Verizon wants to charge people for TV they watch

Nature, and the Screen Actors Guild, do not approve. (SyFy)

Nature, and the Screen Actors Guild, do not approve. (SyFy)

Television viewers would only pay for channels they watch under a plan proposed by Verizon Communications.

The Wall Street Journal reports Verizon, the sixth largest pay-TV provider in the U.S. wants to tie fees it pays to carry TV channels to how many people actually watch them.

Those who watch popular programming like sports would presumably pay more than couch spuds who enjoy Syfy reruns of Sharktopus or maybe even Dinocroc vs. Supergator.

Verizon is discussing its plan with “several ‘midtier and smaller’ media companies, reports the WSJ. The change would not lower Verizon bills, but may stabilize them, said Verizon’s chief programming negotiator.

Even though Verizon’s fiber optic internet and TV service is not available locally, the a la carte idea could change the industry.

Cable companies typically charge users for a cable package that likely includes dozens of channels no one in the home will ever watch.

ESPN, for example, is one of the more expensive channels for cable providers. ESPN pays the NFL almost $2 billion per year to televise football.

That huge cost is passed on to millions of people who never watch sports.

Is that fair?

Not really, but it’s the way it works.

Computer chip maker Intel is currently testing a set-top box that allows consumers to pay per channel. Forbes says that business model may “kill the cable industry as we know it.”

I doubt that. But giving people a choice would be disruptive.

I know I would pay for only four or five channels, other than the ones I can pick up via antenna.

How much would those four or five channels cost? No one knows, yet.

Which channels would you pay for? Which ones would you ditch?

48 comments Add your comment

Jacob Hall

March 19th, 2013
8:51 am

I would pay for MLB Network, ESPN, FX, USA and AMC. Everything else doesn’t matter or can watch over the air/hulu.

Bumper

March 19th, 2013
10:19 am

“Which ones would you ditch?”

At a certain price point TBD I could ditch ‘em all and go back to reading books – the local library is still free.

MANGLER

March 19th, 2013
11:27 am

I never liked having the “option” to pay for hundreds of channels that I never watch. Most of the time the channels I did watch had crap on anyway. If the fallout from this is that the number of channels drops to something reasonable, then I’m all for it. Why are there 17 sports channels all showing the same thing? Why are there 6 networks that all talk about the same thing? I’ve said for years I’d prefer to just pay $5-$10 each for channels I actually enjoy. Those options with fewer followers would either be relegated to the internet or fade away. That’s fine. The remaining stations would actually have to produce quality programming. And maybe this reality TV crapfest will die off too.

iRun

March 19th, 2013
11:27 am

We ditched DirecTV for a Roku and watch stuff a year late on Netflix or Amazon. We’re debating paying a la carte for Hulu, which is available on the Roku.

I would definitely pay for a select few channels – HBO, HGTV, FX, AMC, and a few others.

Ohno

March 19th, 2013
11:28 am

They’d better hurry up and do something soon before we all pull the plug because its priced way out of line.

iRun

March 19th, 2013
11:28 am

Oh, we do have an antennae so we can watch stuff on the local channels but we don’t watch TV during the workweek, so that’s not convenient. Therefore, Hulu.

trystme

March 19th, 2013
11:45 am

HBO, SHO, Starz, Cinemax, Sundance, AMC and that is about it for me.

Paul

March 19th, 2013
11:49 am

Just like a store, pay for what you want and not 30 so called “music channels”, etc. Why would anyone watch TV to hear music, or watch a bunch of so called “reality people” act like idiots plus dueling chefs and a myriad of other mindless stuff?

Justin

March 19th, 2013
11:52 am

I just cancelled DirectTV a month ago, because I got tired of flipping channels that I never watched. Who needs a ton of infomercials about spanx, bras and the latest cooking gadgets? I’m bought a couple of HDTV antennas and will now view what I want on Netflix. I’m saving over $1200.00 a year now just by axing the dish!

Native_Atlantan

March 19th, 2013
11:52 am

ID Channel, A&E, History, ESPN, Spike, Bravo, BET, MTV…. I see why I’m paying for packages.

Karl_Marx

March 19th, 2013
11:54 am

ESPN would be the first to GO!

(the other) Rodney

March 19th, 2013
12:05 pm

I can echo nearly everyone else (except those snobs who think only PBS is worth watching) in saying that I would LEAP at the chance to pay for channels I want on an a la carte basis. Or, give me a “package” and let me remove things for 2 or 3 dollars per channel. I could whittle it down to about 30 or fewer in a quick minute.

Freedom from Left wing tyranny

March 19th, 2013
12:11 pm

Why do we need Artie Lang on 5 different Directv channels simultainously? MSNBC would be the first to go, just before ALGORE-Aljazeera TV, Hippity Hop Ho’s and Gang Banger channels and any shopping channels.

Sharon

March 19th, 2013
12:14 pm

Where do I sign up!!! Bye bye Swamp People, Duck Dynasty, Cops, Real Housewives from Everywhere, etc. Although I love to watch PBS and GPB (not a snob), I like AMC, Turner Classic Movies, and few other channels that I would gladly pay for.

