Cable Companies... could this system work?

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by DeathStar1, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    Here's something...

    Why can't we pick and choose wich channels we want to get, rather than having to pay 60$'s or so for a package in wich half of the channels we'll never watch?

    For instance, if I had the choice, I'd be receiving only the basic channels 2-13, HBO, Encore, TLC, Discovery, MSNBC, Comedy Central, Sci-Fi Channel, Weather Channel, and Gameshow Network and Cartoon Network. All the other channels we get I hardly watch, with perhaps the exceptino of the Travel Channel.

    Think of how much money we'd probably save if we where charged 2$'s per channel, and only the channels we wanted to receive..

    Could something like this eventually happen?
     
  2. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    I'd go for it. At the very least I'd like to stop paying for all those sports channels I never watch.
     
  3. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

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    I too have wondered about it. Call it the TV Lover's Package. Set a fixed rate per channel (excluding PPV channels) and you only get the channels you want. I would gladly do this in a heartbeat.

    My choice would be:

    ABC
    CBS
    NBC
    FOX
    WGN
    WXSP
    TNT
    TBS
    Cartoon Network
    Fox News
    Headline News
    CNN
    MSNBC
    ESPN
    ESPN2
    ESPN Classic
    ESPN News
    Fox Sports Detroit
    Fox Sports Ohio
    MTV
    VH1
    E!
    Comedy Central
    TLC
    History Channel
    Family Chanel (For Whose Line is it Anyway)
    TV Land
    Weather Channel
    USA
    Discovery
    Golf Channel
    HBO (All 10 of them as 1 channel [​IMG] )
    TCM
    IFC
    FMC*
    MTV2
    G4
    TechTV*
    Trio*
    Bravo
    SciFi Channel
    GameShow Network
    BBC America
    Ovation*
    SpeedVision*
    Sundance Channel*

    * Don't have right now.


    46 in all, times $2 per channel, equals $92 plus cable internet, making it more than what I pay now.

    Maybe I should just be happy with what I have and see what it would cost to get the channels above that I don't have added to my package.
     
  4. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    The channels are 'sold' in packages to get viewers to watch the other stations too. I think that they think that you might someday start watching another channel, which has better (more expensive) advertisers on it.

    As for me, I had my TV remove the ones I don't ever watch. Makes for much better surfing! [​IMG]

    Glenn
     
  5. Scott_J

    Scott_J Cinematographer

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    Cable companies pay for channels at $xx per subscriber. The more subscribers, the larger discount the cable company gets on the channel, the lower your bill. If the cable company only gets a certain channel for 10% of their subscribers, they pay more, which means you ultimately pay more. So if this ever happened, you'd probably end up paying more for less channels.
     
  6. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Cable Industry [​IMG]

    The dogs-breakfast menu is part of it.

    I once wrote a local cable firm to suggest that they do something about the wildly different volumes of different channels - you know, you switch channels, and find its twice as loud as the last one?

    Some moron wrote back that the individual channels are responsible for their volumes, "we have nothing to do with it." !!

    I have no idea why cable rates are so high, when so many of these channels are so larded with commercials that they are almost unwatchable. There's a freaking lot of money being sucked out of us for little value.

    And what's with the weird allocation of channel numbers - why is some decent variety channels randomly interspersed with all the fetish channels (eg., gardening for neurotics, wrestling with weather forecasters, etc.) It's so stupid, but I guess it goes with the assinine effort via the weird packaging to get us to pay for channels we'll never watch.
     
  7. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    Cable rates really are a joke...

    I remember back in the 80's when you could have everything including all movie channels for $40 a month at one point...

    Now, you are lucky to get basic cable for $45 a month... Comcast Digital Cable for example... Upgraded to digital thinking great... Half the digital basic channels are still blocked... Many being the ones I got digital cable for... They tell me that would cost more...

    I think for $50 a month, you should get all the digital basic channels as well as some movie channels and some Pay Per View coupons...

    The inflation rates are ridiculous... The whole thing is just a joke...
     
  8. Jeff*S*C*

    Jeff*S*C* Second Unit

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    Ok, let me ask what probably is a dumb question (I'm too tired right now to think about it). The cable company monopoly. Why do we have it?
     
  9. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    One simple reason we have cable monopolies is the increadible startup cost to run 1,000+ miles of cable in a location just to start providing service. Also since currently most cable runs do not have the bandwidth to support multiple cable companies, we cannot even force them to share lines like we can with cellphone towers and long distance calls. Then on top of that, Atlanta based consumer advocate Clark Howard has said that satellite has had almost zero impact on cable companies.


    Of course where I live in Newnan, GA we actually have two cable companies and the cost of extended cable is only about $30 a month (no pay stations) and cable modem service is another $25 to $30 a month (modem included).

    Chuck Anstey
     
  10. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    And that "moron" is correct. There's nothing that cable companies can do to force channels to have different volumes.
     
  11. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    There is a bit of a technical challenge with limiting broadcast channel lineups. That's why there is always that basic tier of services with the heavy hitters (CNN, MTV, ESPN).

    After that, you get into the more niche channels of the Digital Tier. Here, as Scott mentions, the cable companies pay per eyeball they can bring to it. Because they can get bundles of eyeballs through each tier, they can get the cost per channel down to a manageable level. As soon as you move it to ala carte, the price per channel goes up.

