Bell Pours Cold Water On Canada's Quest for A La Carte TV
by Karl Bode 02:23PM Friday Nov 29 2013 Tipped by elwoodblues
Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover recently made waves by promising that government would be urging Canadian regulators the CRTC to push Canadian Pay TV providers toward offering a la carte TV programming
. Like in the States, Canadian consumers desire greater flexibility in the prices and programming lineups they're offered. What they get instead is an endless stream of excuses why none of this can happen
, followed by another rate hike.
Not too surprisingly, Bell isn't a particular fan of the government's latest pet project. Bell Media President Kevin Crull last week threatened
that there would be "unintended consequences" if the Canadian government carries through on the effort:
"As we move forward in responding to consumers, we need to be clear that there is an inherent risk. When buying less, the unit cost is going to be higher and overall savings, if any, may be small. As well, variety and quality could decline – maybe dramatically...we are all working hard to find balanced ways to provide flexible options for consumers. So consumers can make the choice – pay a higher unit costs for fewer channels or pay a little bit more and get way more channels."
Except users aren't paying a "little bit more," they're paying an arm and a leg already, and rates continue to soar with no end in sight. The argument has always been that unbundling will kill off niche channels, though it should be noted that most cable operators in the U.S. and Canada fight greater consumer selection of any kind
-- quite simply because the end result if done correctly would be users personally crafting a lower monthly bill.
Meanwhile, as cable companies and broadcasters become more vertically integrated (Comcast/NBC, Shaw/Shaw Media), the incentive to unbundle channels become less and less. The end result is more than a decade of talking about more flexible TV channel pricing options
with nothing much to show for it.
They may not like it but they may end up having no choice. Cord cutting is just as real in Canada as it is in the US. For instance, I took a low end signup for 2 years at $53 a month after tax for some basic channels, though the price increases at the end of the first year. Early termination is $200. I've decided that if the programming doesn't get better (and I'm taking low brow shows that appeal to the masses, like Survivor, and other nitwit programming that seem to dominate) I'll pay the $200 and avoid paying for the year. I saved money then.
And Bell will not be enticing me back. I already get DSL through a third party, so have no need of them beyond the fact that they are already paid for the line rental and still make money regardless of where the customer gets service from. That's the thing that really bothers me. They lose a mass of customers and their response is to jack rates, not try to provide better service. Let's face it, lower prices will draw in more customers, but apparently the old guard running Bell has a 1950's outlook on pricing: make them pay, and if it's not enough, make whoever is left pay even more. And even they won't upgrade some areas because the cost benefit to them isn't there, but they have no problem making everyone pay for expansion into rich areas and new builds, subsidizing those costs on the backs of people they have no intention of providing better services to, similar to US providers.
If they drive people away, the people who stand to lose the most are broadcasters and internet retailers, as people decide that the great internet experiment has been co-opted by corporate interests and goverment stooges, and quietly cancel their services completely.
When did providing services turn into 'gouge them for all they are worth'?
Re: They may not like it lol
I had tv cable via Videotron. Paid for the basic package. One day I'm noticing I have more channels. A tech accidentally switched me to the second tier. Had the two tiers for 8 yrs or so. Was never billed, they never caught on.
There wasn't much I was watching so I decided to run an hdmi cable from the pc to the tv and cancelled Videotron.
A high price in tv cable is the cost of sports.
I never watch sports.
Now I download everything. Most of what I watch isn't even available here. A few shows, like True Blood, had a one year time delay. Now I watch it one hour after it's aired.
There was only one show I couldn't find, and I found it last week. Caught up on all the episodes I hadn't seen.
Providers are adamant about not providing viewers what they would prefer because they would lose money. Take away sports, and that's a significant chop in their revenue streams. Let people pay only for channels they want, and that's another chop.
In the unlikely event one day we can pay for only channels we want, there won't be any difference in the monthly bill. Providers will say whatever they have to, to make sure they don't lose a penny.
Most of the channels I had, I never watched. I'm forced to take French channels - never watched any of them. The 24hr news channels - wtf? I read the news.
With 300gb via my isp in consumption, I rarely use more than half.
Re: I'm not sure how its going to pan out..... they need to put the sports channels into there own pack.
They are the real drivers of high costs.
Go ahead and kill the niche channels. When the executives argue "But it will kill niche channels!" I always immediately question why exactly that is a bad thing... I for one think the bundles could use a few less of [insert someone's, but not necessarily your favorite color here] paint drying channels. Some of which are so boring and stale they have started to crack, chip and flake off showing the cheap cardboard prop stand underneath.
If there is demand for the programming it can probably survive or even thrive by moving to on-demand internet streaming only. We might even see less terrible programming because it won't all be subsidized by the one good program on in the whole forced channel bundle (although I wouldn't get my hopes up).