OTA

March 19th, 2013
12:20 pm

Switched to free over the air TV over a year ago. I would gladly pay a reasonable price for Sports South (Atlanta Braves) and Fox News (in lieu of Lame Stream Media). But that will never happen, besides half of India would become unemployed the day that the populace learns that free TV offers a better and more reliable signal than cable/Dish. Ultimately, internet TV has the potential to bust the cable/dish companies and expose their bloated prices and (un)customer service.

Alphare

March 19th, 2013
12:23 pm

The first I would ditch is Fox. I just have a bad taste every time I flip by them.

This is what I like: DIY, TruTV, Discovery, History, ESPN plus all locals.

I totally give up on Braves. Miss them a little, but lives go on.

DANNY

March 19th, 2013
12:25 pm

I hate Verizon, Charter etc.; all cable and phone companies in general!

couch tater

March 19th, 2013
12:35 pm

All of the bible thumper and shopping channels would be out of business if this ever got going. That would eliminate half of the channels right out of the gate!

bigdawg88

March 19th, 2013
12:41 pm

couch tater, you took the words right out of my mouth!! I think a lot of the other channels can be consolidated. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind them putting a chip on my box to they know exactly which channels I’m watching, for a discount. I’m going to pretend they don’t already do that….

Nicko

March 19th, 2013
12:41 pm

Forbes says that business model may “kill the cable industry as we know it.”

I doubt that. But giving people a choice would be disruptive.

I wouldn’t be so sure. Hollywood and the entertainment industry need to get with the program and offer more a la carte options to consumers, as well allow that content to be viewed seamlessly on multiple devices, including mobile ones. The cable industry is ripe for a big shake up.

TV Watcher

March 19th, 2013
12:47 pm

A lot of the channels people listed here as ones they would keep would immediately fall into one of two categories – 1. Out of business b/c not enough people would pay for them (DIY, TruTV, possibly even Bravo, AMC) or 2. Because the program cost is not shared over all viewership as part of a package, then the a-la-carte price could be $10, $15, $25 per month for one (History, SyFy, Food) channel. You could easily have a $100+ bill for 7 to 10 channels.

The vast majority of folks would get a lot less value for not much of a different bill and lose out on some channels that wwhile not frequently watched, may give you a couple of shows per month.

PTC DAWG

March 19th, 2013
12:54 pm

TV Watcher hit the nail on the head.

StanTheMan

March 19th, 2013
12:56 pm

Apparently tv watcher works for Comcast. Personally I would pay for AMC just for the Walking Dead.
And Tom Haynes above? You need help bro.

Keith Johnson

March 19th, 2013
1:04 pm

Better yet. Any content your little heart desires…paid for by the minute. You get all channels but only pay WHEN you watch.

TV Watcher

March 19th, 2013
1:07 pm

Nope. Just stating the facts. Stan – do you think AMC would only be $2 – $5 per month? If 60% dropped AMC given the chance, do you think AMC is going to eat that? Of course not. Either they pass the costs to the remaining watchers or go out of business b/c they can’t sell as much advertising and they don’t get as much back from the cable companies. This is true of the big channels such as ESPN too. They are not losing money. Say 6 million subscribers in Atlanta drops to 3.5 – the “Sports leader” is getting paid. And they will do it by jacking the price for those who stuck with it. Its simple math.

Old Grunt

March 19th, 2013
1:15 pm

Consumer Reports gives Verizon the highest marks. If anything, they would provide some much needed competition to COMCAST — which is sorely needed!

ryan

March 19th, 2013
1:19 pm

Get rid of info channels the only channels i watch Sports like ESPN and movie channels like HBO Verizon Fios is not available in Georgia because we have AT&T Uverse and Comcast and Charter pretty much owns our state .

DogsRule

March 19th, 2013
1:25 pm

The cable/satelite companies would figure it out to where your bill would still be 100 or more every month.

Billy

March 19th, 2013
1:38 pm

Just put everything on NetFlix; how much TV can a person watch in one day? Charge more for multiple sets if you use more than one TV at a time. It would be the answer if you only added local channels to it. I have Comcast/Xfinity with a zillion channels; I like it better than DirecTV, except for the lack of all the DirecTV religious channels. All comsumers on a budget, (i.e., non-rich people), want ala carte choices; the company that offers that deal will bury the competition. Be brave, put it out there!

cutthecord

March 19th, 2013
1:56 pm

We use Roku and dropped cable altogether. We only download channels we want. A lot of them are free. No monthly fees unless you want to subscribe to a service. Doesn’t work for everyone’s needs though.

Ace

March 19th, 2013
2:04 pm

Basic is less than $25 a month, why just give money away paying for stuff you don’t watch.

Growing Old Quickly

March 19th, 2013
3:07 pm

At last. I have been waiting for this. Good thing the Braves dropped off one channel. One less to pay for.

But you know who will lose out? Teenage kids, that’s who. Parents will pay for their kids to watch Disney or Nickelodeon, but they aren’t going to pay for MTV or all the other stupid reality show channels.

