Over the last few months news outlets have been crediting the cable TV industry for trying to finally compete on price, except if you actually bothered to look at the new "lower cost" tiers being offered
by companies like Time Warner Cable, you'd notice they are loaded with restrictions and fail to offer any real value. More recently the press has been claiming that the cable industry was also finally changing their tune on offering a la carte programming
, except again -- if you took a closer look at how they're defining "a la carte," you'd note there's really not a whole lot of choice involved.
For example, Comcast is currently conducting a trial of "MyTV Choice," which Comcast is pitching as a new lower cost a la carte option currently being tested in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. The service offers a basic bundle of less costly channels called "Get Started" for $25 a month, or a more comprehensive TV tier that includes ESPN dubbed "Get Started Plus" for $45 a month.
Customers can then tack on additional channel "theme packages" (ex: news, kids programming, movies) for an additional $10 each. That's about where the choice part of the equation ends, according to the Charleston Post and Courier
. "We will trial it and then we will look at our results and see whether it's something that may be worth pursuing," Comcast tells the paper.
As with Time Warner Cable's new "TV Essentials
" tier, users in our forums note the offer doesn't really save you much money
. Also like Time Warner Cable's tier there's a number of restrictions; in most trial markets you must
bundle broadband and phone service, which winds up eroding the entire point of saving money.
It's fairly clear that whoever designs theses tiers is more interested in giving the illusion of value than actual value, with upselling users to bigger channel bundles taking priority. However, with wallets getting tighter and Internet video alternatives slowly growing, even the cable industry's most rabid supporters
note the cable industry is going to have to seriously compete on price. Offering tiers that give the illusion of value and choice simply aren't going to cut it.