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:
- Better shows on more cable channels
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.