanger:

This address the obvious issue with decency for families who don't want channels with a good deal of violence and sex coming into their homes.
Ever heard of the V chip? unless your tv set is like 20 years old you have the means to block out objectionable content.
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Straphanger
Express is Back
Premium,Mod
join:2001-12-08
Jackson Heights, NY
kudos:2

Re: Addresses decency but price?

The problem with the V-Chip is that quite a few parents don't know how to use it properly and tweens will probably be smart enough to break through the password-protection, if parents even bother changing it. We have all this great protection technology but kids will either find a way around it or parents will just be completely confused by it.

The best way to keep it out is not to have it coming in the first place. Even with the internet, I've heard about people just pulling the plug out of their modems to keep their kids from going on past set hours because it's impossible to regulate something that is already coming into your house properly.
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GlenQuagmire
Giggidy Giggidy Giggidy Goo
Premium
join:2004-02-16
Grand Rapids, MI
WTF.... Using a digital cable box it does not cost Comcast anything to block channels. All they have to do is reprogram the cable box, just that simple. The customers are demanding this so if you what to make money then you sell the products they want. If you piss off these family groups they will at some point cancel their service entirely.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD
said by Straphanger:

Hell nothing short of industry regulation will stop cable rates from increasing at twice the rate of inflation.
People still continue to subscribe to cable no matter what the price is. Until people cancel their cable subscriptions because of high prices the costs will never go down.
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fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3
said by Straphanger:

This address the obvious issue with decency for families who don't want channels with a good deal of violence and sex coming into their homes.
I hate to call this to the table - but it's not all about the "family" - I've run across a lot of parents that don't have a stick in their b$#Q about what their kids see. I know parents that use the TV to teach their children about right and wrong - I call that responsible parenting.

Parents that want to shield their child from everything that comes in front of them, in my honest opinion, are not doing a very good job. They paint a false picture to their kids that life is all good. At some point in their life, they will encounter all this supposed violence and nudity.

Let's call this what it is.. it's a church friendly package. Plain and simple (and my mind won't change on that) For the government to define what is and what isn't family friendly is plain and simple bull.

When it comes to my children, I am not raising Rod and Todd Flanders... I think my kids need to be exposed to Homer Simpson - from that I will drawl lessons in life on my own.

Don't we have an election coming up again soon too?
plattypus1

join:2005-04-08
Riverside, CA

Families have... parents!

Let me first start by saying I'm not a parent, so maybe this isn't true, but it seems to me that after my wife and I have a kid I'm not going to stop watching programs that I might find inappropriate for children (Bond movies, anyone?). I can't see a lot of families actually cutting out every channel with violence on it so that their kids can't watch it... that's what the V-Chip and cable box pins and all that bullshit is for.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

No different

And how is this different from what we have now? it isnt, its just some family friendly package that no doubt forces you to have some 'must carry' crap in with it. thats just business as usual. let me pick and choose each channel i want without forcing me to subsidize those who like sports.
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FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

This is NOT a la carte; Just a no-sex digital tier

This news isn't the possibility of a la carte at all. It is a Basic pkg plus a Family tier(no sex or violence). For parents it may be a nice choice and maybe a cheaper one, but it isn't picking ONLY the channels you want.

Also note that this isn't a done deal. Expect Fox and Viacom to try and kill this. Only the heat of public scrutiny will allow this to occur at all - maybe.
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steelhead78
Premium,MVM
join:2005-08-23
Carrolltown, PA

Re: This is NOT a la carte; Just a no-sex digital

As I stated above, probably the easiest and most cost effective way to go ala carte would be to go totally digital. Though many people would not be happy needing a box at every TV (especially in their kids rooms).

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

1 recommendation

ala carte

how about a package with no kid channels or shopping channels? I'd consider migrating to digital then.

SpyderCKE
We call that the Dennis Miller Ratio
Premium
join:2000-10-26
Milwaukee, WI

Re: ala carte

That's not a bad idea, but then I do watch some of the old school game shows back in Nickelodeon's heyday. Nothing like watching Marc Summers in his bleached out jeans and a sport coat cheering on a bunch of kids going for the $200 Grand Prize and a Nintendo..

