According to the Hollywood Reporter, Verizon Fios is officially the first Pay TV provider to offer “customized programming.” You’ll now be able to select from “channel packages,” like kids, pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, news and info, and sports.
Every FiOS Custom TV package includes a base set of 35 channels, including select national networks, plus all local broadcast stations and CNN, HGTV, HGTV and Food Network. Subscribers then choose two genre packs as part of the $54.99 per month base offer. Customers who want more than two packs can add more for $10 per month for each additional pack. Each pack features 10-17 channels.
This sounds great in theory, although there is still some question about whether they will be able to bundle ESPN into the sports package (Verizon says that they can, while the Washington Post is reporting that ESPN’s parent company, Disney, says that they cannot).
Verizon reiterates that, despite the number of channels most cable packages offer, the average consumer only watches 17 channels, so this deal should be great, right? Maybe, if the 17 channels that the average consumer watches all fit nicely within two of those packages. Are HBO or Showtime included within those packages, or do you have to pay more for that?
What I am realizing, however, is that — after all these years of wanting a la carte programming — I now wish that there was more bundling, because while I may only watch 17 channels, those “channels” include Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Amazon Prime, ESPN, AMC, FX, and Comedy Central, which are probably spread across several categories, and and when you begin to add up the category packages, it may run higher than the average price of a good cable package.
Maybe the better way to categorize the packages than Sports/Entertainment/Pop Culture and News is to categorize them by “People Who Watch Great TV” (AMC, FX, Comedy Central, HBO) and “People Who Watch Crap TV” (TLC, E!, etc.), and “People Who Still Get Their News From Partisan Talking Heads” (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News).
It’s difficult to slice up our viewing habits into categories. What I’d be more interested in seeing now is a package that bundles stand-alone services — like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu — with cable channels, like HBO and FX, and allows us to watch them all across any platform. I don’t care about cable, but I also don’t want to spend an obscene amount for every channel that I watch. A la carte should mean more than packages within a specific category. It should mean the ability to select specific channels and get them bundled at a discount because paying for them individually doesn’t help matters much, either. If you watch 17 channels and pay $10 for each channel, you’ve run your bill up to $170 a month. We suddenly can’t cut the cord because cutting the cord is more expensive than cable.