Time Warner Cable is doing something revolutionary in test markets in New York and Northeast Ohio: offering its customers a cheaper channel lineup.
When the economy went south, Americans started doing what many considered unthinkable: cutting their cable service. Broadcasting & Cable magazine recently reported that 22% of consumers either scaled down or canceled their cable service within the past six months.
Time Warner Cable is taking action to retain customers who are considering saying goodbye to their subscription with its “TV Essentials” package, which will carry about 50 channels, and will be priced at roughly half the cost of the current package.
Channels will include A&E, AMC, Bravo, Cartoon Network, Disney, HGTV, Lifetime and MTV. The system has reportedly promised at least one channel from each major genre: customers will receive ESPN News, but not ESPN; TBS but not TNT; CNN but neither MSNBC nor Fox News.
(Insert your Republican viewer joke here.)
The service is expected to save customers as much as $20 per month, although it’s a limited deal: after 12 months, the price jumps to $49.99. Which would then nearly wipeout the discount that makes the limited service potentially attractive.
If successful, it could be a first step towards a la carte programming, a long-hoped-for alternative that would allow customers more freedom to pick channels they want, rather than having to pay more for channels they don’t.
For my book, I’d be happy to do without any of the ESPN channels, HGTV, Disney, Lifetime and any music channel. I could even do without TVLand if I had to. And TruTV is obsessed with really bad reality shows of late: if Forensic Files ever got its own channel, I’d love to have that.
But if such a deal became available to me, I’d jump at it. How about you?