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Guest Message by DevFuse

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ESPN costs me $6-12 a month: outrageous


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#51 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 12:00 PM

I'm only asking NOT to pay for premium channel that I do not want.


I'm not asking for a la carte either... I'm only asking NOT to pay for the channels you like, but that I never watch.

That, then, is how we get to a la carte because each of us likes different channels... but then that model has been tried and abandoned in large part because consumers almost always choose to bundle for savings rather than pay individual prices.

Hmmm - so I shouldn't use a new business model because it might harm the old business model? Interesting viewpoint.


That's not what I said at all. What I said was that Netflix is cheaper now because it is a secondary way to watch TV. You can bet if it becomes the primary choice, the costs will go up. That's the nature of business.

So the "use Netflix because it is cheaper" argument is only true for now... Move enough people away from cable/satellite and to Netflix and watch how Netflix costs go up.

History has taught us this over and over... New thing comes and is cheaper to get marketshare... gets marketshare and then prices go up because no good competition exists anymore... then next new thing comes along. rinse + repeat.

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#52 OFFLINE   inazsully

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 06:14 PM

In a way today's marketing strategy proves your point. It doesn't matter if you're talking about "D" or "E" or the local cable company. They like to brag that they have the most HD channels. They don't mention the quality of said channels or how many are premium movie channels that you have to pay extra for. Just that we have the most HD channels. And it impresses us. Unfortunately quanity often times wins out over quality.

#53 OFFLINE   tommiet

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 06:19 PM

I'm not asking for a la carte either... I'm only asking NOT to pay for the channels you like, but that I never watch.


Steward... please do not take my comments personally. Its the system I'm not happy with.

Sounds like you are asking for a la carte. You do not want to pay for channels you do not watch. That is a la carte. I'm asking for the option not to pay for premium channels I do not want. I think we are talking about 2 different things.

Good change that if you added up all the channels you do don't want (and are required to purchase due to packages offered,) they would not come close to the cost of the drug known as ESPN.

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#54 OFFLINE   oldschoolecw

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 06:27 PM

Steward... please do not take my comments personally. Its the system I'm not happy with.

Sounds like you are asking for a la carte. You do not want to pay for channels you do not watch. That is a la carte. I'm asking for the option not to pay for premium channels I do not want. I think we are talking about 2 different things.

Good change that if you added up all the channels you do don't want (and are required to purchase due to packages offered,) they would not come close to the cost of the drug known as ESPN.

ESPN --- The crack cocaine of Dish programming. :(


You want la carte, it's called cord cutting. That what I'm really thinking about doing once my Dish contract is up in January 13

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#55 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:44 PM

Steward... please do not take my comments personally. Its the system I'm not happy with.

Sounds like you are asking for a la carte. You do not want to pay for channels you do not watch. That is a la carte. I'm asking for the option not to pay for premium channels I do not want. I think we are talking about 2 different things.

Good change that if you added up all the channels you do don't want (and are required to purchase due to packages offered,) they would not come close to the cost of the drug known as ESPN.

ESPN --- The crack cocaine of Dish programming. :(


I'm not taking things personally... I'm just pointing out why you can't just have your way without giving others the option to have their way.

I guarantee you that the number of channels that I don't watch add up to more than what ESPN costs... because there are a lot of channels that I don't watch.

I really don't want a la carte, though... I'm actually okay with the current model that allows new channels to take pennies on the dollar and be in a package that gets them enough subscribers to have enough revenue to spend money on programming rather than have to mortgage themselves to infinity to start up a PPV premium channel and hope they eventually get out of the red!

I would love to see a historical comparison of pay tv price & number of channels over the course of history. My guess is that we aren't paying proportionally as much per channel now as we were when cable first started... and we have more choice by virtue of these packages, in some cases anchored by channels like ESPN that a lot of people want and are willing to pay for subsidizing other smaller less-popular channels existence.

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#56 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 03:29 AM

I would love to see a historical comparison of pay tv price & number of channels over the course of history.


I signed up for DirecTV in 1995. The cost was $29.95/month. There were about 70 channels, and many of the popular ones were not included because they were on USSB. There was no HD, and no DVR option. Local channels were not available, except in NYC and LA.

Today, I have an HD DVR and 250 channels, plus locals. That's 3.5x more channels. 3.5x $29.95 would be over $106/month. The package price for AT250 is about $85, including all DVR fees. This assumes a fixed dollar, but inflation over that period would indicate the price should be about double that, so about $212/month just based on channel prices.

