Uninterested in A La Carte

Forrester Research just released the results of a survey showing that consumers don’t care that much about a la carte channels and wouldn’t be willing to pay very much for the privilege. I might not have agreed a few years ago, but here’s why my opinion has changed:

  1. Better shows on more cable channelsforrester-survey.jpg
    ESPN and Comedy Central used to be the only networks I watched on cable, but now I regularly tune in to FX, TNT and the SciFi network at the very least.

  2. On-demand viewing
    By ordering Netflix DVDs or downloading shows from the Web, I can get access to almost any content I want. If I wanted to drop my cable subscription, I’d virtually be able to get a la carte viewing through other distribution sources. (ESPN being the big exception)
  3. I like browsing
    As much as I’ve complained in the past about paying for things like the Game Show Network, the truth is I like mindless channel surfing. 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.

  4. Social conscience
    Okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit far, but I do think it’s not unreasonable to pay a certain amount of money so that producers have a chance to try out different things, even if they’re not things I like. It’s the same reason I believe strongly in public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

From the Forrester study, 47% of respondents had no interest at all in tiered programming packages. I wonder how they felt a few years ago.

6 thoughts on “Uninterested in A La Carte”

  1. People don’t seem to have much interest in ala carte access to internet information. The free market development of the net has led to free access to everything, by and large.

    A few internet sites with special info are restricted to subscribers.

    I wonder how much parallel there is in that model to television.

  2. I’d be all over A La Carte programming even if didn’t save me any money.

    We are on Dish Network’s lowest tier (non-family) plan. For that we get 100 Channels, probably 20 of those are music so lets call it 80.

    Of the 80 we only watch at most 12 of those even once a year (probably 5 we watch regularly)

    There are a few channels we do want to get but it would practically double our bill to upgrade tot he packacge that would get them.

    Speaking of social conscience, I would actually pay a couple bucks more per month to not subsidize crap time MTV or stuff I have no interest in like ESPN. Of course I probably wouldn’t be as annoyed by ESPN if it didn’t cost me $5/month for something I don’t watch.

  3. if 47% have no interest, doesn’t that mean that 53% have some interest?

    I think one consequence of a la carte would be much more interest, action and enforcement by content producers regarding unauthorized distribution.

    Take a look at the way Canadian satellite service arranges their packages: A base package (broadcast networks and some other basics), premium packages (akin to HBO, etc), then a bunch if mix and match packages of 6,8,10 themed channels (learning, entertainment, sports, kids, etc). You still may have to get a specific package (and its 8 channels) to get one particular favorite.

    I don’t think a la carte will ever fly, but getting some mix and match packages might be a compromise solution.

  4. I really want a la carte, but its about the oppostie reason most people give.

    I only want ESPN, ESPN2, Speed, and throw in 2 of the Fox Sports Net channels for fun.

    I’m willing to pay greater than $5 per channel to get this. However, right now I can’t get those channels for less than $50 a month (because of the 9000 other channels I have to get in the current packages), and somewhere around $10 per channel makes me stick to just OTA-HD.

    Even if it is $10 I still might do solely ESPN and Speed. I just want some kind of option for $20-$30 a month, which right now just gets randomly spent at Fry’s instead.

  5. Great website and I’m REALLY REALLY surprised that you hit the nail on the head but all backwards – how is a networks supposed to grow to one you’d pay money for? What was on ESPN in the beginning compared to now – how do you expect a network to grwo if you look over its launch programming and go me’h – how does ESPN 192 get to ESPN 2007 when you are only willing to pony up when it becomes “world class” and $10 bucks a channel for the top tier, that’s laughable – why would ESPN sell you the channel you want for $10? WE WOULD ACTUALLY PAY MORE … If I were Disney … I would charge $79 a month for ESPN from September to January and $59 a month for the rest of the year. Or for $35 a month if you sign up for a 2 year commitment, I throw in every ESPN channel – what deal will you want? And if you want all Disney and ABC, I’ll throw that in for $10 more … EVERY cable channel would be linked with some massive conglomerate. We would end up in EXACTLY the same boat but actually PAY MORE … you still can’t rid of QVC, it would be FREE, a gift from the cable company … all the religius stations would pay the cable companies $1 to be included in the ESPN package FREE and of course, take the tax writeoff.

    A la carte might’ve worked in the early days of cable but NOT NOW. You can get the 10 channels you want for $100 a month plus, they’ll throw in 100 for free as part of your deal. They will make a la carte so pricey JUST LIKE in restaurants you will gladly take QVC, Trinity and Al Sharpton network to save $5.

    Sorry to be rude but you are being pretty naive …


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