The sale of "households reached" is too strong. People actually watching and caring about the programming is a different number called ratings. That number has it's place in selling advertising (especially show specific ads) but keeping the "reached" number high, even if artificial, is more important. Besides ... a home reached may pick up an occasional viewer who would not have thought in advance to subscribe to the channel. Creating the packages was a progressive effort. DISH started out in 1996 with AT40 ($19.95) in 1996 as their only tier. The next year they started offering AT40 and AT50 putting the newer channels in the $5 higher package. The third level was not introduced until 2000 ($19.95/$29.95/$39.95 levels). In 2000 there were only 5 million subscribers. DISH had a "pick any channel" type package but it didn't last. The programmers still want to reach "everyone". The compromise is to place them in AT250 and let people with lower packages buy the channel a la carte. Not many would accept the position of a la carte only. What would you do with the "must carry" local stations? They don't get paid for carriage. There would have to be some base level package for them. And the government would have to step in and define "distributed on a non-discriminatory manner" to allow DISH to charge their customers 50c for ABC and $1 for CBS or FOX (NBC would be a quarter). Yeah, that is not going to fly.