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What Are Consumers Saying About a la Carte?

Discussion in 'General Satellite Discussion' started by Chris Blount, Aug 25, 2004.

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  1. Aug 25, 2004 #1 of 137
    Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

    Jun 22, 2001
    Consumers are getting into the debate surrounding a la carte programming options.

    In comments and letters that have been filed at the Federal Communications Commission this summer on the subject, consumers are backing support for program choice. A lot of the correspondences represent the one that came from Jesse Stinson of Lynn Haven, Fla., who said that out of 60-plus channels his family receives the household occasionally watches no more than 10 or 12 networks, and that "We don't care a plug nickel for the rest of them," he said.

    A la carte programming, Stinson said, "Would be a tremendous option for us if the costs were not prohibitive. I believe in the free market. I think programming providers should be required to let the public determine whether or not their channels are carried or cut."

    C. Archer Woodward of Winsted, Conn., said it's "utterly ridiculous that I am forced to accept a package of 72 channels for $54 when I abhor several of them, think several are immoral and should have restricted broadcast." Woodward said he would watch only about 15 channels, and about five on a regular basis. "A la carte or something close should be implemented immediately," Woodward said.

    Elizabeth Armenta of Dallas said she won't buy cable service "because of the horrible, unregulated content on some channels that I refuse to have in my house with my children." However, Armenta said there are a handful of channels she would pay for if she had the option and if they were not outrageously priced.

    The FCC is taking comments on a la carte issues for a report it will submit to Congress this fall.

    http://www.skyreport.com (Used with permission)
  2. Aug 25, 2004 #2 of 137

    lionsrule Godfather

    Nov 25, 2003
    I love the fact that the FCC seems to be using examples of the far right wing, christian cult's cries over immoral programming. That's hilarious. I'll be happy to hide behind there cries if it get's alacart to pass. I'd love to hand pick about 8 channels for half the price. It's too bad that it takes the untouchable shield of cries over morality and "being bad for my children" to get congress to ALLOW us to pay for only what we want.
  3. Aug 25, 2004 #3 of 137

    scottchez Icon

    Feb 4, 2003
    In each case they say if cost are not high.

    With out the volumn packaging the channel cost would be very high. Today the costs are averaged out so we all pay about 30 cents per channel, with over 10 Million doing this the cost is so small.

    Ala carte pricing without the 10 Million+ volumn purchasing
    ESPN would be $5

    USA would be $5

    CNN & Turner $5

    Fox ALL $5

    NIC $5

    USA NBCs $5
    $30 same as price of basic package

    The cost for the 15 or so channels that everyone wants would be the same as what we pay now but with only 1 /30th of the the channels.

    Congress would have to set fixed pricing to make it work, like $1 a channel.
  4. Aug 25, 2004 #4 of 137

    Link Hall Of Fame

    Feb 1, 2004
    I agree with the a la carte. I only watch probably 5-10 satellite channels, the rest are local stations. I don't see paying $50 a month for a bunch of extra channels I never even turn on.
  5. Aug 25, 2004 #5 of 137

    Chaos New Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    a la carte is the worst idea that anyone ever had. Just unbundle the broadcast networks from "cable" channels and be done with it. Without group packaging, we'd never have the vast majority of channels we have today and TV would have become completely stagnant.
  6. Aug 25, 2004 #6 of 137

    scottchez Icon

    Feb 4, 2003
    " $50 a month for a bunch of extra channels I never even turn on."

    But the point is you would be paying more than $50 for the few channels you want to watch.

    You would loose 10 Million Plus Customer Volumn discounts.
  7. Aug 25, 2004 #7 of 137

    GADAWG Cool Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    I use to pick so many channels for a fixed price with an old c band sat. It worked then why couldn't work now?
  8. Aug 25, 2004 #8 of 137

    Ray_Clum Hall Of Fame

    Apr 22, 2002
    DTV & Dish would still have TC and AT# respectively (to offer a bundling discount - a la telecom), but would be $5 for ESPN, $5 for ESPN2, $2 for Lifetime, $.01 for QVC. They could just price the top 5-10 channels up so high that it would be stupid to go away from the bundled pricing...
  9. Aug 25, 2004 #9 of 137

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

    Nov 7, 2003
    I agree that a la carte just won't work because of the bundling. But, I'd like to have more choices of what bundles I'd like to subscribe to. With DirecTV Total Choice, Total Choice Plus and Premier just isn't enough choice.
  10. Aug 25, 2004 #10 of 137

    durl Hall Of Fame

    Mar 27, 2003
    Just making sure I'm up on my definitions here: "far right wing" = anti-communist. i.e. Anyone who disagrees with the far LEFT wing (socialists/communists)

    So...which other groups do you wish would keep their mouths shut and let the other people run things? :) Sorry...not trying to stir controversy here. Just trying to stress the point that ALL Americans have a say in what happens in government...regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Ain't a republic grand?

