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Cable by the hour

by PuT6hpcu2Xh3f / June 4, 2008 2:33 AM PDT

Brilliant. I would love a cable by the hour model. I don't watch a ton of TV, and when I do I tend to watch specialty channels. I pay a ton of money tacking on tiers to the basic service so I can get those specialty channels, and probably only watch 5-6 hours a week of 3 or 4 channels. If they?re not going ala carte, this is a model I would totally sign on for.

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Cable meters and tuning out our future
by Vegaman_Dan / June 4, 2008 3:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Cable by the hour

I've had cable service in the past that had cable meters that could detect if there was a television on and putting a draw on the system. If you had the TV on, you were billed like any other utility. If it was off, you saved money.

With over the air broadcasting, broadcasters only made money if they sold advertising. In order to sell advertising they had to provide viewers with content that they would want to tune in for. That was the only money involved.

With cable, there is no need for this. You are paying whether or not you view any broadcast at all. There really isn't any incentive for cable providers or broadcasters to provide anything worth watching since you're going to be paying for it regardless. The only real difference is which network gets the advertising dollars.

I would love to see cable meters and rate plans enforced. It would help in three critical areas:

1) Content would have to improved to make it worth watching TV again. If you only show drivel and I don't want to watch any of it, I just turn off the TV and don't pay a dime. Nobody makes any money unless they offer something worth watching.

2) Uptime: Currently if your cable goes down, the cable company will try to get out to you as soon as they can- in a day or two, maybe longer. There really isn't any need for them to come help you in a timely manner- you're paying for the service even if you aren't able to receive it. Treat it like the power company- you pay for what you use. Imagine if the power company decided to adopt the cable provider's model and started charging you a base amount of power they thought you would use even if you never turned on a light the entire time.

3) TV as a babysitter. We have an entire generation of people growing up today who know more about what is happening on American Idol than they do about the current presidential election (okay, so maybe even the two political parties don't know much about what is going on either, but the fact remains). Kids are placed in front of the television as a babysitter and don't really let their creativity grow from entertaining themselves or learning about the world about them.

We could all benefit from turning the TV off now and then, from financial savings to the enlightenment of our children.

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#2 and #3 - awesome descriptions of those issues....
by shawnlin / June 4, 2008 3:22 AM PDT

I didn't even think about #2 before - clever, clever...


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from a cable worker.
by mementh / June 6, 2008 2:50 PM PDT

1. there is great content now.. there is jot alot of difficulty getting licensing and rights to put on demand.

2. Here in nashville the policy that we go by is from the time you call in and setup a trouble call till the time your fix is credited as long as your out more then 24 hours (or one day (My judement usually)

3. your right.. i need to go out on the streets at night (when i am awake) and jog and run and such *sing* In the middle of the NIIIIIGGGGGHHHTTt* (this # is complete sarcasm)

Honestly people would LOVE a ala cart cable provider... untill they reazlied how much each channel would cost them...

IE Here i know a few years ago it cost about $15/person (in $$ or free advertizing) to have the ESPN network.. but we make it back having so many off there channels to sell advertising on so its not a huge cost.)

Most channels are in the range of $.30 to $2.00 to $3.00 per person. (note $2.00 and $3.00 are very very very popular channels)

So, do you want to pay $5/channel because things can't be done in deals?

I would love to see more options, more packages so that people can customize more.. (more groupings and more choice to leave certain things out) Are the big cheeses working on that? i don't know.

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More groupings would not interest me.
by minimalist / June 6, 2008 8:05 PM PDT
In reply to: from a cable worker.

That's just the same tired old model we have now with even more confusion. Its already difficult enough to understand what the cable packages actually ARE and what they will cost (and I do not believe for a second that this confusion is an accident.)

A la carte programming will come whether the cable companies and the production houses want it to or not. Its already happening with online streaming, apple Tv, xbox, Netflix and television DVD sales. If the cable companies don't offer it someone else will.

I gave up cable 3 years ago and haven't looked back once. There are too many other ways to get the shows I want to see.

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by mementh / June 7, 2008 6:09 AM PDT

your right.. its more confusing.. but you want alacart.. which is even MORE confusing

alacart does not seem to be a viable option unless its group to provide the cheapest option.. to do packages would allow cable co's to make large advertizing deals and make it just say you want the sports package or you want the A&E package or whatever...

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It's confusing because cable companies WANT it to be
by minimalist / June 7, 2008 8:18 AM PDT
In reply to: eh

that way. If they would clearly list the packages what you got with them and how much they cost on their web sites it would be easy to choose a plan (As would be a la carte programming). But both Time Warner and Comcast have behaved equally sleazy the way they use customer confusion to their advantage. Up-selling people to a higher tier is priority one.

