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Fox Sports COO: A La Carte TV a 'Fantasy'
by Karl Bode 08:20AM Thursday Aug 29 2013
Earlier this month, 21st Century Fox boss Chase Carey shot down the resurgent interest in a la carte TV (being able to order a lineup of customized, individual channels), insisting that such pricing models were a "total fantasy." Carey would of course like you to ignore the fact that he and other broadcast industry execs are the reason you not only don't see a la carte options, but that you really haven't seen any significant innovative cable TV pricing in the last decade.

Not to be outdone, Fox Sports Fox Sports Media Group has picked up his talking points memo, and has also chimed in to note that waiting for a la carte TV pricing is like waiting for Gandalf the wizard.
quote:
"A la carte is a fantasy," he said. "It doesn't work." In a keynote Q&A, Freer said the value of the cable channel "bundle" is vastly underestimated. "The theory that this television bundle has somehow become too complicated or too much for the world to digest is just not accurate," he said.
While there's certainly some issues with a la carte pricing that could pop up (like the death of niche channels that are dying anyway under our current model), these are the gentlemen who have fought tooth and nail for a decade against any kind of real programming price innovation -- a la carte or otherwise. That's kind of like me shooting you in the leg once each year, then lecturing you after a decade about how your dreams of track stardom are delusional.

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buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

2 recommendations

Me Subscribing to Pay TV

Also a Fantasy...

Unless they really come up with a better model than Netflix.

What I want, when I want with no Ads at a decent price. So it's probably impossible.

SysOp

join:2001-04-18
Douglasville, GA

2 recommendations

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

Remember the time when you paid for cable because it didn't have commercials? Pepperidge farms remembers.

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

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

said by SysOp:

Remember the time when you paid for cable because it didn't have commercials? Pepperidge farms remembers.

super channel 4. i remember it[i think its called HBO now]
--
Despises any post with strings.
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI

1 recommendation

I cancelled my cable as well, because it was not worth paying to watch 3 channels. I refuse to get cable now unless I am not paying for channels I do not watch. I will not support shitty channels.
uk_jeff

join:2013-08-29
For the last 3 years I've been dropping cable in the summer and adding it back for the September - April sports seasons. This will be the first year I don't add it back and will find some other way to watch live sports. All I want is the sports channels and I refuse to pay for 200+ other channels I never watch. I think cable TV is on the verge of a huge bubble popping as more and more people are getting fed up with their ridiculous cable bills when there are plenty of other ways to get content (especially for non-live sports content). I can't wait for it to happen.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 recommendation

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

said by uk_jeff:

For the last 3 years I've been dropping cable in the summer and adding it back for the September - April sports seasons.

Don't like baseball?
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

I don't care to watch sports, so LIVE content isn't important to me.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
He said sports.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

said by Skippy25:

He said sports.

I know what he said. He also said he doesn't watch sports from April to Sept. That is baseball season.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Me Subscribing to Pay TV

Yes baseball. The one "sport" that has to actually encourage it's fans to stand up and stretch in the middle of the game.
tabernak

join:2013-08-10
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
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I dropped cable a year ago and don't miss it. I get fox cbs nbc abc and pbs great over the air and that suffices for me. I've moved to a rural area and 6 mb dsl is my best option so I've added a Netflix dvd plan to fill the gaps. Still loads cheaper than satellite and I have a htpc chock full of stuff that beats any dvr.

After a year with no cable, shows I missed are now on disc, so I now have as steady a stream of stuff to watch as I did on cable for a fraction of the cost. Sports suffer a hair and I'd be the first to buy espn online, but the reality is I still get the big games and would buy xm to fill in the gaps before satellite.

mr sean
Professional Infidel
Premium,ExMod 2001-07
join:2001-04-03
N. Absentia
kudos:1

1 edit

1 recommendation

Wait! Did he...

...just make up an argument? Surely Fox wouldn't stoop so low?

quote:
"The theory that this television bundle has somehow become too complicated or too much for the world to digest is just not accurate," he said.

I don't recall an argument anywhere calling channel bundles "complicated".
I have heard "overpriced", "greedy", "non-innovative", and "dinosaur-like" when describing network bundling.

He seems to be implying we're stupid if we don't like their greedy, dinosaur-like, and overpriced approach to non-innovative cable programming.
--
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Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

1 recommendation

Re: Wait! Did he...

quote:
He seems to be implying we're stupid if we don't like their greedy, dinosaur-like, and overpriced approach to non-innovative cable programming.
In his (feeble) defense, the fact that so many people keep paying an arm and a leg for said bundles after years of two to three rate hikes a year seems to support the whole "stupid" part.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Wait! Did he...

said by Karl Bode:

quote:
He seems to be implying we're stupid if we don't like their greedy, dinosaur-like, and overpriced approach to non-innovative cable programming.
In his (feeble) defense, the fact that so many people keep paying an arm and a leg for said bundles after years of two to three rate hikes a year seems to support the whole "stupid" part.

