And the cable providers wonder why things like BitTorrent, Hulu, Netflix and the rest are so popular.

Love grousing about cable TV? Then I’ve got a list for you. It comes from industry analyst SNL Kagan, and I came across it via a research note Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente sent out last week. DiClemente was arguing that the bundled approach to cable TV–whereby subscribers get dozens or even hundreds of channels for one big fee, no matter how many networks they actually watch–wasn’t going anywhere for quite some time. If ever.

But if you’re the kind of person who thinks we’re headed for an a la carte model in which programmers compete directly for consumer dollars, you can use this as fodder for your argument. Because you can see just how much you’re paying for stuff you don’t want.

[Click here to view the chart]

Obviously these are wholesale prices, not retail. But this gives you a very good idea of where the money goes–to a lot of channels you likely never, ever, look at.

You’ll find this particularly upsetting if you don’t watch sports. Because sports channels account for about 40 percent of cable fees.

And you’ll also be upset once you realize that the broadcast networks–GE’s (GE) NBC, News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox, Disney’s (DIS) ABC and CBS (CBS)–are going to get added to this list over the next year or so. Even though anyone who doesn’t pay for cable gets them for free.




  1. GF says:

    175 channels = $35 wholesale. It must cost a fortune to operate a local cable company because I’m not getting 175 channels for $60. Thank goodness the municipalities gave them all that free right of way or my cable bill would be in the hundreds. 8-|

  2. Sea Lawyer says:

    You are aware that by granting easements for infrastructure like cable lines, it eliminates the need for the cable company to negotiate with every single property owner along the route for use of their land, in which case, nobody would have cable service due to prohibitively high transactions costs.

    People seem to think that granting right of way to these companies is only doing the companies a favor, for which they owe us something…

  3. fulanoche says:

    #1, #5, etal

    If you have internet cable, you more than likely have cable tv. Get a splitter and pay what it’s worth—-zilch.

  4. Travis says:

    I guess I’ve adapted to the current business model. I look at it as paying for bulk channels. My Tivo is configured so that channels I don’t watch are not in my lineup. What I would like to see is more content without commercials. The quality of show that HBO or Shotime produce is so much higher then the broadcast networks.

    @Guyver this is why SyFy shows wrestling

    http://charlierose.com/view/interview/10725

    CHARLIE ROSE: Where is WWE?

    BONNIE HAMMER: It does amazingly well. It hits over five and six
    million viewers every single Monday night. It is consistent, it’s DVR
    proof, it’s alive and well. And we just upped it again for another four
    years.

  5. Pinkerton says:

    I would gladly drop my cable TV if I could buy into the BBC license subscription fee (I’m American). £11.63 / month is what the Brits pay. The iPlayer system is fantastic, but currently blocks any IP outside of the UK. I’m not keen on circumventing their system.

    As it is, BBC America doesn’t cut it, and it’s on a premium digital tier that costs too much. The only other option is to download content illegally.

  6. Father says:

    Sea Lawyer,

    While I can’t refute your point, how can it be that the government grants the use of Citizens’ property to a commercial operation that makes profit selling entertainment?

    What if the cable was 10 feet in diameter, and required to be a hight of 3 feet above the surface?

    Entertainment I say!

  7. Father says:

    Oh, I’ve been cable TV and HSI free for 2-3 years at home.

    I can only watch ONE CHANNEL AT A TIME, for a few hours a day, so I’m not interested in paying for 60 channels 24hr/day.

    To me, a la carte means I would pay only for episodes (!) of which I would be interested.

  8. chris says:

    #30

    Blu Ray is toast. The new discs come as dual blu-ray/dvd packs. DVD just does its job too well.

    If you want super high def video you’d get it over the internet, because the computer is already capable of MUCH higher resolution.

    Save your cash and sell SONY stock. They’ve sunk too much cash into some marginal tech.

  9. Eric says:

    #31 – GF

    It’s true that the cable companies don’t pay for access to the right of way. However most municipalities get a tax called the franchise fee that grants a limited right to do business in a town. As I understand it, the courts have struck down any exclusivity clauses in these franchise agreements, so anyone who is willing to negotiate with a municipality is able to have access to the right of way.

    The incumbent player is going to do everything in their power to keep overbuilders out, but legally there’s nothing they can do.

    One of the interesting things about the Google fiber proposal is that they don’t want any hassles from the local government. Seems one of the reasons they couldn’t get anything done in San Fransisco with their free WiFi project was because they kept getting shut down and bogged down with the city complaining about everything.

  10. OvenMaster says:

    What amazes me is people who actually shell out $50, $60, $90 a month for cable TV and then watch nothing but local channels that they could get off the air for FREE.

    Another strange thing is the fact that my local Blockbuster is always packed full of people looking for movies… and my town has a cable saturation rate of >95%.

    What a waste of money.

    I’ve never paid for American TV and never will. ROOFTOP ANTENNA, BABY!!

  11. ArianeB says:

    People don’t want a la carte channels, they want a la carte TV SHOWS.

    I have a computer with WMC and a TV card (free DVR service), an XBOX360 with Media Extender, PlayOn and Netflix, and an Apple TV box. I have no cable or any other pay TV service. Combining what I pay for Netflix and iTunes, its around $30 a month.

    So for a third of the price of cable, I can watch what I want, when I want, and mostly commercial free.

  12. ECA says:

    iF YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT..
    Cable could run 1 line to each town, and just AIR broadcast to the 10 miles around it, ALL the channels they wanted.
    BUT, then they wouldnt get money.

    Its cheap and simple, but they wouldnt do it.

  13. chris says:

    #42 That is just too much like right!

  14. lens42 says:

    Normally I wouldn’t post just to echo what’s already been said, but in this case another vote is order. I too do not get cable. The combination of over the air, plus Netflix, plus other web content is all we need. So “a la Carte” *IS* here today. The first step in getting it is to fire your cable company. You’ll never regret it.