A La Carte Channels: Why Not?
WHY CAN’T WE GET A LA CARTE CHANNELS?
Sling TV was busy yesterday. It not only updated its website and announced a new offer of steep discounts on an over-the-air antenna for new customers of its streaming video service, it publicly
criticized the licensing terms broadcasters impose on pay TV systems.
For his company’s website. Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch wrote: “Every consumer would love to just pay $20.00 and then choose the twenty channels they want– and we would love that, too. We would do that in a heartbeat if programmers would let us… but they won’t. So we have fought long and hard to create consumer choice. And we have delivered it in a way no pay TV service has ever been able to do before.
With Sling TV, it’s easy and affordable to customize your personal channel lineup.”
Sling TV CEO Blames Broadcasters
In short, Lynch was saying, unduly restrictive licensing terms, under which cable and satellite TV systems must carry- and pay for- unpopular channels in order to get the retransmission rights for the more popular channels they want, have made streaming video services such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV necessary.
From this beginning, Lynch went on to tout his company’s video platform. “Today, four out of five pay TV want A La Carte TV”, he wrote. “Sling TV is the only pay TV service that allows consumers to pick their personal channel lineup (sic) from genres like sports, comedy, kids, news, movies, and more.
You can start building your perfect TV package for $20.00 per month and add only the Extras and premium channels you want. In an industry that works to prevent consumer choice, we’re introducing A La Carte TV.“
True A La Carte TV May Require Changes in FCC Rules
In spite of Lynch’s rhetoric about a la carte TV, Sling TV hasn’t changed its channel bundles. Its basic ‘Orange’ package of thirty channels sells for $20.00. A somewhat pricier multi-stream ’Blue’ package offers forty channels. True a la carte multichannel TV is yet future, and may require changes in FCC regulation.
UPDATE: In a related story, Sling TV announced on May 2 that it will discount the price of an over-the-air antenna for new customers who pre-pay for three months. Glenn Eisen, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, wrote for its website: “Starting today, by prepaying for at least three months of Sling TV service, you can get an AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for only $50.00- normally priced at 129.99.”
The AirTV Player, built on an Android platform, handles local over-the-air TV broadcasts, Netflix, and Sling TV. Dish Network, which owns Sling TV, unveiled the AirTV Player at the Consumer Electronics Show last January, and last month issued a software update that enables the device to receive local broadcast network affiliate stations.
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