A new subscriber option from Time Warner Cable called TV Essentials is being added to the menu. The idea is to offer a well-rounded selection of channels, numbering in the neighborhood of 50, which excludes the pricier offerings – all in exchange for a budget-friendly subscription rate.
The package would include broadcast affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, and also would have 12 of the top 20-rated basic cable channels.
However, it would exclude high-ticket channels like ESPN, TNT, Comedy Central, Fox News and MSNBC. ESPN alone is said to cost about $4 per subscriber per month.
In the news wars, CNN would be a major beneficiary, making the cut while its two chief rivals are left off.
According to the report, the package is said to have a monthly value of $49.99, but will be offered at a discount in test markets, including New York and selected portions of Ohio.
RBR-TVBR observation: If Time Warner wants to play hardball with program suppliers, this is the way to do it, rather than begging for government intervention. Basic cable programmers will have to think twice when setting carriage rates if consumers start to bite on packages like this. But it won’t settle any gripes at all between broadcast and cable, because must-carry assures broadcasters of a home on the menu.