And in defense of the average household, I submit that 100+ million consumers aren't "stupid", but instead, make an informed decision to continue to subscribe, finding $70+/month for pay-tv a relative bargain for the amount of idle-time it fills with entertainment.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

2 edits

Re: Wait! Did he...

Were your suggested deep, bowel-level enjoyment of paying $70 for TV true, you'd see reflections of it in customer satisfaction studies, where all of these companies rank dead last for a reason.

More likely, I think most people are too lazy to cancel, don't really feel they have other worthwhile options in Internet video yet (especially Sports), don't understand what options they do have, have kids who whine if they can't see certain programming, and likely still subscribe to traditional TV because "this is how it's always been done."

People like inhabiting ruts, then complaining about them.

Not to say there aren't many people thrilled to be paying $100 or more for 300 channels of largely unwatched content, the ones that complain constantly but still subscribe being the dumbest of the bunch.
millerja01a

join:2005-10-03
Durham, NC

Re: Wait! Did he...

And to the kids whining, I submit that mine are cracking up over Netflix's Cartoon Network lineup. They don't care that these shows aren't aired on CN actual because.. well... they're watching them...

Been DirecTV free for 4mos and loving it. May very well cancel permanently.

mr sean
Professional Infidel
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join:2001-04-03
N. Absentia
kudos:1
said by elray:

And in defense of the average household, I submit that 100+ million consumers aren't "stupid", but instead, make an informed decision to continue to subscribe, finding $70+/month for pay-tv a relative bargain for the amount of idle-time it fills with entertainment.

Just so we get the figures correct (as opposed to creative hyperbole):

Total number of TV subscribers (cable, satellite, telco) - 100.4 million
Source: »www.prweb.com/releases/2013/3/pr···9257.htm

Which actually is pretty amazing considering there are only 117,538,000 households (based on 2010 census data). But most reports don't differentiate between business and household television subs in the same way they do broadband. So the number of subs, while impressive, is slightly inflated from the inclusion of business subs.

The saturation does, however, indicate a very mature market. So the providers have limited options to increase revenue:
1. Merger and acquisitions for either diversification or broader sub base.
2. Raise rates because, hey...we can.
3. Innovate content distribution model for long term sustainability.

Unfortunately long term sustainability does not immediately boost short term bonus and compensation packages for corporate oligarchs nor garner support from the poisonously narrow focus of shareholders.

Just one more reason I cut the cord: greedy corporatists with short term thinking.
--
How you can make the world a Better Place
XJakeX

join:2005-03-05
Coventry, RI

1 edit
said by elray:

said by Karl Bode:

quote:
He seems to be implying we're stupid if we don't like their greedy, dinosaur-like, and overpriced approach to non-innovative cable programming.
In his (feeble) defense, the fact that so many people keep paying an arm and a leg for said bundles after years of two to three rate hikes a year seems to support the whole "stupid" part.

And in defense of the average household, I submit that 100+ million consumers aren't "stupid", but instead, make an informed decision to continue to subscribe, finding $70+/month for pay-tv a relative bargain for the amount of idle-time it fills with entertainment.

I am constantly surprised at the ignorance of many people concerning the alternatives to pay TV. So many times, when I tell people I don't have cable and get my TV over the air, the response is either, "Oh, so you only get 4-5 channels now?" or "Really, I thought all that went away in 2009." They have no clue about the sub channels, and some thought that over the air TV disappeared entirely when the switch to digital occurred.

So are people who still pay for TV stupid? No, but many are seriously uninformed. They don't like the ever increasing costs, but they grin and bear it either for family harmony, because they are sports junkies, or because they are ignorant of the options.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Wait! Did he...

said by XJakeX:

I am constantly surprised at the ignorance of many people concerning the alternatives to pay TV. So many times, when I tell people I don't have cable and get my TV over the air, the response is either, "Oh, so you only get 4-5 channels now?" or "Really, I thought all that went away in 2009." They have no clue about the sub channels, and some thought that over the air TV disappeared entirely when the switch to digital occurred.

So are people who still pay for TV stupid? No, but many are seriously uninformed. They don't like the ever increasing costs, but they grin and bear it either for family harmony, because they are sports junkies, or because they are ignorant of the options.

I have yet to meet anyone as you describe in the past three years. No one is so ignorant; they're just the opposite, fully aware of the choices they have, and prepared to make them. A small minority fall under Karl's umbrella, and ruminate from from their rut, everyone else has bigger fish to fry.

They aren't unaware of the sporadic, disconnected, inconsistent world of "other" options - rather, they know the limits of them, and they're not interested in settling for scraps and making excuses for it.