    I wish ala carte would work as well, but I have my doubts that we'll see it any time soon. There's a LOT of channels out there that I've never watched and probably never will and I don't like the idea of paying for them.
  11. Aug 25, 2004 #11 of 137

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    I just subscribe to everything, including all four movie packs and watch what I want when I want. Most likely a lot cheaper than the great diversity of channels I mostly watch, if they were priced ala carte.

    "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!"
  12. Aug 25, 2004 #12 of 137
    Chris Freeland

    Chris Freeland Hall Of Fame

    Mar 23, 2002
    Sure their are probably 12 -15 channels that I watch on a regular bases, however I tend to scan all or most of the channels on either the epg or brouse when I sit down to watch TV and every now and then I find a gem of a show on one off the channels that I never watch, so I sub to AT180/Supers/KCBS and KNBC because I like to have a big choice. Also, even the channels that I watch frequently changes their schedule from time to time and some my 12 - 15 channels will change from year to year and sometimes E* may add a new channel that might become a new favorite as well, with "a la carte" I would be stuck paying for those same un changing channels and probable be paying almost as much as I am paying now.
  13. Aug 26, 2004 #13 of 137

    jrb531 Icon

    May 28, 2004
    I keep hearing about how we save by "volume" pricing. Why?

    Do the stations share equipment? Do they share the techs that run the stations? Do they share anything aside from the same owner?

    Would some stations go belly up if they were forced to stand on their own? Yes and what's wrong with that? If the public does not like a product it goes the way of ther do-do.

    Can anyone explain why costs would go up aside from maybe some added costs for managing the separate subscriptions?

    Packages help the big companies who own the stations and nothing more. This is why they are fighting this so bad.

    If I pay $50 a month for $50 channels ($1 each) and ala-cart allows me to pick what I want for $3 each channel (triple the costs) and I only watch 10 channels I still save $20 a month to dump the crap I don't want.

    Years ago with analog their was a technical reason for packages but with the advent of digital systems there is no reason in the world to "force" people to pay for "any" channels they do not want aside from the "business as usual" and "fear of change" along with the current system being good for big business and NOT the consumer.

    If ala-cart was good for these huge companies that we would have had it years ago.

    Why should ANYONE be "forced" to pay $5 a month (average costs for any package with ESPN) for ESPN if they do not watch sports? That's $60 a year wasted.

    I guess I'm just sick and tired of the lame excuses. Sure if these companies are forced to offer ala-cart and are allowed to charge whatever they want costs can go up but we're not that stupid. Make them offer ala-cart "and" justify what they charge and this will work.

    The vast vast vast majority of the country wants ala-cart if it results in real choice and fair costs no matter that the boogie men and company plants here want to say about it. Maybe those against this are afraid that if this goes through then they might lose their fishing channel type channels that prob would not have enough subscribers to sustain it if the rest of us were not forced to pay for it.

    Maybe the HBO's who offer 10 channels with identical programming would be forced to lower costs if we could subscribe to only one HBO instead of the entire package. With the advent of PVR's there is little reason these days to have 10 channels with staggered programming when we can just record what we want when it is on that one channel.

    This is win win win for the consumer which is why the big companies are going to fight tooth and nail against this.

    This is all about $$$!
  14. Aug 26, 2004 #14 of 137

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    In the industry, "stations" refers to broadcasters. When referring to non-broadcast programmers, you can say "channels" or "content providers".

    :confused: How do you know this? Can you provide a credible source for this information, or is it just your opinion and you assume that the "vast vast vast" majority of the country thinks just like you? Frankly, I don't think the majority of the country gives a rip. I doubt ala carte is being discussed around the water cooler or at PTA meetings.

    Of course it is. Isn't everything? I don't know what you do for a living, but would you do it for free, or even half of what you earn now? Complaining about it being about the money is really pointless unless you are an anti-capitalist, and futile regardless. :shrug:
  15. Aug 26, 2004 #15 of 137

    DonLandis Hall Of Fame

    Dec 17, 2003
    a la carte only makes sense if they keep the current bundles and then offer some of the key channels that are only offered in the top bundles- a la carte.

    This would allow you to add that one special channel without needing to buy the big bundle.

    In this way they could increase revenues. All total - a la carte would do would kill off many small channels and reduce the variety of choice for the same or more money.

    What do you want-
    75 channels in a bundle for $50
    + 2 a la carte channels for $3 ea.
    Total $56


    18 a la carte channels for, total $56

    To get those special 2 channels in the current system you need to sub to the "everything pack" at:
    125 channels for $99

    Splitting off HDTV in some HDTV pack is in a way, the direction of a-la carte with bundles.

