Comcast Testing A La Carte Waters with MyTV Choice

Comcast seems to be keeping itself busy cooking up all sorts of new services in its test kitchens in Pennsylvania. The Comcast chefs’ latest concoction is a potentially tasty treat that tries to balance the exquisite flavors of true a la carte programming with the satisfying gluttony of channel packages. Labeled MyTV Choice, the service has been test run in a couple of regions as part a triple play bundle, but is now getting a stand-alone trial run in Charleston.

For eligible customers, MyTV Choice works like this: You choose from one of two ‘Get Started’ packages, which include the major broadcast networks and some additional basic cable networks. The choice basically comes down to whether or not you want to pay for sports networks like ESPN, which cost an additional $20 a month.

GigaOm

The two incremental ‘Get Started’  packages bring subscribers most of the heavyweight staples of subscription television, but then subscribers would have the option of adding on $10 channel packs. Each channel pack collects together channels that target a similar market or niche, such as a Kids Pack that includes channels such as ABC Family, Disney, and Nickelodeon.  

It is not the holy grail of a la carte programming, but it might go a long way toward balancing the desire of customers to only pay for the channels they want against the reality that many of the channels that we watch and enjoy exist only because their expenses are subsidized at least in part by the fees that cable providers pay for more popular, mainstream sister networks. I can’t see myself ever going back to paying for television, but having the option to not pay for the sports channels or lifestyle channels that I would never watch might be enough to at least get me to consider a subscription service. Might it be enough to lure back any other cord-cutters out there?

  • Still not convinced that A La

    Still not convinced that A La Carte is the answer for bringing prices down on TV. What will happen is that the more popular shows that are more expensive to air by cable companies is that you will have to pay more for those tv shows.

    The “crap” shows no one watches are bundled in with the other shows people want, and thus drives the prices down, but again we will have to see what comes of it. What’s next all tv goes streaming and we no longer get good high quality, super high definition tv with surround sound?

  • I don’t know if it will bring

    I don’t know if it will bring prices down either, but I am tired of paying for 1000 channels and watching maybe 5-10 of them.  A true a la carte would at least give me the ability to really choose and pay for what I watch.  And if I read this correctly it still does not allow channel by channel selection.

    My hopes are on streaming TV.   This will finally offer the competition the cable and satellite companies need to change.

     

    • Yes but do you really want

      Yes but do you really want crappy online streaming? I don’t know about you but I didn’t put together what I would consider a really nice home theater/entertainment setup at home to watch crapping 4mbps so called HD with 2 channel audio.

      Until the online streaming options can supply HD up to the standards of OTA and Cable and also have at least 5.1 surround sound then I wouldn’t even consider it an option.

      -Josh

  • A la carte selections will

    A la carte selections will only lower your cable bill if you are allowed to pick only the channels you want.  I don’t see this happening as it will also lower the profit margins for your provider.  Chances are, by the time you get your basic package and then start adding in the channels you want, you’ll end up paying more than you do now.

    I dropped all of my premium channels and turned in all but one cable box and three cablecards back to Verizon.  My total monthly cable bill is about $63, including hardware rentals.  I get all of my local channels via OTA, even though they’re available on FIOS.  This allows me to free up all eight of my Ceton tuners for encrypted FIOS channels.

    I can still get all of the premium shows I used to subscribe to on HBO and Showtime (bittorrent is your friend Wink) and I don’t have to resort to streaming to get them.

    Getting the channels you want a la carte seems like a great idea, but the reality is you’ll never get anything from the cable providers that doesn’t turn them a workable profit. 

    • captain_video wrote:A la

      [quote=captain_video]

      A la carte selections will only lower your cable bill if you are allowed to pick only the channels you want.  [/quote]

      I still don’t see that happening ether. Say you only watch 25 channels of the 200+ you get (which I highly doubt that happens in most house holds) those 25 channels when priced individually will add up to cost more than the 200 channels you pay for.

      Profit margins aside, the content providers aren’t dumb, they won’t charge you what it costs them to obtain the license to provide the content. They will share those costs with you. Either way they’ll make money.

      The only real way to cut costs, or to lower costs is to boycott tv and not watch it, however that is much harder to do than say for many of us.

      [quote]I can still get all of the premium shows I used to subscribe to on HBO and Showtime (bittorrent is your friend Wink) and I don’t have to resort to streaming to get them.[/quote]

      Yes but you are resorting to illegal and/or immoral activities to accomplish this. While this sparks a whole other debate I will just leave it alone for now.

      -Josh

      • captain_video wrote:

        I can

        [quote=captain_video]

        I can still get all of the premium shows I used to subscribe to on HBO and Showtime (bittorrent is your friend Wink) and I don’t have to resort to streaming to get them.[/quote]

        [quote=umdivx]

        Yes but you are resorting to illegal and/or immoral activities to accomplish this. While this sparks a whole other debate I will just leave it alone for now.

        -Josh[/quote]

        I can only refer to the saying about people in glass houses, etc., (not that it specifically applies to you).  Charging me $25 a month for both HBO and Cinemax just to watch a handful of shows seems outrageous to me.  I didn’t even know I was getting charged for Cinemax until right before I cancelled it (I never ordered it as I had subscribed only to HBO initially; Verizon must have bumped me up to a combined package without informing me).  I never watched any movies on either channel or any of the other specials.  If I could get just the shows I wanted for a few bucks a month I’d probably spring for it.  Otherwise, I can wait to get them on Blu-Ray from NetFlix.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the shows I want are available to me via a provider to whom I pay a monthly fee.  Other shows I get aren’t available on any FIOS channel, such as BBC America in HD.

  • I don’t really plan on ever

    I don’t really plan on ever seeing a la carte from Comcast.   I am about to move.  We watch about 70% network TV and 30% Netflix.  When we move I may just try to pull the plug on cable.

  • Am I the only one who first

    Am I the only one who first read that as MythTV?  I damn near fell out of my chair, thinking that Comcast actually was making their content available to MythTV users!

    As far as what they’re actually doing, it’s a small step.  Anytime someone at least TRIES to allow me to lower my monthly bill, I’m at least a little happy*.

    * That is, usually, right up until I read the fine print.

    • No, you’re not the only one. 

      No, you’re not the only one.  I saw the same thing when I first read it, which forced me to take a closer look.