There continues to be a perception that we’re inevitably moving to an all-a-la-carte TV model… and that somehow that’s a good thing. I was reminded of this assumption in a keynote session this morning at Streaming Media East with Boxee founder Avner Ronen. Obviously Ronen believes in the premise given that Boxee is all about accessing individual programs online and on-demand. However, I believe it’s short-sighted. Yes, I want lots of a-la-carte, on-demand content available. I want Netflix, and Hulu, and iTunes. But I want a lot more than that. I want a business model that supports good programming with high production values, and niche video that realistically often has to be supported by popular, mass-market TV shows like American Idol.
Let me reprise some points I made back in 2007. My opinion hasn’t changed.
- I watch shows on a number of different cable channels now (FX, TNT, SciFi, ESPN and more), which makes the bundle useful to me. Additionally, in an a-la-carte world, those channels would probably end up being as expensive on their own as they are when part of a bundle. (See this breakdown of the economics.)
- I like browsing. I don’t have the time or energy to pick out everything I want to watch ahead of time. Sometimes it’s nice just to flip through channels until something looks good.
- I’m willing to subsidize programming that might or might not end up being successful, and that costs a bit more to make than Survivor Timbuktu. That’s how new, good programming is born.