Agree with the latter statement but evidence that a la carte broke down before the small dish is that bundled appeared as channels went scrambled and you needed to pay for things rather than just find open feeds.
I generally leave out the unscrambled feeds as it is hard to charge a subscription to something available without a control. (DBS can charge subscription on unscrambled channels with the control being the receiver. While one could build or use a third party receiver to view unscrambled content the subscription gives you a receiver that makes the reception trivial. Now there are so few unscrambled DBS channels that they hardly bear mentioning.)
If one is a strict "it isn't a la carte unless the channels are sold individually" believer then any two channels paired leaves the a la carte realm. HBO is no longer a la carte because one gets more than one channel when one adds the service. ESPN is not a la carte if the subscription includes ESPN2 (or any other channel). Personally I am not that strict and go with the industry's use of the term. Channels or related channel groups sold outside of the tier system.
The early departures from per channel a la carte to multiple channel a la carte (small bundles) would still be considered a la carte by the industry ... and by the people who are still buying non-tier multiple channel a la carte via BUD and business offerings.
When things were unscrambled, the variety and large choice were a large driver for people who had BUDs.
I agree ... but non-subscription programming is a category separate from a la carte and tier programming. People who had the means and location to install BUD could pay a one time fee and watch whatever they could find. The only subscription involved was to magazines and guides that helped them find programming. Then the providers realized that normal people were watching and they started protecting their feeds. I was ready to install my BUD when the market changed from free (due to lack of protection) to paid - and ended up not installing the BUD.
A few years later DBS service began and I, like millions of others, were drawn away from the BUD to the simple dish. With no motors, no waiting for the dish to move between channel changes and the ability to watch multiple channels at the same time (on separate receivers).
Small dishes gave the same choice for a price.
Not quite the same choices as a BUD. There are people who still have BUDs because of the additional benefits of having such a dish. There are also people with smaller ku band dish satellite services that are not available via DBS.
But small dishes took off not because they were cheaper than cable but because they have more choices.
That is the cable vs DBS argument, not the a la carte vs tiered argument. DBS being more of a mass consumer based offering followed the cable package pricing. While DBS competed against BUD with operational convenience and dish size they competed against cable with channel selection and availability. And full a la carte was lost along the way as, at the time, it didn't make that much difference.
A la carte on BUD made sense as one did not want to pay for channels on satellites they could not receive. Someone with a simple non-motorized dish could buy the channels on that satellite. DBS didn't have that problem.
I contend that there would be no talk of a la carte at all if we were talking non-sports channels only. They are the ones tilting the price right now.
Sports is the biggest cost but there is some demand for a la carte sale of the higher tier programming. Other than premiums (which are sold a la carte) there are not many channels that are not in Choice ... so that in itself limits the number of channels people can complain about.
People ask for a la carte when they want something they do not have without paying for something they do not want.