Granted, this is a snapshot, not a long-term historical comparison. Still, it puts things in perspective, does it not?

#57 OFFLINE   tommiet

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 05:12 AM

You want la carte, it's called cord cutting. That what I'm really thinking about doing once my Dish contract is up in January 13

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Looks like a whole lota cords to me!!!! :hurah:
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#58 OFFLINE   pfred

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 01:44 PM

There are probably channels YOU watch that I don't give a rats ass about. Sorry, but that is how it works.... a-la-carte is never going to happen, .

It doesn't have to be a-la-carte. They can also do tiers, like a sports tier, a DIY tier, science&nature tier, ... etc.
I think media companies are shooting themselves in the foot by telling me "You want Discovery, well you have to take ESPN and you over there, you want ESPN, you have to take Lifetime"

#59 OFFLINE   tommiet

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:57 AM

It doesn't have to be a-la-carte. They can also do tiers, like a sports tier, a DIY tier, science&nature tier, ... etc.
I think media companies are shooting themselves in the foot by telling me "You want Discovery, well you have to take ESPN and you over there, you want ESPN, you have to take Lifetime"


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#60 OFFLINE   Link

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 12:10 PM

Even cable companies are finally offering cheaper cable options that don't include ESPN because of the costs. Expanded basic cable is about $70-80 now and gets more unaffordable each year. The cable companies have no choice but to start offering different tier options if they want to keep customers.

#61 OFFLINE   Gloria_Chavez

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 09:42 PM

I signed up for DirecTV in 1995. The cost was $29.95/month. There were about 70 channels, and many of the popular ones were not included because they were on USSB. There was no HD, and no DVR option. Local channels were not available, except in NYC and LA.

Today, I have an HD DVR and 250 channels, plus locals. That's 3.5x more channels. 3.5x $29.95 would be over $106/month. The package price for AT250 is about $85, including all DVR fees. This assumes a fixed dollar, but inflation over that period would indicate the price should be about double that, so about $212/month just based on channel prices.

Granted, this is a snapshot, not a long-term historical comparison. Still, it puts things in perspective, does it not?


So, I've got to ask, are you watching 350% (3.5x in percentage terms) more TV today, compared to 1995?

If you're a median household, you're watching just 13% more TV.
Since 1995 the average cable bill has increased 122%, while TV consumption per household just 13%.

http://www.multichan...1_Per_Month.php

http://blog.nielsen....-all-time-high/

#62 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 02:54 AM

So, I've got to ask, are you watching 350% (3.5x in percentage terms) more TV today, compared to 1995?

If you're a median household, you're watching just 13% more TV.


Much less than in 1995. But I'm getting a picture that is at least 3.5x sharper.

But a dollar today isn't worth what it was in 1995, either. Using the cost of a gallon of gas as a comparison (since government inflation figures are cooked to make things look better than they are), it was $1.16 in 1995 and about $3.66 in 2012. So are you getting 2.2x as far on a gallon of gas as you were in 1995?

Using that 2.2x number, the $29.95 package would be $65.89. Dish's Top 120 is about the closest package that I can come up with that is comparable to DirecTV's Total Choice package of 1995, and the retail price for the AT120 package is $44.99.

My guess is that if you're like most Americans, you spend more on gas than you do on cable/satellite. Maybe you should be more worried about rising energy costs than entertainment...

#63 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 03:11 AM

My guess is that if you're like most Americans, you spend more on gas than you do on cable/satellite. Maybe you should be more worried about rising energy costs than entertainment...


That's actually a pretty good point... and coincides with a discussion I was having recently with my father about how people seem to get way more up in arms about things of lesser importance, while the things of greater importance keep on trucking.

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#64 OFFLINE   Darcaine

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 03:01 PM

Keep in mind that the content you watch on Netflix only exists because it was paid for elsewhere. The movies exist because they were made for the movie theater... the TV shows exist because they were made to air (mostly) on commercial TV.

IF commercial TV goes away then those shows might go away... then Netflix doesn't have new content to stream!


That's not exactly true anymore. Netflix is now in the content creation game because its getting harder and more expensive to license content from the content providers. HBO won't license any of their content, and sees netflix as a direct competitor, esp with HBO Go on the same playground as Netflix.

