Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hate Paying for Cable? Here’s Why.

Love grousing about cable TV? Then I’ve got a list for you. It comes from industry analyst SNL Kagan, and I came across it via a research note Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente sent out last week.

DiClemente was arguing that the bundled approach to cable TV–whereby subscribers get dozens or even hundreds of channels for one big fee, no matter how many networks they actually watch–wasn’t going anywhere for quite some time. If ever.

But if you’re the kind of person who thinks we’re headed for an a la carte model in which programmers compete directly for consumer dollars, you can use this as fodder for your argument. Because you can see just how much you’re paying for stuff you don’t want.

Take a look (click to enlarge–or drag the whole image off of the browser and onto your desktop if you want a better view):

Obviously these are wholesale prices, not retail. But this gives you a very good idea of where the money goes–to a lot of channels you likely never, ever, look at.

You’ll find this particularly upsetting if you don’t watch sports. Because sports channels account for about 40 percent of cable fees.

And you’ll also be upset once you realize that the broadcast networks–GE’s (GE) NBC, News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox, Disney’s (DIS) ABC and CBS (CBS)–are going to get added to this list over the next year or so. Even though anyone who doesn’t pay for cable gets them for free.

Hence, last winter’s Fox vs. Time Warner Cable (TWC) standoff, and the Disney vs. Cablevision (CVC) fight that ended in time for the Oscars last night.

As I’ve said before, I think that many cable viewers are probably okay with most of the bundle–or at least unwilling to foot the bill for real a la carte pricing. But maybe if you waved this list in front of them, they might rethink that.


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