Anyways, the problem I see here is that as we move to Digital, no longer can you hook up 5 TV's in your house for the price of one. I'm sure everyone will be cheering for the move once they start getting charged an additional $5/month or something for every box they rent. So much for saving $20 by cutting out channels you don't watch.
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Cthen

join:2004-08-01
Detroit, MI
Reviews:
·Verizon Wireless..
said by rit56:

how about a package with no kid channels or shopping channels? I'd consider migrating to digital then.
That's how I feel, what about those of us who could careless about a "Family Package"? What kind of discount can we get? Oh yes that's right, we can get McCheap basic that has family sh*t in it that we don't ever watch.
vannyx
Premium
join:2003-07-07
Bronx, NY

CSPAN too much for me.

have you guys watched CSPAN OMG i was so disgusted with those christians talking about how they watch Incest and all kind of wierd kind of sex ive never heard about before. it was disgusting , never watching CSPAN again. I want a package that doesnt have it.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: CSPAN too much for me.

said by vannyx:

it was disgusting , never watching CSPAN again. I want a package that doesnt have it.
C-SPAN has some very entertaining programs. You should watch Prime Minister's Questions sometime. Although sometimes I think it was better when John Major was PM. The late night House speeches where they have one MC yelling out a tirade to an empty House chamber are also entertaining.
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bhorow

join:2004-05-17
Forest Hills, NY

A LA Carte

I think you have to see the tiers before making a decision.
I guess you can create a tier that is just for family programming at would cut out SPIKE TV or ESPN.

I just think we are heading down a dangerous path.

The real truth is that cable companies want you to go to digital, and congress wants everyone to go to digital.

Unless you don't have a box at all. The cable companies charge the same for an analog converter as a digital converter.

So you might as well swap your boxes. Just because you have an digital converter does not mean that you have to get digital tier channels or extra channels. Many cable companies will through in free channels anyway. And you have interactivity with that. So its to peoples benefit to switch to a digital converter, as long as the cost remains the same. For those who don't have any cable boxes, that is another story all together.

ifarrell

join:2000-08-10
Willow Spring, NC

Re: A LA Carte

I don't understand why these so-called Family Channels can't get moved to Standard Cable and then move the so-called objectionable channels to Digital.
This is just another way for Cable Companies to screw people out of more money for Digital Cable Boxes.
Quite honestly, if parents these day can't control the TV viewing in their household they don't deserve to have any TV. They are just using this as a scapegoat for their own irresponsible way of raising children IMO.
Zoly

join:2004-01-04
Houston, TX

Finally!!!

Cool!!! I have a Time Warner and I would love to have a-la cart soon. Every possible religious and republican affiliate would go then out of the channel line-up!
I just love it!!!

cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

Carp!

Sorry but I smell a herring.

If digital cable had the quality of dish, I'd be first in line.
If they had tiers where yes, you still had to get some crap channels bundled but were able to pay per channel, maybe. But like someone previously said, not going to happen.

My provider (Comcast) and its (dis)conception of digital is horrible. It's like watching TV with a veil over the set. (yes, my screen is clean):D

And my analog has some kind of ghost/smear that fades in and out (macrovision?) on some channels (noticeable during black). I'm not the only one that notices this.

A herring under the guise of "Family tier". I wish the FCC had some balls...instead they have jello pudding.:)
vannyx
Premium
join:2003-07-07
Bronx, NY

you seen

you seen the new FCC chairman , he looks like all of those lobbiest meets him after work and kicks his a%& all the time to get their way. ( you guys better leave me alone or im telling congress)MPAA proceeds to give FCC chairman a wedgy).

ViniTheHat
Hat Trickery
Premium
join:2002-09-29
Brooklyn, NY

57 channels and nothing on?

but theres really nothing on anyway...

how about a crocodile hunter tier!?
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ifarrell

join:2000-08-10
Willow Spring, NC

Re: 57 channels and nothing on?

How about the non-ESPN tier. My Cable bill would go down by half
PittsPgh
Premium
join:2003-08-21
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:1
said by ViniTheHat:

but theres really nothing on anyway...

how about a crocodile hunter tier!?
Well maybe 10 of those channels have something. The other 47 have Infomercials after a certain point into the night.
Working late shifts I usually watch late TV.

Paul

I'd drop all the sports channels and Music channels.
and All those QVC type channels!!
scsmith77

join:2003-08-10
Garden Grove, CA

A-La-Carte

What a noval concept. a-la-carte for a industry that back in the 70's promised NO commercials. As usual, it's :bs: And to answer all the critics with regards to analog, ANYONE with an addressable converter box could have channels taylored for them, its all around money and their constant efforts to consume more. Any other thoughts are just foolish.