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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


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Cory O'Connor

I have tried to embrace Gerry's a la carte argument for a year now and I just can't do it. Name another industry sector that forces its customers to buy a brand it doesn't want?

And why should I as a consumer be concerned about Oxygen's profit model, what you spend on marketing versus programming? Every company has to invest in marketing as a cost of doing business. If you can't be profitable without consumer subsidies, you don't belong in business. In the case of Oxygen, you had the wealthiest investors on the planet in Oprah Winfrey and Paul Allen. What a silly notion, Gerry, to argue that middle class American consumers must subsidize your start-up so you can make the richest of the rich even more rich.

Seriously, Gerry, where do you get off?

You also argue that consumers should subsidize your start-up for its good programming. Right. What good is there in The Bad Girls Club, Snapped, Janice Dickinson, or Campus Ladies? The New York Times dismissed your dreck as all about drunken "stupid sluts." I have zero interest in any...any...of Oxygen's programs, so why should I have to pay for the channel just to make Oxygen's extremely rich investors even more rich?

Finally, where do you draw the line? Using the Laybourne argument, every entrepreneur with an idea for a cable network is now entitled to distribution and consumer subsidies. To Laybourne's way of thinking a golfer must pay for The Tennis Channel, an atheist must pay for Trinity Broadcast Network, and the elderly must pay for Nickelodeon.

Hey! I've got an idea for a new channel. It's dedicated to the proposition that women are idiots in the same way Oxygen's premise is that men are dolts. By Gerry's argument, she and all her gal pals should be required to subsidize my "Women are Idiots Network."

But we all know that's nonsense, as is Gerry's self-serving a la carte argument, which enables Gerry and her filthy rich friends to get even richer on the backs of the working class.

Now that's the American way!

Tom French

Imagine going to a fast food restaurant to eat lunch and being told that your dinner was going to cost $100 because you had to support all the food producers out there so they could all stay in business when all you wanted was a hamburger!

Todd Hudgens

Unfortunately for the operators, the entire media model is shifting towards a la carte. The Internet is making this an inevitability, and if the operators would like to remain relevant, they should embrace these technologies, instead of attempting (and failing) to fight them.

I can now buy a single song off an album, or a single episode from a TV show. Media companies like Viacom are embracing internet streaming of their shows, because they realize that if they do not provide this content, it will be shared via the video-streaming websites or distributed downloads, and these distribution methods don't generate ad revenue. Furthering this movement of consumer choice are technologies like PVR which allow users to watch at their convenience (while skipping commercials). And like David said, a growing number of young people are dropping cable altogether and simply downloading the shows they want to watch.

Internet users don't just want ala carte, they've already grown to expect it. Programmers shouldn't worry about marketing their content. Good content spreads across the Internet very quickly, and viral marketing is free. Operators will need to embrace a la carte online video streaming of their content if they want to experience continued growth.

There's also no reason to assume that a la carte pricing models would be the end of bundling. If I wanted to pay $3 a month for CSPAN, what sense does it make to refuse my money?


I can see how “a la carte” could limit the number of commercials and revenue for channels and cable companies...commercials pay the light bill, salaries and so on. But, if ANY business floats on a "forced purchase" that can't be a good thing.

This is not about customers, it's more about media business structure.

David Crowell

A la carte may end up being more expensive for many TV viewers, but not for me.

I have Insight's broadband, but not cable TV. I have an outdoor antenna, and can pick up local HD broadcasts. I have a PC connected to my TV, and can purchase TV shows, and rent movies with iTunes.

This would be quite expensive if I watched 8 hours of TV a day, but I probably only watch 10 hours a month.

The point it, a la carte is here through online distribution. Traditional cable will be around for a long time, but as more content is available online, and more set-top boxes are available to allow purchase (independent of the cable company) more people will switch.

I assume most cable companies are planning for this eventuality.

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