The arguments have been out there for a long time – consumers should not have cable channels thrust upon them whether they want them or not, but at the same time, a la carte menus would be more expensive than one might think. American Cable Association Vice Chair Robert Gessner has a compromise: a la bundle.
Gessner cited comments made by execs from Disney/ESPN and Comcast/NBCU. In particular, he mentioned a remark from Comcast’s Brian Roberts, who said cable menus are like the New York Times – you may only want to read one section, but you still have to buy the entire newspaper.
Gessner agreed with that analogy to a point. But he pointed out that bundled cable content from Disney and Comcast is similar in many respects.
He said it’s one thing for Disney and Comcast to hitchhike a number of their weaker offerings onto their strong channels.
But forcing a consumer to get a bundle of channels from each is where the newspaper analogy falls apart.
If getting Comcast is like getting NYT, with all sections included, then getting Disney fare is like getting the Washington Post, all sections included.
Getting both is asking consumers to buy both newspapers, regardless of their similarities, whether they want them or not, because the option is to not get either.
So, instead of a pure a la carte menu for consumers, Gessner is suggesting consumers be allowed to select bundles from various programmers. Comcast and Disney would be able to include what they want and price as they wish, with the decision to buy resting with the consumer.
Gessner concluded, “So, let’s stop talking about a la carte. Instead, let’s talk about a la bundle before consumers do take a hike.”
Gessner is CEO of MCTV, based in Massillon OH.