    The reason why you're paying for cable channels that have commercials is because of the cost of running any station. The major networks have so many eyeballs associated with them that advertising pays their entire cost. A cable channel automatically reaches fewer people, and they have to compete with all of the other channels for your attention. So their way to stay afloat is the revenue from the cable subscriber and traditional advertising.


    From a technology standpoint, they can easily limit which channels you have access to. But it would result in an increase on the cost per channel you're paying. It may be a lower bill, but you're paying more for what you're getting, not less. Additionally, you're likely to be choosing the channels that command a higher price per subscriber than the cheaper, more niche channels. As an example, ESPN (the big gorilla of non-premium channels) is 18x more expensive than TV Land or the Game Show Network.

    Forced to compete heads up, the niche channels will dry up faster than a department store offering clothes for cats. But if you make the feline apparel just a booth outlet in a mall, they can afford to last long enough to get the attention of customers.
     
  12. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    I cannot stand that on Direct(& on dish also) their are like 4-8 spanish language channels(half are locals). Why do I need them?? Direct has a package to get a bunch of the channels(disney, mtv) in spanish. And before anyone says it. I know their are spanish speaking homes that might want it and also the "must carry locals" laws. But, it's all ridiculous that I have to pay for them. If I don't pay for them, then I apologize.

    ps-Their is plenty of other channels I don't want that I get (3-5)religious channels for example.
     
  13. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Don't most newer TV's have circuitry that mitigates this? I know my 5-year-old Panasonic 27" has some setting that normalizes sound across all channels. If I turn it off, I can notice the differences but with it on everything is the same.
     
  14. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Kwang, I beg to differ. No one is more perfectly placed than the carrier to communicate to the sources that this annoys the crap out of viewers, and they should do something about it.

    The cable industry is just an arrogant lazy cash-sucking monopoly. A former Canadian magnate referred to such monopolies as having a licence to print money.

    Actually, I question the cost of the cabling infrastructure being a huge impediment to lower prices - at the (expensive) cable rates, how long before this is recovered? And at that point, after regulatory reforms, the infrastructure could be accessed by competing suppliers, as happened to the telephone industry? It would be interesting to hear some facts on that.

    Its just a few years ago that Canadians were up-in-arms about the nefarious negative-optioning practice of the cable industry : We're giving you more channels, rearranging the content of the tiers, and raising prices. Like it or lump it! The industry drew back slightly, but the tendency to arrogance is inevitable with monopolies.

    The only thing more unreasonably expensive than cable is the cost of high-speed internet.

    PS Malcolm, I'm not aware of any such "normalization setting on my Sony (about 5 years old too), but I'll look. Would it work for ridiculously loud commercials too?
     
  15. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    I cannot stand that on Direct(& on dish also) their are like 4-8 spanish language channels(half are locals). >>:>

    Heh, I don't speak Spanish, but i find it fun to watch some of these channels on occasion, as they seem to have such interesting programing. Heh, one show that you don't need to understand is the Spanish version of Americas Funniest home Videos that I'll watch on occasion if I see it [​IMG].

    If they had subtitles for these stations, I wonder how many people would complain a bout 'em...
     
  16. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Make no mistake, cable companies are in the catbird seat. Their only current competitor, satellite, cannot offer equivalent service without introducing a number of limiting factors (hardware purchases, self installation efforts, technology limitations, weather effects, lack of a credible broadband data offering). Their network buildout is ridiculously expensive, but the lack of direct competition ensures long customer lifetimes that are the key to paying it back. And the unbelievable lack of regulation ensures that they can follow any practices they like. As an example, when an overbuild company like Everest comes in, the local cable company will offer services at a loss to just those customers that Everest can reach. They don't offer this package to non-Everest reachable customers, but just make it so they have no way to build a foothold. A telecommunications company could never do that.
     
  17. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    No one mentions this for some reason but in the 80s cable in my part of the country had NO commercials of any kind--this was one of the biggest attractions of cable.

    Then they started sneaking commercials into their service but I don't remember the rates going down.

    Weren't the cable companies deregulated sometime in the early 90s? Is this possibly when the commercials started showing up?

    The only cable channels I regularly watch are the History Channel, CNN, Turner Classic Movies, Sci-Fi Channel (this is getting less & less though), and Comedy Central. Discovery & TLC are now basically worthless for anything about science--I actually see more about science on the History Channel! The Weather Channel is still useful and they have some cool specials & real-life stories on weather that keep me watching.

    And don't get me started on cable's many-times lousy picture and audio quality. My friend has a little lakehouse outside the city limits and can only use a roof-mounted antenna--I couldn't believe how clear the picture was and how rich the colors were on his 27" Toshiba compared to what we see at home on cable.

    Maybe it's just me but nowadays I shudder whenever I hear of a company that serves the public being deregulated under the reasoning of "healthy competition" because the public seems to get shafted nearly every time.

    Here's an example that North Dakotans will be familiar with: "Clear Channel Monopoly Draws Criticism" (scroll down five paragraphs). Scary.

    LJ
     
  18. aldamon

    aldamon Second Unit

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    I watch MAYBE 20 out of the 150+ channels I receive, but I have to buy the digital tier to get the HD channels. I find it very hard to believe that an a la carte system would be more expensive in my case. The channels I actually watch would have to be 7.5 times more expensive to make up the difference. Even if my bill only went down $5 - 10, it would still be worth it to me.
     
  19. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    It's not a matter of policy. It's a technical issue.
     
  20. Jeff*S*C*

    Jeff*S*C* Second Unit

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