• How Much Is ESPN Worth to You?

    by  • January 27, 2016 • Cable Choice • 5 Comments


    The exorbitant pricing of some cable networks reveals the need for Cable Choice.

    The premise of the PTC’s Cable Choice campaign is that viewers shouldn’t have to pay for channels they never watch, don’t want, and may even find offensive. But that’s exactly what happens with cable and satellite TV. Viewers pay for a “bundle” of hundreds of channels, and on average watch only about 17…with the result that subscribers pay close to $100 or more a month, largely for channels they do not care about.  

    There are several solutions. Some people do without cable entirely. Increasingly, others are “cutting the cord” and patching together their own “bundles” via Internet services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and others. And now, even some networks are beginning to offer their programming on a stand-alone basis; for example, HBO recently unveiled its “HBO Go” plan, whereby customers can purchase HBO alone and “a la carte,” without buying any other channels.

    The PTC is a huge proponent of “a la carte” pricing. While the entertainment industry likes to claim that, in an “a la carte” world, every channel would be so expensive as to be unaffordable, a recent peek behind the curtain by the media research firm MoffettNathanson reveals this is untrue – except in the case of sports networks.

    According to an article in Recode, in an a la carte world, sports network ESPN would take the biggest bite out of customers’ wallets, costing over $36 a month; but after that, prices rapidly drop. Purchased alone, Disney Channel would cost only $8.25 a month, a price many parents would willingly pay; the Discovery Channel would cost only $3.40; and relatively lower-demand networks like HGTV or Food Network would be about $1.50 each. And since the networks listed are the top 20 most popular channels, presumably, family-friendly networks like UP, INSP, RFD-TV, and the Hallmark Channel would cost even less.

    It is obvious: the time for a la carte unbundling is now…so that at long last, Americans can pay a reasonable price for only the TV they want.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    5 Responses to How Much Is ESPN Worth to You?

    1. Clifford Finch
      January 29, 2016 at 7:02 am

      I totally support ala carte pricing. And I believe we will get it as more and more buyers cut the cord and design their own packages.

    2. Ray Curtin
      January 29, 2016 at 6:59 am

      I would be interested if “a la carte” pricing ever becomes available.

    3. Vic Stevenart
      January 29, 2016 at 6:01 am

      I agree that we should have the chance to get cable “a la carte.” It is unfortunate that ESPN is so expensive because I do enjoy college sports and that station tends to cover the majority of the events. However, some other channels do carry those events, so I could even boycott ESPN since they have become somewhat political (i.e. liberal) in their presentations.
      Thanks for all you do to try to help.

    4. Lyn Wheeler
      January 29, 2016 at 5:31 am

      Please give us choices

    5. Charlie O'Rourke
      January 29, 2016 at 5:19 am

      If it is true that the ESPN Channel lineups are costing that much money then they should make them a choice customers can make like other premium channels.

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