À la carte cable TV could cost consumers more

“I argue that, in some fashion, consumers will be able to purchase a basic bundle from TWC/CMCSA and proceed to complement/supplement it with individual options,” Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet. “It should come as no surprise that readers have responded with a resounding Marv Albert-style ‘YESSSS!’ to my speculation.”

“There’s probably nothing more popular than the notion of a la carte pricing from cable (or satellite). In fact, there’s so much consensus that a la carte is righteous and cable companies are evil for not providing it that you really can’t be against it,” Pendola writes. “Being against a la carte pricing is akin to being for cancer or child abuse.”

“Apple offers a la carte. Amazon offers a la carte. That’s what we want. Apple, for instance, doesn’t make you buy a package of core apps or something of the sort. It’s choose what you use. And, while it makes perfect sense for the circumstances, it’s not like it’s all that sexy,” Pendola writes. “I expect a similar dynamic to unfold if we ever see a la carte pricing from cable. However, it won’t end quite the same way, primarily because you’ll get a bill every month itemizing your expenses. It doesn’t happen quite that way when you buy stuff from Apple (or Amazon). You pay and receive a receipt as you go, which means there’s different psychology at play. But with cable… it could prove to be a rude awakening for plenty of subscribers.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Write a list of the programs you watch and if you’re like me, the number is quite small. Therefore simply buying the episodes may be less expensive than the cable bill.
    Of course you also have to add up the internet access fee, the sporting events you want to watch.

    1. I agree. I only watch a few things. I don’t have time for the rest. I would rather by a whole season once than pay $100+ a month. Besides, for those of us who really are couch potatoes, I am sure the cable companies will still offer package deals. Apple allows you to download one song at a time, or you get a discount for buying the whole album. Nothing changes other than we have greater choice.

    2. The potential cost saving is one aspect and I also hope that this way I am not supporting every type of programming the content providers dream up in the existing bundled channel A la cart model.

      Quite frankly, I would be happy to get channel A la Cart versus program/episode model by the likes of Apple/Amazon, etc…

      I use the favorite channels setup in my DVR so I only see 11 channels out of 100s.

    3. As long as TWC, Verizon or AT&T are behind this, we’ll never pay less than what we’re paying now. You all witnessed how the aforementioned just shut down net neutrality, right?

    4. unless you only watch like one show, buying a la carte from itunes is too expensive

      $50 – $60 for cable internet
      $120 for internet and TV
      $30 or so per season on itunes for a lot of shows

      might as well just get the whole cable deal

          1. I have the “Triple Play” including phone (which I don’t use, but it actually brings my bill down due to the “special” I got), with equipment rental and a premium channels package. Honestly I think I would be better off à la carte, but I’m locked in for a few more months at least. Still, my internet is rocket-fast, so I don’t complain too much.

        1. for now i have a one year special bundle for $130 that is tv, 20/2 internet, hbo and a DVR

          next year i will dump the dvr and HBO except for the few months when game of thrones is on and plan to pay around $130 for regular TV with 300 or whatever channels and internet will be 50/5 by then since time warner is rewiring NYC right now.

          if i need to, i will also buy my own modem and get a cable card to save the $13 in equipment rentals per month

          once comcast buys time warner it will actually be better for me since time warner doesn’t have streaming rights to most cable sub content now

      1. We dropped TV service from our U-Verse account and, with the equipment fees, etc. we were paying, we dropped $100 off of our bill per month. $1,200.00 per year can buy a lot of season subscriptions from iTunes.

      2. I pay $60 per month for internet only, $7.99 for Netflix, $7.99 for Hulu, and occasionally rent movies off of iTunes. I also download lots of free news podcasts to get my news. That is all I have time for. Total cost about $75 for unlimited internet and all the TV I want to watch. Occasionally I rent movies about 1 or 2 per month, so add about $10, and I watch everything I have time for never spending more than $85 !

        1. OTA is only football and some baseball. no NBA
          ESPN is only sports news and very little real sports games
          the MLB and NBA streaming on the apple tv blacks out local games. even then it’s like $350 per year plus VPN fees if you want local games so you might as well get regular cable

    1. It shouldn’t be “will” be more. It should be “could” be more.

      $15/month (more in a large metro with more channels) for a basic Over-The-Air package that includes local government and public access stations.

      Add $5/month/channel for basic cable channels

      Add $10/month/channel for singular sports channel (ESPN, no ESPN2) or a singular movie channel (HBOE1, no inDemand).

      Add $20/month/channel for a premium movie group (HBOE1, HBOW1, HBOE2, HBOW2, HBO inDemand, HBO Go, etc) or a network group like Disney (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, Disney, DisneyJr, ABC Family) or Fox (FoxNews, FoxBusiness, FX, FX2, FoxSportsChannel, FSNSouthwest, etc). Obviously these would go down if I were buying packages.

      If I get my OTAs and only watch, say, CNN: Then I pay $25 and am getting it for less than the current just under $35 I pay for a basic cable package.

  2. I’m already doing À la carte – a little over a year ago I put up antenna and started buying “cable series” via iTunes, Blu Ray compilations and watching the free stuff on Amazon Prime*. I saved over $1400 in the first year.


    As always, YMMV.

    *I don’t count the price for Amazon Prime as the free shipping more than offsets the subscription price. If I counted that my savings would have been over $1300.

    1. Same here. I’m easily saving over $100 per month while using A la carte (i.e amazon.com) to augment over-the-air TV and Netflix.

      Do not forget that your cable bill is the *minimum* that you pay. There are pay-per-view shows on top of that. My $180 per month cable bill was, realistically, over $200 per month after adding on the extra shows that my family watched.

      So, you are getting some level of a la carte now but not what you want.

      1. I can a DVR over the air network shows, watch Amazon or Netflix. The shows that I buy on iTunes are only cable shows. Plus I only used iTunes gift cards bought for at least 15% off. Last one was $75 for a $100 card. This brings the total cost way down.

  3. If I had to buy everything off of Apple that our household watch through SKY TV it would cost a fortune. With Amazon and Netflix creating original material, if you wanted them and paid for each it really begins to add up quickly. We pay about £80 a month for three boxes, HD, Sports, Movies, etc. Not that I could get the Sport elsewhere and when my broadband contract ends, I will have to pay for BT Sport (which means I will go without), but watching 3-4 movies a week alone through Apple TV (or other) would come close to what I’m paying and that’s without all the other content factored in.

  4. I’m fine with paying more if the money goes to creating the types of programs I enjoy watching, and I’m no longer subsidizing useless crap like Lifetime and Fox News.

  5. Those with the gold make the rules. They whoever that is, are going to get our money every month somehow. It is not going to be cheaper going forward to get the same amount of content that we get today. It may go to a different provider but it won’t be cheaper.

    1. But your cable company doesn’t own the content (in most cases). Consequently, all that is needed is somebody that can deliver the content to you for less cost. That is not all that hard — especially given the outrageously high prices that the cable companies are charging to do this today.

      The cable companies have abused their monopoly but their position is eroding daily. It is just a matter of time before the prices become more reasonable.

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