Lilyhammer, new seasons of Arrested Development, possibly a reboot of Jericho etc will only be available via Netflix for first run viewing. Hulu and Youtube are also now in the first run content business (at least for the States). Won't be long before Amazon does the same thing. Once HBO and Showtime wake up (if they ever do) and realize there's a whole world outside the service providers that desire their content and are pirating it because they refuse to pay for this archaic system the content providers/distributors want to keep in place, and offer direct to consumer subscriptions ala Netflix, there will be a ton of (commercial free for a lot of it) first run content that doesn't require linear tv to access.

Outside of a few shows, most cable channels are becoming less desirable as competiton for first run video content increases from other places, especially to younger people, the likes of who will likely never subscribe to traditional tv.

Edited by Darcaine, 29 May 2012 - 03:12 PM.


#65 OFFLINE   Wilf

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 07:32 AM

That's not exactly true anymore. Netflix is now in the content creation game because its getting harder and more expensive to license content from the content providers. HBO won't license any of their content, and sees netflix as a direct competitor, esp with HBO Go on the same playground as Netflix.


Also, there is a lot of great stuff from the Brits and some gems from Canada on Netflix. No ads, bugs, or banners is a major plus for this viewer.

#66 OFFLINE   Inkosaurus

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:01 AM

Also, there is a lot of great stuff from the Brits and some gems from Canada on Netflix. No ads, bugs, or banners is a major plus for this viewer.


Stewarts point still stands though, this is all content that was created elsewhere.
Part of the novelty of Netflix is its cost, if it becomes a venue for original content it wont have that price anymore.

Netflix is great but it wont be a "cut the cord" option for ever, especially if people keep cutting the cord.

#67 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:46 PM

Yeah, that was my point... the more Netflix becomes an original programming venue, the more they will need to charge.

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#68 OFFLINE   Wilf

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:28 PM

If they need to charge more, I will pay it. Life is too short to spend 20 minutes/hr of TV watching ads. For me, it is the difference between un-watchable "TV", or "TV" I can enjoy.

#69 OFFLINE   goinsleeper

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 02:12 PM

Going back to A La Carte for just a second, I'm at a bit of a loss for the discussion. The easiest model to set the potential for A La Carte would be the current A La Carte, correct?

Why is HBO so expensive outside of the fact that it has no advertisements? Number of customers vs cost for content and exclusive rights?

If customer base drops, HBO would either need to raise it's rates or lower it's content. Same effect would apply to all channels that moved to A La Carte.

#70 OFFLINE   Darcaine

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 03:07 PM

Stewarts point still stands though, this is all content that was created elsewhere.
Part of the novelty of Netflix is its cost, if it becomes a venue for original content it wont have that price anymore.

Netflix is great but it wont be a "cut the cord" option for ever, especially if people keep cutting the cord.


My point is that it already has become a venue for original content (Lilyhammer, new episodes of Arrested Development, possibly new episodes of Jericho etc).

But you guys are right about the cost going up. It already has in the form of cutting DVD rentals from the streaming service. The streaming service will be getting another price hike in the next couple of years, I'm sure.

Going back to A La Carte for just a second, I'm at a bit of a loss for the discussion. The easiest model to set the potential for A La Carte would be the current A La Carte, correct?

Why is HBO so expensive outside of the fact that it has no advertisements? Number of customers vs cost for content and exclusive rights?

If customer base drops, HBO would either need to raise it's rates or lower it's content. Same effect would apply to all channels that moved to A La Carte.


Or the third option, market directly to subscribers and pick up all the folks who refuse to subscribe to MVPDs and pirate HBO content instead. Give them an option that is cheap, easy to use, offers quality and security that bittorents don't and a lot of people will pay for their content.

Not a likely situation for all channels sure, but the ones that can't compete in the new market don't deserve to survive.

Edited by Darcaine, 04 June 2012 - 03:13 PM.


#71 OFFLINE   maartena

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 03:26 PM

But none that take as big a bite of the pie.


Start adding up all the channels geared to women, and children. I don't watch any of it. There are about 15 channels for women (and I am including channels like E! in that), 10 channels for children and teens. I can do without Fox News and MSNBC as well as one is too right, the other too left. I never watch anything VH1/MTV related, including CMT, and that's a good 10 channels right there.

Wanna bet those 30-40 channels cost about as much as the 5-6 ESPN/Sports related channels?
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#72 OFFLINE   lee635

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 04:58 PM

Several years ago, I subscribed to "Dish Picks" where you could choose 10 channels for $15 bucks. The expensive channels weren't allowed of course, still there is an example of an actual ala carte program instead of all this speculation about prices jumping sky high. All this talk about the sky falling from unbundling channels is over-the-top.

