Streaming A La Carte: Paying Even More For What You Really Want

Rejoice! A la carte programming has finally arrived in a purely digital form: streaming on the Internet. You can get exactly the TV networks you want -- in theory. Trouble is, you’ll also be paying for them.

And the numbers will start to add up there’s CBS, $5.99 a month; Netflix, $8.99 a month. And HBO? We don’t have a clue yet -- maybe $7.99 a month.

Wait, I’m not done. You’ll probably want to add Viacom networks (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, etc.); Scripps Networks Interactive (Food Network, HGTV, etc.); maybe also from Discovery Networks; Turner Broadcasting, and NBC Universal.

This might add up to $50 to $70? So far, that’s a good deal. But maybe you occasionally watch sports. That’s cost you too.

If you couldn’t imagine before what securing only those TV networks you want, on a la carte basis, looks like, now you know. And, of course, all that comes at a price. If you are rich, and desire a lot of content, price really holds no bounds.

Announcing their efforts on back-to-back days, HBO’s and CBS’ respective stand-alone streaming efforts will give consumers a true way to compare a la carte to bundled. Thing is, they might be running back to their cable, satellite, or telco provider.

This may be the perfect intermediate step for TV content owners, a way to really test the waters to see when and where consumers will bite -- or bite back.

Now we will just have to wait for those uncomfortable marketing campaigns from the likes of DirecTV or Comcast, showing a comparison between what you get if you buy your favorite networks separately -- and what you can get if you buy the whole she-bang for around $80 to $100 a month.

How many separate TV bills do you want at the end of the month, anyway? I feel my head spinning now.

No one said the way to digital streaming-land from the traditional pay TV model would be an either/or situation -- at least initially. It’s just another way TV network executives can say they are giving consumers TV programming: “Whenever, wherever, on whatever device they want.”

Now you can add the phrase, “and at whatever confusing price point you may not be able to understand.”



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