For many years, there's been a pretty big debate over whether or not cable and satellite TV providers should offer "a la carte" options, where subscribers could just pick and choose the channels they want to subscribe to. At a first pass, many people think this would be great -- believing that it would save them money because they wouldn't be paying for all those channels they get but don't watch. However, this is short sighted. Studies have actually shown that in most cases a la carte offerings would end up costing more
There are a variety of reasons for this. First, the pay TV providers would need to revamp their systems to support this, including their marketing and customer service setup, which would almost definitely raise costs. Second, what the current bundles do is allow certain popular channels to subsidize other channels. When you switch to an a la carte system, many of those subsidies are lost, and it would likely drive up the prices for many channels, rather than the other way around. So, while some people think it sounds like a good idea, it probably would likely result in a higher cable bill for many people.
However, that won't stop the class action lawyers from getting in on the action. A new class action lawsuit has been filed against the major cable and satellite providers, claiming that it's a violation of antitrust law that they don't offer a la carte channel selection
. You can certainly see why some people would want it -- but it's unclear why pay TV providers should be forced to offer it. Either way, with the pace of change, it won't be all that long before this doesn't matter anyway -- and the entire concept of the channel is dead
. We're reaching a time when people will simply subscribe to shows, and no one will worry about channels any more.