I would love an option to choose the channels I want and only pay for what I want. And I am quite certain it would be CHEAPER than what I pay now. :D
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#73 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 05:27 PM

Several years ago, I subscribed to "Dish Picks" where you could choose 10 channels for $15 bucks. The expensive channels weren't allowed of course, still there is an example of an actual ala carte program instead of all this speculation about prices jumping sky high. All this talk about the sky falling from unbundling channels is over-the-top.

I would love an option to choose the channels I want and only pay for what I want. And I am quite certain it would be CHEAPER than what I pay now. :D

That option went away several years ago ... 10 for $15 is $1.50 per channel ... and the basic "AT40" package was $19.95.

I don't see $1.50 adjusted for 10-15 years of inflation per channel to be cheap. Perhaps cheaper than AT120 if all the channels you wanted were available at that rate instead of needing AT250 to get one good channel.

In some ways, that "Dish Picks" pricing illustrates how expensive a la carte today could be. Channels that are 10c to 25c each when sold to 14 million customers turning into $1.50 (or more) per channel subscriptions. Where would the price of $5 subscription groups such as ESPN go other then up?

14 million DISH subscribers (plus subscribers on other distributors) paying $5 to ESPN gives them the money to purchase the sports needed to make ESPN the premier group of sports channels that they are. Cut their subscribers and they will need to raise their prices.

The same goes for the smaller channels getting 10c to 25c per 14 million subscribers. $1.4 to $3.5 million per year helps keep them on the air. If they had to rely on payment ONLY from people who thought of watching the channel in advance they would simply go out of business.

The challenge is figuring out what a channel is worth ... is a Fox Sports regional network worth $2 per month? A local TV station worth $1 per month? AMC worth 75c per month? Or are those channels worth less? That is the challenge for programmers to decide.

#74 OFFLINE   jbart1965

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:29 AM

I am amazed at all the smart people defending ESPN, high cable costs and the excessive control of programmers - that's what you are doing even if you don't think so.

You may accept and even rationalize the current system, but it's not ideal. Consumers have far less choice than they should to exert market pressure on programmers. That is never a good thing in an ostensibly competitive market.

It's true, a la carte could destroy some channels and the "hidden" cross subsidization helps some survive. This argument is overrated, though. ESPN certainly isn't in the business of cross subsidizing non Disney channels. I am sure they try to capture every penny of what they charge for themselves. The industry likes to tout that argument, but the economics are suspect.

There has to be a way for consumers and cable operators to fight back against high prices. Once people top the $100 a month the cost really starts to bite.

ESPN is a big offender. As a sports devotee, I'd be reluctant to give the station up, but how else is anyone going to hold the line on costs? I think ESPN and its family should be folded into a premium channel or higher tier.

A la carte will probably never come, for arguably some good reasons, but I do think Congress or the FCC could do one useful thing: bar programmers from tying. Dish should not be forced to carry ESPN on the basic tier or lose access to other Disney stations.

#75 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 12:06 PM

You may accept and even rationalize the current system, but it's not ideal.

It isn't our system. We are just the ones who pay for it.

ESPN certainly isn't in the business of cross subsidizing non Disney channels.

Not directly ... but in order to get ESPN one has to subscribe to a package of channels that includes non-Disney channels. The absence of a la carte works both ways. One cannot call up a provider and buy just ESPN/Disney. A person who wants ESPN puts money into the pocket of every channel in ESPN's tier.

I think ESPN and its family should be folded into a premium channel or higher tier.

The math is pretty simple. If ESPN is currently getting $6 per subscriber and is being distributed to 14 million DISH subscribers they are collecting $84 million via DISH. That is $84 million that they can put toward purchasing the rights to broadcast and producing broadcasts of the sports people want to see, plus some sports people may not want to see but would not see anywhere else. If ESPN goes into a higher tier or becomes a premium package the per subscriber price has to go up just for ESPN to break even.

Dish should not be forced to carry ESPN on the basic tier or lose access to other Disney stations.

It would just be done another way ... for example, higher prices if other networks are not carried. Buy ESPN for $8, Disney for $6 or both for $9. That kind of pricing may sound silly but that is the kind of deal that is being done. Being in all 14 million DISH homes is important enough that discounts are given to get the "lesser" channels a provider offers included along with the "popular" channels.

Perhaps no provider would be forced to carry ESPN to get the Disney stations, but the pricing would be set to where it would make the most economic sense to buy the bundle ... and pass the savings (and cost) on to the subscriber.




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