    Also, since some of us do have a customizable pack with DirecTV now just for the asking (over and over and over again) they really should make this a part of their standard offering and not just something they do for a few.
  16. Aug 26, 2004 #16 of 137
    Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

    May 5, 2003
    This isn't socialism; these companies don't have to justify anything. This is capitalism at its best.

    The multi-channel distributors (cable and DBS companies) are the ones that create these programming packages. The pricing from the programmers is based upon the number of subscribers in a given package. If people do not take a package, then those people will pay through the nose for the same channel in order to make up for lost subscrber revenue and lost advertising revenue. Some channels will go under.
    Says who? We keep getting back to these "fair costs". It is everywhere in the FCC filings.

    Keep in mind a "fair cost" for ten channels may be more expensive than buying a pre-packaged unit of 60 channels.
    More like buy one, get nine free. HBO is not subsidized by advertising. It is a premium package. And this is the kind of pricing you'll see for a la carte if it ever comes to pass. HBO, in most cases, gets a 50 percent take from distributors for each subscriber to the service. One channel will never be a buck and a quarter.

    So, besides the programmers, do you think the distributors want a la carte either?

    There may be five percent of the population that wants a la carte. There may be sixty percent of the nation that wants a la carte. And when it comes time to pick the programming and cost justify it to each individual household, you'd be lucky if two percent goes for a la carte. Mark my words.
  17. Aug 26, 2004 #17 of 137

    jpurkey Godfather

    May 15, 2003
    They should continue to bundle the channels that do not have a high per-subscriber cost, which would include the free and paid to be carried (shopping) channels. However, any channel that wants more than say 25 cents should be offered a la Carte. Such a system would protect the niche channels while the more expensive channels could decide how they want to price themselves to maximize their subscriber count.

    I really don't mind paying 5 or 10 cents each for channels I never watch and I'm willing to do so to prevent them from going away since I know there are channels I watch that others don't and it all balances out. It is paying $1+ for channels I never watch (ESPN and Disney for example) that bothers me.
  18. Aug 26, 2004 #18 of 137

    jrb531 Icon

    May 28, 2004
    "IF" (and yes this is a big if) they forced them to offer ala-cart


    At the same time they were forced to charge a fair price (IE not "punish" people for not taking the package)


    Who still does not want ala-cart?

    I still do not buy the deal we are getting with a package. Why would they offer us a deal if they did not have to?

    As far as HBO goes.... think of the expense, wasted bandwidth and equipment that we have to pay for by having 10 channels of the same staggered programming so that Buy one get 9 free is not accurate.

    Sure the cost is less as we are really paying for only one set of programming for all 10 channels but I still think that you could save significant $$$ by only subscribing to 1 channel of HBO instead of 10. I know it's not a 1 for 1 but if I pay $12 for 10 channels I would be very happy to pay $8 for 1 channel as those extra 9 channels do nothing for me as I'll record whatever I want on HBO on the PVR.

    As far as what the "majority" of people want (majority being 51+%) of course I expressed my opinion as I (and everyone else) have no idea what people want but I see it two ways...

    1. Offer ala-cart as an option which will raise the bills for those who want packages (less subscribers = less advertising = more cost) and lower bills for those who do not want packages.

    2. Leave thing as they stand and continue to watch rates go up and up and up and up

    An alterative solution would be to not offer ala cart but offer more, smaller packages that you can pick and choose. Let's call this "ala-cart light" in which you would have maybe 10 mini-packages instead of the average 3 basic packages.


    Sports1 (Non-ESPN channels)
    Sports2 (ESPN)

    You get the idea but aside from leaving it the way it is... how would you recommend we fix the current situation and allow people NOT to have to pay $5 a money for ESPN and other "expensive" channels?
  19. Aug 26, 2004 #19 of 137

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    I have no problem with ala carte as long as it's voluntary and not mandated by the FCC or the courts. But, you haven't convinced me that the "current situation", as you say, needs fixing.

    If ESPN is priced to the subscriber @ $5-$10/m and some people want to pay that much, more power to them.
  20. Aug 26, 2004 #20 of 137

    jrb531 Icon

    May 28, 2004
    ESPN costs an average of $5 per subscriber for their channels.

    I cannot drop ESPN as it is a part of a package that I want. I agree with the post above. If all the expensive channels were ala-cart and the cheap channels part of packages then I would be fine but making me pay for "premium" channels by adding them to basic packages is not right IMHO.

    Why not add HBO to "all" pachages and raise the rates to cover this? This is, in effect, what they are doing when they force people to pay for ESPN or Disney as part of the basic packages.
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