People choose to keep basic pay-tv, because it provides a variety of content that serves everyone in the household, at an affordable price.
wkm001

join:2009-12-14

Rate of change

The rate at which we are willing to consume media differently is growing. If the TV execs think they have as much time as the music industry, they are sadly mistaken.

When internet connections got faster than dial-up it became really easy to download music. Legally or illegally. Now most people have access to wired connections faster than 6 Mbps and HD video is easily accessible.

I'm curious, how much would you be willing to pay per month for Netflix? Even at $15 I see value. At $25 a month I would cancel cable, use an antenna for local channels, and keep Netflix.
TheRogueX

join:2003-03-26
Springfield, MO

Re: Rate of change

I'd pay $25 for Netflix so long as it remained commercial free and their streaming availability was greatly increased.

cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

They said that...

about music (Who would want just to buy a track, and not the whole album?).

iTunes, Amazon, and others have changed that.

We just have to make sure that they don't charge us by the packet...
--
Splat

Missing LPs

@comcast.net

Re: They said that...

Remember 45s? When the music industry killed singles, selling "bundled" songs caused their profits to skyrocket.
microphone
Premium
join:2009-04-29
Parkville, MD

I think a la carte could help some niche channels

The Science Channel and National Geographic seem to have good programming but are often buried in the more expensive "preferred" tier that people would prefer not to pay an extra $15/month per outlet on. I think a lot of people would choose these in their a la carte choices.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: I think a la carte could help some niche channels

what cable system is billing $15 an outlet?

commanguy

join:2013-08-05
I would go for adding those two channels if ala carte were available. I had Preferred for a while with a deal on Performance Internet at about half price in a bundle called Digital Home from Comcast. When it got over $100 I dropped it. I only watched about 6-8 channels off that tier.

Rambo76098

join:2003-02-21
Columbus, OH
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..

It's not a value

It's definitely not a value to be paying $80-120/mo for 200 channels when I will only watch 5. Give me the 5 I want and charge me between $3-8 per channel.

We'll all stop collectively paying for crap channels no one watches, yet we have to pay for them anyway because Viacom/Fox/NBC Universal, etc refuse to sell the channels we want to our cable/sat provider, without the crap channels tacked on.

Until that happens, this guy will never have cable.
hardhead
Premium
join:2011-03-26
Lexington, KY
Reviews:
·Insight Communic..

How to fix it

The only way you're going to get anything different than what is now on offer is to stop buying their product. Period. And don't buy anything from them until you get what you want. Bitching, protesting, petitioning - all utterly useless as long as their revenue stream keeps flowing.

But you'll have to do without until they either die or change, and that's why it'll never happen: Nobody wants to do without whatever they already have. They want to have their cake and eat it too. As long as people are willing to settle, absolutely nothing is going to change; if you believe otherwise, you're psychotic.

Guspaz
Guspaz
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:23

We already have a-la-carte in Quebec

The cable and satellite TV market in our province moved to primarily a-la-carte billing years ago. You buy a basic channel pack, and then you can either buy a certain number of pick-and-choose channels (like a "pick any 30 channels" pack), or you can still buy pre-made packs (which usually work out to cheaper per-channel).

Peoples' cable bills didn't change. We're all still paying the same amount, because the cablecos (and satellite and IPTV providers) simply adjusted their pricing to maintain a similar ARPU. But we do get more flexibility.

This (a-la-carte) is not available in the rest of Canada, oddly. Even companies that offer a-la-carte in Quebec, like Bell, do not allow it outside of Quebec.
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NOYB
St. John 3.16
Premium
join:2005-12-15
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:1

Dare You to Prove It!


"...insisting that such pricing models were a "total fantasy." "

Dare you to prove it!

Provide the option and let customers decide. They will prove you wrong.

KA3SGM
- -... ...- -
Premium
join:2006-01-17
West Chester, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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C-Band Nostalgia

Some of you will never know "true" a la carte unless you used to have a big C/Ku band satellite dish in your yard, 15-25 years ago.

A lot of cable channels were free, and not illegally chipped descrambler type free, but actually FREE FREE.

I used to pay for channel subscriptions by the year, where something like the Weather Channel was $5.95/yr, and if that's all you wanted to watch, that's all you bought.

You also got to watch the East and West feeds of everything, that was included at no charge.

A world of endless options, just waiting for you to pick and choose only what you wanted to pay for, enjoy the free channels for what they were, and ignore the rest.

Then DirecTV and Dish Network came along, bringing a cable TV "packaged" mindset, and ruined it all for us.
--
ROCK 'TIL SUNSET

pjcamp

@comcastbusiness.net

It's no mistake this is coming out of the sports division

Everyone is paying a massive subsidy to people who watch sports. According to the Wall Street Journal, 20% of your bill goes to support sports for the 4% of Americans addicted to it. I suspect the percentage is a lot higher on DirecTV since they try to carry everything.