Not only do I think the idea of packages needs to end, I think the idea of channels needs to go away as well. Why should the quality programming be used to subsidize the other 95% of the crap on TV? I say stand on your own merits and sell direct. If you appeal to a smaller niche audience lower your budget accordingly and you will find a good fit that works economically. Competition needs to happen on a macro level.

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people don't want micro managing
by mementh / June 7, 2008 1:32 PM PDT

No one wants to micro manage something.. choosing each show you want is silly..

plus there is a certain level of cost that it takes for cable companies to make some profit.. and thats usually the standard levels.. they do make more profit at the higher levels but.. :/

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by minimalist / June 7, 2008 2:04 PM PDT

I'd say from the numbers of people who have flocked to Hulu, Xbox 360, Apple TV, as well as plain old bit torrent in just the last year people LOVE the idea of micromanaging what they watch. Its not like its rocket science to hear about a new show and seek it out.

I'm sure the record companies used to believe their model was the only way of doing business as well. Take a handful of top 20 hits and force people to buy albums with lots of filler material to get them and you subsidize the rest of your business with the profits. But you can see where holding onto the past got them. Albums are like channels. If its all good people will buy it and perhaps get a bit of a discount. But you can't force them to buy it anymore and they want to option of buying the shows they want to watch.

And it doesn't have to be expensive. By not subscribing to cable I can afford to buy a TV box set (or rent it for even cheaper) once every month or two and STILL come out spending less.

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Your right but.
by mementh / June 8, 2008 11:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Really?

Your right, people want to watch what they want.. but I wonder how many people would have been willing to watch Lost had it not been free over the air or on the cable they already pay for.

The problem with your modle is.. discovery (flipping though channels). So far all (to my limited knowlage which might be wrong) a company will give out a preview episode (the first one usually) and only let it be free for a few weeks or a week.

Then they don't give people the free taste. (this is what i have seen on itunes)

There is a problem, cost. No online only show has yet to earn the company that makes it enough to produce a MAJOR show.
Lost cost millions to make... but the online option makes very little (in comparison).

Take even Revision3's options for Diggnation and Tekzilla (there two main shows that i watch)
Those make some money with ads, but no where NEAR enough.

For now Any MAJOR show that wants to be online has to be in a MAJOR channel on broadcast or cable so that they can afford to make a MAJOR show.

They need advertizing, which wants eyeballs, which you need major deals for. (which can only be gotten if you combine packages for the cable companies)

Some times the audience is low for some channels (Ziff Davis TV to Tech TV to G4) and they don't do that good. (which these benifit from groupped packages)

Give it 5-10 years and maybe a company like rev3 can have a breakout hit (a sitcom or series that would be equal to a minor series) and 15 years for a major like battlestar galactica.

At that point when that happens it will be bought by a major media company to add MORE eyeballs... maybe even give a online exclusives first it premiers online then on the tv.

But for now.. its the traditional options.

About your radio model... it does not fit... take the ammount of stuff on tv now, and you will see, alot of shows are given a HUGE chance.... some make it (like american chopper and Mythbusters) and some don't (like i belive smash labs)

So you limit your options to a few shows and no discovery options.... It can work but severly limits the things your exposed to.

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Yeah, that's what I'm thinkin' too...
by shawnlin / June 4, 2008 3:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Cable by the hour

I don't watch much TV either. Especially because of the digital switchover, it'd be easier to do. There's a few other ways it could work:

1) Access to all channels (except adult programming)
2) Each channel has some kind of quota of
3a) Consider the cell phone plans - XXXhrs per month, then $X/hr over the limit.
3b) Or a low, flat fee for access and $X/hr of viewing per TV.

I'd really like to get a sociologist's perspective here - would this generally increase productivity because of "limiting" viewing and getting away from an "all you can eat" plan? And what other affects could we expect to see?
I think the unlimited plans have a place, but they're just not for as many people as we think, ya know?...


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Unlimited Plans
by Renegade Knight / June 4, 2008 4:54 AM PDT

The plans are unlimted because cable (and over the air) broadcasts the programming regardless of who is watching. M*A*S*H reruns are always on at the same time. You would have to have a DVR to use a meter and make it work well.

Metered use would work better in an on demand situation. That way you can watch M*A*S*H when you are ready. On demand would remove the need for a DVR and the need for broadcasting a set schedule of programs. Except of course News. Talk radio and other relativly live things...

Like most things you would get to pick the problems you are going to live with.

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dont forget to turn your tv off!
by robstak / June 7, 2008 1:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Cable by the hour

i mean at this point what do we pay for by the hour other than electricity?

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Think cell phone plans...
by PuT6hpcu2Xh3f / June 7, 2008 6:42 AM PDT

Actually, I guess what I have in mind is more like a cell phone plan. Say, 1000 minutes a month for a flat fee, then billed for additional time.

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