There is a revolution taking place in the way people access and consume media. But the cable companies don’t seem to have noticed. Instead of adopting more consumer-friendly policies and practices, they are digging-in with more of the same behavior – bundled packages at extortionate rates– that has cost them millions of subscribers. They might be able to save themselves from utter destruction if they would just give consumers what they really want: choice.
1. We Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Content We Don’t Consume
In an era when consumers are used to purchasing their entertainment on an a-la-carte basis, bundled cable no longer makes any sense. You no longer have to buy an entire album to hear the one or two tracks you like; why should you have to pay for a bundle of cable channels in order to enjoy the content on only a handful of stations?
Better yet, why should a single male sports fan have to pay for the content on WE or OWN if he’s never going to watch it? Or an elderly couple have to pay for MTV? Or a childless woman just out of college have to pay for Disney Jr.?
Regardless of the relative merit of the content these channels provide, it just doesn’t make sense to ask consumers to pay for content they’re never going to watch.
2. Save Money
The average cable customer in the US is already paying a monthly cable bill of $84 and faces an average annual price hike of 5%. In five years, the average cable customer will be paying nearly $100 per month. The rate of increase for cable services far outpaces the rate of inflation. Bloomberg just reported that cable companies are raising cable subscription prices again in 2016. Who can justify spending that kind of money for TV, when there are so many options now available that give you greater control over content and a substantially lower cost?
A Netflix or Hulu subscription starts at $7.99/month. Apple TV and Amazon Prime also have affordable programming on an a la carte basis. Even if you pay for all four, you still end up spending less each month than you would with a cable subscription.
3. Protect Children from Harmful Media Messages
With dwindling options for families on the major broadcast networks, many families find themselves forced into the cable bundle as their only hope for finding age-appropriate content for their children. Unfortunately, because the channels are bundled, they can’t just purchase and pay for Nick Jr. and Disney Jr. and be done with it. They also have to pay for many channels that make the job of protecting their children from harmful content harder than it needs to be. It only takes a fraction of a second for a child to innocently press some buttons on a remote control and be witness to graphic sex and violence on an adjoining cable network.
Unbundling channels would give parents greater control over the content coming into their homes and reduce the risk of their child being exposed to inappropriate content.
4. Cable Is a Dying Industry
A piece in the LA Times last week documented the growing trend of cord-cutting. An estimated 15% of American adults are considered “cord-cutters” and their ranks are growing. An additional 9% of younger adults have never subscribed to a satellite or cable service.
According to the L.A. Times, “There are more than 100 Internet video services operating in the U.S., with at least 40% launching during the last two years.”
The only way the cable industry can survive in this marketplace in the long-run is by unbundling and giving consumers greater freedom to customize their packages.