A la carte TV a tough sell on the Hill

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) Television Consumer Freedom Act bill, which would give consumers the option to buy channels on an a la carte basis instead of in tiers, got its first airing before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday but it didn’t find a lot of takers.

Aereo: Skinny live, deep library

Aereo has no plans to start recreating the full pay-TV bundle by layering on channels that predominantly carry programming for which live access adds little value.

Patching the cord

In just the past few weeks, Barry Diller-backed Aereo launched a subscriptions streaming service in New York City, Cisco bought NDS for $5 billion, word leaked of Intel’s plans to create a nationwide virtual cable TV service and Netflix began chatting up cable operators about addings its channel to their old-fashion, through-the-cord TV subscription services. While varied in their particulars, what all those moves represent is a big-money bets on the future of bundled TV subscriptions, and at least a tacit acknowledgment of the limits of a la carte distribution.

Do Consumers Really Want to Pay for Media?

The music industry has made quite a stir about piracy and downloads. Pay TV providers have fought to protect their service bundles in the face of a la carte proposals. And Apple has built a nice business with iTunes. But how much are consumers really willing to pay for media?
Packaging is critical to the way media is sold, and it takes various forms, many of which are “bundles” of media products. For example, if the purest form of recorded music is the individual song, then an album is a bundle of songs marketed and sold together. The movie industry relies on a bundle that includes theatrical release, DVD distribution and then syndication on television — the movie bundle is enforced with time “windows” that take advantage of the time value of media. Most people want to see movies when other people are talking about them, and waiting a year for the DVD release simply isn’t acceptable.
And then there’s pay TV, a business built on bundles — and bundles of bundles. Consumers think of watching individual television shows, but TV programs are bundled together into something we call “channels” which are then bundled together into “packages” for which we pay on a monthly basis. Read More about Do Consumers Really Want to Pay for Media?