The momentum for cutting the cord and getting rid of cable once and for all is really picking up speed, but there are still plenty of people out there hesitant make the switch, and not just for fear of missing out on favorite programming—though most of it can be viewed elsewhere, for a fraction of the cost, if not for free. But some are holding out on the hopes that cable providers might start to offer an alternative to the larger packages: a la carte cable options. This feature would allow consumers to pick and choose which channels to subscribe to, paying a per channel rate. (Remember, the average American watches just nine percent of the channels available to them.)
But would an a la carte cable package actually save you money? At the end of the day, it just may end up costing you more.
One report from the L.A. Times suggests that the prices could increase because media companies will have to compensate for loss in revenue. That loss would be attributed to compensation being delivered on a per subscription basis, rather than a total cable customer subscription basis. The report theorizes that roughly 56 channels would survive the transition to a la carte and that of those, the ones on the lower end of the totem pole, in terms of numbers of subscribers, would have to double or increase their fee just to stay in business.
And don’t forget: everyone in a typical household has different tastes, so stack up all the various types of channels you’d need to accommodate everyone, and you’re very well looking at a bill the same as you were paying before, if not more.
Another report by The Street puts it into perspective by comparing it to services that already exist, which most of us can relate to. Both Apple and Amazon.com Instant Videos are a la carte viewing services. The perception of affordability is what could be the thing that gets consumers each time. Much like you’d do on one of the two aforementioned services, when selecting cable channels to subscribe to, you might think, “Oh, well that’s just $1.99; that’s not so bad!” Repeat that a handful of times and it starts to add up.
Of course, with services like Apple and Amazon.com Instant Videos, your credit card is pinged as you order, rather than being sent a monthly bill. So at least with a la carte cable, the total monthly cost will be more in your face.
So there you have it. In theory, a la carte television sounds like a good idea, but at the end of the day, the tried and true money-saver is to just cut the cord altogether.