I will pay for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FoxSports, SportsSouth. My wife will take whatever channel Jeopardy is on, HGTV, and maybe PBS. Then I guess I will have to let my daughter pick a couple of channels, as long as it is not MTV and whatever channel has all the ghost hunter shows! Surely that won’t come up to the $80+ dollars/month they are charging us now.

Now, when they get to the point that they actually charge you for the individual shows, not channels, it will get really interesting: “Do I like this re-run show for $0.50 today?” At least now Houston is in the American League so I won’t have to decide if I should pay to watch the Bravos play them.

Karl_Marx

March 19th, 2013
3:13 pm

What we all need to do is put up a over the air antenna for free TV and save to 100 dollar plus Cable/Satellite bill.

Fred ™

March 19th, 2013
3:13 pm

I would ditch all those racist channels like BET and TV1. and EVERY shopping channel……..

Thrash

March 19th, 2013
3:16 pm

It’s about time. I’d prefer just subscribing to channels I want via internet delivery and delete the set top box altogether.

PR

March 19th, 2013
3:16 pm

I wuld prefer to pay for the channels I want. Don’t need ESPN or Sports channel, or racing cahnnels. Like SyFy, Comedy Central, CNN, etc. Let me have the option and do compaison shopping.

Don't Tread

March 19th, 2013
3:48 pm

There’s too much junk on TV that we’re subsidizing with package programming. I’m all for a la carte programming. I’d keep History Channel, maybe ESPN, the local channels, and a few others…that’s it.

JoeTVFan

March 19th, 2013
3:49 pm

This is an AWESOME idea! I’m paying way too much for cable, considering I only watch a handful of the channels in my cable package. I really hope this move forces Comcast to do the same thing!

Michael

March 19th, 2013
3:52 pm

In the old days of C-band satellite, the programming was both a la carte and packages!

Native Mom

March 19th, 2013
3:54 pm

I just told my household that I was ditching cable and trying out Hulu and some other outside services to watch the channels we watch. Other than local (including Fox) we watch about 5 or 6 other stations regularly and Netflix is our movie channel. I would like to pay for only what I want.

Always Skeptical

March 19th, 2013
3:55 pm

I haven’t had cable for years. Roku and Apple TV ( 99 bucks each….You buy it, set it and forget it) along with some minor subscriptions like Amazon Prime and Pandora fit the bill nicely. A digital antenna gets us local programming and free HDTV (I’m also loving France 24 on free over the air digital TV…All news in English, all the time, with no commercials and real hardhitting news..Hear that CNN?). Unless you watch tons of sports you are getting messed over royally by all of the sports networks. Why would you want to pay for literally hundreds of channels of infomercials and sports when you don’t watch any if it? I’m so happy they don’t get any of my money.

Alistair

March 19th, 2013
3:55 pm

the ala carte idea—long time coming. It will kill the cable business—which is good, because that model is broken and inefficient. Let people pay for what they watch, nothing more.

Kanarstead

March 19th, 2013
3:58 pm

They will have to come up with an honest price for a la carte to get me back. I cut the cord a little over 2 years ago and have saved $2,400. I thought I would come crawling back after 2 months, but surprisingly I don’t miss it at all.

I hate feeling like I’m being ripped off, and that to me describes the cable/satellite/content provider racket.

Atlanta Consumer

March 19th, 2013
4:01 pm

I ditched cable years ago. My kids now spend more time reading and playing, and weekly family time at the FREE public library. Its amazing how much better they’ve done in school instead of camping out in front of the idiot box stuffing their faces with junk food !

dunzoJr

March 19th, 2013
5:00 pm

I did the same as many on here…al a carte is basically here already with ROKU. I pay $8.00 per month for Netflix and $8.00 for HULU Plus. That along with my HDTV antenna allows me to watch the same stuff I was paying $100.00 per month for last year with DirecTV. The big providers should be nervous.

Alec White

March 21st, 2013
9:00 pm

George,

This is lazy reporting. The idea that individuals are paying more for channels is seductive but far from the truth.

The reality is that the basic cable bill is the price at which you value the channels you watch, regardless of the set. If you pay $100 a month and only watch the Food Network, then you value the Food Network at $100, and the cable company would try to get prices as close to $100 as possible if thats how the consumer values it.

For a la carte pricing to work, there needs to be a large contingent of consumers that watch all of the channels and could be charged an additional premium for the bundle, when in practice most consumers only consume a few channels, and at the margin value their subset of channels at the price of their cable bill.

sidney

March 22nd, 2013
10:50 am

zero i don’t watch that much tv i’m always on the computer

jtom

March 22nd, 2013
11:13 am

Hey, let’s not stop here. Let me bid on how much I will pay to watch a station, and they can decide if it’s acceptable. if not, I’ll watch something else. Some stations would have to PAY ME to watch, i.e., share some of their ad revenue with me, to lure me to watch their substandard content.

Best of all, I wouldn’t be supporting some TV stations whose politics I find repugnant (and, of course, you won’t be paying for any that you find objectionable, either). Some stations would immediately go dark.