I've Been Paying for HGTV? Really?

In the New Yorker, James Surowiecki explains why it’s not just cable providers who like the current cable-TV system that bundles channels: “The appeal of bundling is partly that it reduces transaction costs; instead of having to figure out how much each part of a package is worth to you, you can make a blanket judgment.” Public disputes in the cable-TV world, however, such as those recently waged by Fox and Time Warner Cable, could spell the end of channel bundling, as consumers might start to reevaluate their bundles. “When HGTV says it wants more money for its programming,” Surowiecki writes, “it makes people who don’t watch HGTV wonder why they should pay anything for it at all.” [%comments]


Derek

I look forward to a non-bundled cable TV world, not so I could dump a harmless channel HGTV but to jettison really useless channels like the home shopping network, MTV, EWTN and CBN (good bye & good riddance, Pat Robertson), and the most useless network of all-- Faux News.

Tom from Wisconsin

If you like the New Year's Day Rose Bowl Parade, then HGTV is for you! Its pretty much the only thing I watch on that channel all year, and that one broadcast pays for it. They do SUCH a better job than anyone else! Less idiotic chatter, fewer commercials (which tend to be 10 or 15 second sound bites rather than pulling you away from the parade), and they set up at the beginning when all the bands start playing.

Now, as to the bundling, I don't mind it. Sure, I get some channels I don't watch very much, but every now and then you come across something of interest in them when paging through the guide. I would not mind seeing better parsing of the bundling packages, though. Like Derek I would dump the religion channels and home shopping networks which really do get zero watch time from me. In fact, I would dump them if I didn't save even a penny. But Fox News? Hey, you need some humor on the air, don't you?

Read more...

Mike

I can't wait for non-bundled cable. What I really can't wait for is these channels selling their feeds online. It seems so easy and obvious. You could even do it through Hulu or a similar set-up.

J. Daniel Smith

With digital cable, there's no technical reason that providers couldn't offer a host of pre-paid and/or post-paid (based on what you actually watched) plans. Say $3/month/channel or 50?/hour.

Jeff

No kidding! When I read I was "paying" 50 cents for FOX News -- a channel you couldn't pay ME to watch -- I couldn't help but ask why I couldn't take that money and get my Food Network back.

tommystinson

I don't have cable tv, I watch stuff online and movies through netflix. Television with shows created for the lowest common denominator with 20 minutes of commercials per hour of programming is a complete waste of time.

Jim

I'm on Cablevision. We currently lost FoodNetwork and HGTV because of a price dispute with Scripps and Cablevision. I wonder if we're getting a discount, because the programming is no longer available.

I doubt it.

Ira

I'm actually an HGTV addict, and I watch a lot of Discovery shows and HBO, but no football or sitcoms. Bring on the a la carte pricing plans, and I'll be happy to pay 5x more per channel... for the 5 or so I actually watch.

Ann

With all the recent news about cable costs, I just "realized" that I'm paying $85/month for a fairly basic package of HD channels + HBO, even though I only watch about an hour of TV a day. I've decided to experiment with an antenna and a $9 Netflix membership. I wonder how many are doing the same?

M.B.

#5 That's what is wrong with oligopical bundaling. I pay $60/month and all I watch is Fox News, fair and ballanced.

Tonya

#9 - We're considering it! I've tasked my husband with figuring out how we can watch our shows through the internet on our laptop (neither of us is technologically savvy - any advice here is appreciated!) so we can finally get rid of cable.
Everything we watch always comes out of the DVR. I would be more than willing to pay only by the channel, or even by the show, since we watch such a limited number of shows.

The one downside of DVR-ing everything is we have no idea about the new movies coming out. We obviously fast forward through commercials, so we never see previews.

I wonder if the movie industry has been hurt by others like myself who are unaware of their new, big releases?

Jesse

I recently canceled my cable. I purchased a TiVo, a $25 antenna, and a NetFlix subscription. My monthly cost dropped by around $50. I only watched a couple channels and most of them are available in HD over the air. If the networks made more content available streaming online, I would gladly buy them on a one off basis.

Obijan

Do this exercise:
- Write down exactly how much you pay for "cable content"
- Write down which shows you really want to watch
- See how many episodes that makes, on average, per month.
- Calculate the price of all those, paying full price on itunes. (Most expensive shop out there).

And you still come out cheaper. Note that this is for shows that you can watch, any time, on demand, commercial free.

This also doesnt even count the various free options, Hulu, Youtube, other sites.

#11 :
Don't worry. You will _hear_ if any new, good movie comes out.

Chris S

Do this exercise:
...
And you still come out cheaper.

Maybe. It depends on how much you watch. With most iTunes TV episodes running $2, my wife and I would hit the breakeven point at 30 episodes per month.

Now - I don't know if we reach that in *planned* viewing, but if you add in the unplanned viewing of all four people in the famuily - and note that many shows are cable only, not over the air - I expect that I would still be better on cable.

As for everyone wishing for a la carte pricing? Read the linked article! He does a superb job of laying out why you would likely pay *more* for a la carte offerings - not to mention that some channels that may be bundled now might lose enough revenue that they disappear altogether.

With bundling, you might be paying for channels you never watch. But you aren't paying for a massive tracking and billing system that you would never watch at all.

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Dai Hao

The Netflix/Hulu combo works great. Almost all of the tv we want to watch is available through that.

In the times where we have watched broadcast shows or gone to someone's house to watch, we were distracted by the commercials. We have been spoiled on having one or no commercials.

Tim

Chalk me down as a non-cable subscriber. I'm 25, living in my first home, and refuse to spend $80 a month on something I don't need, rarely use, and would only contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.

Another reason I don't own cable is that I'm scared to death of becoming one of those people who are overweight and come home from work only watch a few hours of tv, go to sleep, and do it all over again. I'd much rather do something productive. Currently I'm getting back into running and trying to learn Italian. MUCH more gratifying than TV. Also, I HATE monthly fees, especially on something I'll never own. Running is free, and Rosetta Stone is something I own, which effectively has cost only $17 a month, and getting less by the day!

Noadi

I don't have cable either. If cable companies offered more tailored packages then I might. For example say they had an educational package that included Discovery, National Geographic, Science Channel, etc. while leaving out say MTV, and the sports channels. It would give people more choices while still bundling channels in a way that is good for the companies and customers. I'd consider that. However they don't do this so it's not worth it for me, I use Netflix and Hulu.

Ryan

"I've been paying for TV?" A much better title for this article. I can't knock TV completely, but there are not many incentives for watching TV. News? Read it. Entertainment? Create it yourself. Tired? Ok, but in moderate doses. I agree with Tim here. Get out and be productive and creative. Don't allow the world to be your creativity. The best TV is experience. For times when watching TV, I either watch it online or DVR it to skip commercials.

Ian

Ordering individual channels is technically no more difficult or inherently expensive than ordering anything else on the web. Computerized systems do all the work - you get billed for individually priced long distance calls; why would an individual channel or programs (which are also just digital files) be any more difficult to bill? The cable companies assume that you will watch more of what you have already been forced to pay for in full. This is the logic of the all-you-can eat buffet - customers eat more than they want, need, or should because they have already paid for it.

Harriet

I called Cablevision yesterday to ask for a credit for HGTV and Food Network. I explained it's been 21 days and since Cablevision isn't paying Scripps, perhaps they might like to pass that savings onto their customers. I was told they couldn't do that and they were working had to get those channels back. I told him, keep the channels I'm no longer interested.

I asked how to get rid of the stations and was told I'd have to go down to basic cable.

Unbelievable