Cable subscription models unlikely to change in next five years

Craig Lloyd - Jan 14, 2013
Cable subscription models unlikely to change in next five years

If you’ve been waiting for cable companies to offer a la carte options, you’ll be waiting a pretty long time. Following comments made by three cable company executives during a panel at CES 2013 last week, it appears as though such subscriptions as a la carte options will remain a fantasy for at least five years, and likely even longer.

Verizon, DISH, and Starz Media are all well aware that many subscribers would love to cut their cable bills down and choose only the channels they watch most often, rather than paying one huge bill for hundreds of channels that will go unwatched. However, Dave Shull of DISH says that, because of various costs, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.

Shull said that two companies alone account for about 50% of the DISH’s cost for content, one of them being Disney. If DISH were to unbundle the channels, the cost of the priciest channels would be spread across fewer subscribers, which would mean much higher prices. Shull mentions that mini-packages of related shows, such as sports and family programming, that subscribers can pay for on top of basic cable are about as close to a la carte cable as the industry will get for now.

The panelists acknowledged that the high cost of cable is driving some customers to cancel their service in favor of streaming options. However, John Penney of Starz Media says that these kinds of streaming services will never give customers access to premium content, because an $8 monthly subscription isn’t enough to cover the expense of licensing top shows.

However, this doesn’t mean that other companies aren’t working on similar solutions. Intel was rumored to be introducing their own cable and web TV options at CES, and while we didn’t hear anything about that during the show, it’s possible that it’s still in the making. Of course, Apple could also have something in the works as well. We know they’re rumored to out some new TV hardware, but it’s possible they could have more cable options coming to Apple TV in the future.

[via Tech News Daily]

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