It would be awesome to just pay for the TV we actually want


AMC alone would practically give me half of what I’d want.

The WSJ says we may be moving in that direction:

What happens when the “bundle” begins to unravel?

The question is taking on intense importance for the cable-TV business, which for decades has forced customers to subscribe to groups, or bundles, of channels—whether they wanted them or not.

Attacks on the bundle approach have escalated, most recently with Cablevision Systems Corp.’s lawsuit this week against Viacom Inc., accusing it of antitrust violations for forcing it to carry and pay for more than a dozen “lesser-watched” channels in order to offer the popular ones like Nickelodeon and MTV. Viacom disputes the allegation.

Now pay-TV executives—as well as its customers—are openly pondering a world where the bundle no longer reigns, even though such a scenario could be years away.

“People should be able to build what they want and get what they want,” said Bartees Cox, a spokesman for consumer group Public Knowledge.

“Without the ‘take it or leave it’ requirements of bundled programming packages at a wholesale level, cable companies could tailor smaller and lower-priced packages that could offer flexibility and have great appeal to specific interests and audiences,” said Charlie Schueler, spokesman for Cablevision…

… although the piece said that real “a la carte” TV probably won’t be here in the foreseeable future.

If it ever did come, what would you choose? Here’s my list of preferred channels:

  1. AMC — for “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Hell on Wheels”
  2. Turner Classic Movies
  3. NickJr — For when my grandchildren are at the house.
  4. Local broadcast channels (mainly for PBS)
  5. Showtime (but only when new episodes of “Homeland” are available)
  6. TBS, TNT — Sometimes for movies, but mostly for sitcom reruns, which are a good length for watching while working out on my elliptical trainer
  7. CSPAN — Although its just not the same these days, since I no longer get to see Tony Blair doing Question Time

That’s really about it. There’s another tier of channels I occasionally watch — FX, SciFi, BBC America, Comedy Central, and on rare occasions one of the sports channels. But I can do without them.

So basically, an even dozen channels would do it for me. No more than would have fit on an old VHF dial…

10 thoughts on “It would be awesome to just pay for the TV we actually want

  1. Lauren FitzHugh

    Please please please give me a la carte TV options. I’m not really a TV watcher, but I would certainly subscribe to a handful of channels if I could and it didn’t cost me a small fortune. Here’s my shortlist:
    1. local broadcast channels – I need PBS and news in my life
    2. CNN – again, the news
    3. CSPAN – nerd alert
    4. TV5 – les actualités
    5. BBC – again, news, but with an accent
    5. Food Network – I really enjoy Iron Chef; I don’t care if it’s a bit of a sham
    6. HBO – because why not and I hear “Girls” is quite good

  2. Silence

    Count me in for a’la carte TV. I’ll get Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, WB… oh wait….

    1. Steven Davis II

      If that’s what you want, it’s what I get already with an over the air antenna… plus a few other OTA channels. Monthly television bill – $0.00.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    I bought last season of Mad Men on Amazon, and am considering this season of Justified. Mostly I wait for Netflix to get them. I watch The Good Wife on and Parks and Rec and Community on Hulu. has Downton Abbey and other Masterpiece Theatre shows.

    We can’t pull in broadcast TV down in the Holler here, and I refuse to pay the exorbitant, extortionate cable charges!

    1. Bart


      You just went up several points with me although it would be difficult for you to rank much higher anyway. Justified – more than worth the price. I watch very few network series on a regular basis but I do look forward to Tuesday night at 10:00 to catch Justified. Well written, great actors, and as entertaining as television is meant to be.

      My only complaint is that they killed off the Mags character. She was terrific and the part very well written.

      If you haven’t watched any of the new season of Justified yet, you are in for a treat.

      My wife and I watch several of the British series on Netflix; Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost, and several others. Much higher level of acting and writing compared to some of the “stuff” on cable, Direct, or whatever one choses to purchase.

      1. Mrs. Stephen Fenner

        We have been enjoying the films Walton Goggins produced and acted in with Ray MacKinnon. They won the Oscar for short film with The Accountant, and tonight is the last night you can see That Evening Sun on Netflix watch instantly. Chrystal is also excellent. You get a lot of the same flavor as you do in Justified.

        I am drawing on Mags Bennett for my character in the upcoming Opera at USC, The Tender Land. The show runner said he hated to kill off Mags, but that her character had run her course. I am glad they did not kill off Boyd Crowder, though!

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Way to go, Bart! Now if I start watching “Justified,” I already know that the Mags character gets killed off!

    That’s OK. I sort of know what’s going to happen to characters on “House of Cards,” because I’ve seen the British version. And one of the characters I don’t think I’m going to mourn for much…

    1. Mrs. Stephen Fenner

      You could kind of guess she had to go….do watch it, Brad. It is excellent. Burl is also a huge fan!

    2. Bart

      Even with the advance knowledge Mags is killed off, at least I won’t tell you how she died. It is definitely worth watching the entire series. The first 3 seasons are on NetFlix.

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