For years, many people have wondered why they can’t buy T.V. channels one-by-one instead of a single big package of channels, 90% of which are shitty ones they’ll never watch. Now someone has filed a suit against the major cable and satellite companies demanding that they offer their channels on a piecemeal basis. Finally!
The cable industry always protests vehemently, spouting the same stuff: “We can’t do this, it’ll be too expensive!” Bullshit. They also say that if we could order only the channels we want, certain niche channels that have smaller viewership would be dropped altogether because they’re typically packaged with the large-viewership channels. But why should I have to pay for crap I’ll never watch, like religious programming, MTV, the Nashville Network, and all sports channels? It’s not fair, dammit.
Here’s what I’d like to see: letting us go online and change our billing & channel selection at will. Imagine logging into your account, and it displays a list of channels you’re currently subscribed to. There’s also a list of unsubscribed channels you can pick from, so you put a checkmark next to each new channel you want. Maybe you want to drop the Give Jesus Money channel, so you uncheck that one. Frankly, I don’t blame you. Then you click Update Subscription, and once the request is processed on their systems (in a few minutes, hopefully), suddenly your cable box is picking up the channels you picked. Wouldn’t that be cool? I don’t watch cable because I detest the advertising and 95% of the programming, but I’d consider getting a cable package if I had this kind of choice. Having to download torrents of the shows I do watch is kind of a pain, y’know?
So what about pricing? Well, how about charging a flat rate of $1/channel monthly or something? If you honestly watch 100+ channels, then pay for it rather than making the rest of us pay for dozens of channels we don’t want. And if there’s truth to the argument about lower-viewership channels (subsidized by more popular ones) being in danger of being dropped, they can either 1) drop the channels and piss people off, or 2) have subscribers pay a premium price for them. Use the viewership numbers (based on how many subscribe using the web-based idea above) and determine a suitable price. If you must have the Underwater Basketweaving Channel or the Extreme Antiques Channel, you should be willing to pay more for it. And hey, if those channels get more popular, then your fees go down. Yay!
See, it’s not that big of a deal. You cable companies need to stop being such whiny infants and start giving your clients a little more choice and control, even if it costs you some money up front. And look, I just threw in two ideas for free! 🙂