Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Not from concentrate.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Custom Cable TV

or Satellite. Pay-per-channel plans. Crush Time-Warner Monopoly.
  [vote for,

Say I have a cable package with 70 channels but all I ever watch is the Food Network, BET, and Animal Planet. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a company that offers customized cable plans at say, $2 per channel per month. Or maybe $3 a month for premium channels (HBO etc.), $2 for ultra-popular channels (Comedy Central, CNN, etc.), $1 for just about everything else. Maybe channels ascend or descend in the $3-2-1 categories depending on their popularity. Call it 3-2-1 Cable Inc.?

Surely the technology has to be out there already.

smell, Jun 28 2000

U.S. Law now requires this http://www.business.../tc2002116_0167.htm
Baked as of October 2002. Cable operators are now required to let you do this in the U.S., at least for premium channels. [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

large scale cataloging of package deals http://www.brightid...D45A809}&bucket_id=
reverse engineering delinearization of pricing [LoriZ, Oct 04 2004]


       I sthat one of those "talkie boxes" you are referring to?
vincenzo, Jun 28 2000

       I live in the UK and I think that a company is actually doing something along these lines. I'm not sure what the deal is (I believe that you get tied into some sort of telephone contract) but the technology is certainly there, especially now digital TV is here. I personally think this idea will be implemented within two years....
MrTheRich, Jul 03 2000

       Some of the direct-broadcast satellite companies (like Dish Network) offered ala-carte channel choices for a short while. Sadly, they've given way to more expensive bundles.
koz, Jul 06 2000

       The technology actually IS out there already, but it's still in the testing phase. I work for a company that has been testing it for 3 years, and is currently still testing it. And it IS a telephone company, in fact, MrTheRich.   

       The technology is called Video-On-Demand and it's more than just being able to select only the channels you want. There are also plans for Pay-Per-View channels that start the program when YOU want them to, not on some predetermined schedule. The technology is tied in with ADSL technology, so the package will almost definitely include high-speed Internet as well.   

       The technology should hopefully be out within a year or two, at least up here in Canada.
BigThor, Jul 26 2000

       It's great to read someone who holds this desire - I've wanted this for some time as well. It's like going to the grocery store and wanted to buy a few boxes of cereal and being forced to buy the whole aisle.   

       I'd sign up for it.
rgetty, Jul 26 2000

       Giving consumers control of what exactly they're buying would cost the cable companies money (because they can no longer make you pay for things you don't want.) Your local cable provider is almost certainly a monopoly. So they're unlikely to support this; outsiders trying to break into the market might, at least until they're established. (To wit, koz'es comment.)   

       For those new to this industry, the July/August 2000 issue of Brill's Content (the print version) had an article by Steven Brill in it that explains the background behind Time Warner's temporary ABC blackout.   

       In the course of explaining, the article outlines the overall structure of the cable networks and companies in the US. Cable comes across as a cartel-ladden industry that it's extremely difficult to break into, and in which tit-for-tat deals between giant companies who have shares in both content producers and the monopolist delivery systems determine what gets on, and what doesn't.   

       At least in Brill's perception (he's had first-hand experience with this starting the US "Court TV" channel), consumer desires very much come last; I assume this easily extends to the packaging in addition to the programming itself.
jutta, Jul 26 2000

       We had a cable TV company (Off-shoot of a telecommunications co) that pretty much did this, and is was great. Choose what channels you wanted, pay-per-view movies, the lot.   

       Was I hear you say? Yup, they went broke. Not the telco, just the cable co.
Alcin, Sep 05 2000

       Cable used to be a monopoly, but with mini-satellite dishes, it's broken up some...You still have to get local channels somehow, but now you've got two or three providers to choose from...
StarChaser, Sep 06 2000

       Why would the cable company charge for only a select few when they can hit you up for 200 mostly useless channels?
IBBen, Sep 07 2000

       How else could they get you to pay for the Low-Budget-Movie-of-the-Week channel, when all you wanted was the Passementerie duelling channel.   

       Perhaps Times-Warners foolish blunder will force some reform into the monopolistic cable industry (I read a similar article recently in The New Yorker about the TW-AOL merger - can anyone say, - server or dns error - page not found - ).
Scott_D, Sep 07 2000

       I think that a cable company's costs, and those of similar providers, are mostly fixed, so this raises some unpleasant possibilities for them. Once they have installed the pipeline, it's mostly the same to them, cost-wise, whether you get eighty channels or three -- pay-per-view channels, of course, are still sent to non-subscribing customers, but are scrambled for all but those who have paid for them.   

       So a pay-per-channel scheme is likely to be unattractive for cable companies of all kinds, not just those who hold local monopolies or operate within cartels/oligopolies (although that is a sticky problem on its own). They would probably always need to charge a flat rate for the basic service they provide, which has little to do, as far as they're concerned, with the number of channels you receive or what's on them. If it costs a cable company $10 per connection per month to maintain their infrastructure and so on, they won't be able to risk having households only pay $6 or so for the three channels they actually watch.   

       The solution, and this is apparently what is happening anyway, is to separate the content from the delivery. You pay your provider a flat amount per month for the use of their network, with perhaps a charge for metered bandwidth. Then you deal separately with the channels, who can price their material however they like -- $2 a month, $0.50 a show, free (ad supported), whatever they like. Probably end up being something like the web -- you pay an ISP/cable company a flat rate and seek out your own content.   

       Oops -- did I just prophesy convergence, three years too late? Sorry, everyone.
Monkfish, Nov 20 2000

       [Monkfish] I'd take that deal. 10USD a month plus channel charges would save me plenty. Plus the cable company wouldn't have to carry a bunch of channels nobody wants (even if they're paid for - improve P.R.). The channels no one wants die out due to lack of interest (capitalism in action) instead of being sustained by a cable-buying public which pays for the channels because they have to. One hopes that quality would go up while costs go down.
phoenix, Jun 20 2001

       Just read today that this is now (partially) baked -- in fact required by law, in the U.S. at least. See link.
krelnik, Nov 07 2002

       <dull anecdote> Upon moving into our current home, I ordered basic analog cable. I wanted the VHF channels 2-13. The person I ordered from was quite reluctant to sell this $12/mo service to me and kept trying to upsell me to the "extended" $32/mo package "that has channels out to 70." I resisted.   

       When the cable was installed, lo and behold, using my cable ready tuners provided me with all of the channels that they had tried to sell me for $32/mo. I then understood why they were so reluctant to sell the cheap one because it was identical to the extended plan.   

       Anyway, fast forward a year, a knock on my door and there's a cable tech saying, "Ma'am, I need to install a filter on your cable but it shall only be a minute." I didn't give it another thought until the kids noticed that we no longer got anything above channel 20 or so.
bristolz, Nov 07 2002

       This is a fantastic idea. I've thought about this before. I don't watch much telivision and I refuse to pay the outrageous cable prices they want in my area. (We only have one company and of course, they jack up the price) Give me Tech TV, Discovery channels & I'll be happy any day :)
drosophila, Nov 08 2003

       YES!!! +++++ I thought of this on my own a few months ago and was thinking of posting it here. Much more economical for the consumer, however it may never materialize because corporations would lose a small portion of profit (god forbid). and here in the u.s. most cable companies have a monopoly on the particular area they serve.
superman9k, Dec 16 2003


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle