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Senator John McCain will introduce legislation shortly to overhaul the TV business by giving...

Senator John McCain will introduce legislation shortly to overhaul the TV business by giving consumers the option to buy channels on an individual basis (a la carte) - instead of seeing only large bundles as options. The politician will face fierce resistance from broadcast (NWS, DIS, CMCSA, CBS, AMCX, SNI, OUTD, DISCA, VIAB) and cable companies (CVC, CHTR, TWC) but may have a friend in upstart Aereo which has been rankling a few feathers as well. (Aereo timeline)
Comments (28)
  • Finally!!


    Bravo senator.


    Enough with paying for 100 channels where 90 of them are utterly useless. Yes, we all need 30 different MTV channels...LOL.
    9 May 2013, 08:09 AM Reply Like
  • This would be the death knell for MSNBC and maybe a few other Liberal news networks. True journalism disappeared a long time ago.
    9 May 2013, 08:27 AM Reply Like
  • Your overall bill will be higher.


    Another RINO messing with the free market. More regulations.
    9 May 2013, 08:29 AM Reply Like
  • A true free market environment would not require me to subsidize poorly performing network programming.


    First and foremost would be my desire to get rid of any news stations which rely on sensationalism rather than journalism to draw in viewers. I’d also love the ability to get rid of the half-dozen channels showing me jewelry to purchase, the (un)reality programming, all the music channels, and quite a few other stations. I suspect the quantity would drop but the quality would increase dramatically if networks actually had to EARN income rather than be subsidized by the few channels that have decent programming.
    9 May 2013, 08:49 AM Reply Like
  • if the quantity drops, and if the monthly predicatable subsription and associated advertising revenue drops, the cost per program or the cost per channel will need to grow


    that will result in price per program/channel multiple times today's price...its expensive to implement from the cables so they will pass that through as are subsidizing them...if that model breaks down, the stuff you really want to watch will go way up in price and may not even get made at all!!


    think $20/month for ESPN...or $20 for streaming your favorite tv show...many people will say that's what they want, but its an emotional will get much less for your money
    i'm sure some people would be ok with having 5 channels for $75 bucks instead of 500+ for $120...not me


    as a possible example, look to prices for boxing or wrestling matches to figure out how much the olympics, the super bowl or world series would cost to watch in ala carte world..


    this will stifle innovation in programming and result in lots more cheaply made reality type tv...its hugely risky to make programming...more fail than succeed...its easy to think only quality stuff will get made..the opposite is true...programmers will take less risk...high quaility low ratings stuff will not get made..half the channels will go out of business...Top of the Lake would have never been made...Rectify would never have been made..


    if a program generates ala carte cash flow, it will be copied over and over...nothing new will be tried because there is no predicatable cash flow to subsidize it..


    btw....this has been a political football since the 80's....and in today's programming world the streaming business complicates everything....


    i would not bet on this happening or getting watered down so much it doesnt matter..
    9 May 2013, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • The government telling what a corporation can and can not do with their products is not a free market.
    9 May 2013, 09:47 AM Reply Like
  • What bill? Like I'd pay for cable TV at current prices? There are a few channels I would pay for. If they can't price 'em way cheaper than the bundles, then I still wont.
    9 May 2013, 10:05 AM Reply Like
  • I disagree, what will happen is the most relevant content will price between $4.95-$14.95/month. And a lot of other companies would crumble because they don't have much other than a few shows. More efficient programming.


    Consolidation would need to occur rapidly as well. A company like Scripps Networks would be gobbled up to the highest bidder. ESPN is definitely premium and would be in the higher range, and Discovery with a significant global presence would be able to manage well too most likely.


    Discovery for example does less than $5 billion in annual revenue. Discovery claims to reach 300 million subscribers, if only 200 million paid $4.95/month for all of Discovery's content, that would be near $12 billion or twice as much revenue per year. Factor in an increasing shift of advertising dollars to digital video on top of that and companies like Discovery can be more financially successful with this model.


    If we consider global subscriber reach for premium content there is potentially more revenue to be made. ESPN has so many different programs, they would probably end up eliminating some and keeping the most profitable, currently they don't have to worry necessarily about appending lower rated programs because of the core program's leverage.


    A la carte is already here. We can use Netflix and Hulu to watch what we want, and I can get a package of NBA games in HD and real-time for $9.95/month and watch every home and away game (5 teams included and playoffs-if they make it).


    What is a key indicator to watch regardless of policy decisions is how major sports entities continue to evolve, namely the NBA, MLB, and NFL. Two of the three have HD real-time streaming. All of these major sports programs have contracts with Fox, CBS, ESPN, etc. If demand shifts to mobile platforms and streaming in a significant way, many networks will lose out. I think that this will have a domino effect.
    9 May 2013, 11:16 AM Reply Like
  • I see by the comments that the Tea Party Clown Posse has been given their orders by Fox News (NWS).
    9 May 2013, 08:48 AM Reply Like
  • "Your overall bill will be higher."


    jumpnjoey - Why would it be higher? If the bill was going ot be higher, why do you think these companies are fighting it? Right now I get tons of stations that I don't watch and watch a small fraction of them. I'm basically subsidizing them. There is no free market here. This is an oligopoly. No one else except the cable and phone company can run a wire to your house.
    9 May 2013, 08:50 AM Reply Like
  • They are fighting it because the cost to implement would be massive. Think about 20M customers with the ability to make changes on a whim every month. Say for example you want to watch a show on the 20th. You turn the channel on the 19th, then turn it off on the 21st. That is what is going to happen. That will drive up the prices for everyone else.
    9 May 2013, 09:53 AM Reply Like
  • They have these things called computers now which make it very simple to implement this.
    9 May 2013, 09:58 AM Reply Like
  • And who is going to pay for that and the associated costs that will be required to maintain, upgrade, service and help desk that?
    9 May 2013, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • JumpNJoey, just stop. I could put together a small team of programmers to have an automated system for doing finished in a few months. Total cost <$100K. The true cost in anything to do with the cable companies is maintaining their cash cow, not the technology.
    9 May 2013, 10:08 AM Reply Like
  • agreed Esekla,
    The notion that this would be 'expensive' is asinine compared to what the current system is costing everyone.


    There are already similar systems being used in other industries in which the cable companies could model after... most of the hard work is already done they just need to adapt.
    9 May 2013, 11:00 AM Reply Like
  • Drew, the great thing about what McCain is proposing is that you would have the ability to stop subsidizing Fox News. Surely you would not object to that would you?
    9 May 2013, 08:53 AM Reply Like
  • Frankly my biggest beef is with ESPN. $5+ per sub for mind numbingly repetitive sports coverage of teams I could care less about. I don't think the trans fees that FOX, MSNBC et al combined are that much. And for sure, it ain't no free market in cable.
    9 May 2013, 08:59 AM Reply Like
  • . . . because this subject is REALLY important, what else could our politicians concentrate on?
    9 May 2013, 09:11 AM Reply Like
  • Wow, you guys scream about getting the government out of the way and want the government in the way on how a corporation can market and distribute their own products to their own customers. The irony.
    9 May 2013, 10:07 AM Reply Like
  • When the public is being wronged it is the governments job to intervene jumpnjoey... I don't think you understand how the system is supposed to work...


    The cable industry isn't a free market and you know it... there is no choice you either buy 1000 channels from direct tv or 1000 channels from comcast... very little 'choice' involved.
    9 May 2013, 11:03 AM Reply Like
  • The problem is that the government has already inhibited distribution competition by failing to recognize that cables are the same as roads: if they travel over public land they shouldn't be owned.
    9 May 2013, 11:46 AM Reply Like
  • When the public is being wronged? Says who? Don't like it turn it off or find another way. What you and McCain don't realize is the contracts that are already in place. Listen you have options but people are willing to put up with it so until consumers leave or a company offers an ala carte this is a total joke and a waste of time.
    9 May 2013, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • All i want: To be charged for only the channels I watch, when I watch them.
    A set top box that understands this and then sends that info to the cable company is all that is needed.


    I am tired of paying absurd fees for basic cable where 90% of the programming in utterly useless.
    9 May 2013, 12:03 PM Reply Like
  • What's that about allowing free markets Senator McClain? Are you just regulating? Isn't this what the FCC should be looking into? Hypocrite.
    9 May 2013, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • John McCain would try to move mountains to keep the oil companies monopoly for transportation fuel intact. Let a successful media company develop a market without the tax breaks of oil companies and McCain cries foul.


    McCain wants to coddle and protect the start up company Aereo Inc. but he consistently votes to squelch and deny the fledgling Bio-fuels industry.


    John McCain has never made sense unless you follow the money.
    9 May 2013, 12:29 PM Reply Like
  • If channels become unbundled customers will end up paying the same amount of money but get less for it.


    What I really want it the ability to use whatever kind of set top box I want to access cable networks.
    9 May 2013, 01:15 PM Reply Like
  • Even if the average consumer ends up paying close to the same amount you get great benefits: 1) more competition 2) more personal choice guided by the market wants and not by what the networks wants. As a practical matter, just because you have a lot of channels doesn't mean you have a plethora of choices. You only have one, and that is the bundle you choose. It is a binary event. Unlike an a-la-carte model.


    jumpnjoey77 is misinformed. This gives the consumer more choice which is always a goal of free markets. Networks could still bundle if they so choose. Either way the consumer determines what they want.
    9 May 2013, 03:58 PM Reply Like
  • Agreed on all fronts hope it doesn't waste away in congress.
    9 May 2013, 04:00 PM Reply Like
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