The Cable Conundrum

Finally, someone on the national level has put out the idea I’ve been thinking of for years. USA Today has weighed in on the issue of cable companies not allowing their customers to choose which channels they want to buy. Today nearly every basic cable package includes MTV and ESPN whether or not you actually want to watch either channel. Don’t like the debauchery MTV tells young people is normal? Tough. If you want FoxNews you have to pay for MTV as well. Like Discovery Channel but hate sports? Bite the bullet because you are paying for ESPN even if you don’t know a field goal (NFL) from a field goal (NBA).

Now USA Today brings this issue to light. Why can’t we pay for and get only the channels we want? Can you imagine going to the store and wanting to get a Coke, only to be told you have to buy a Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and a Vanilla Coke as well? Cable does it to you every month. They are saying, since we sell the channels together, you are getting more channels at less cost. So really, you are saving money.

Don’t forget a law of economics. You are not saving money you spend. When you spend $40, you have not just saved $20 – even though the item may be on sale from $60. That $40 is gone. Add that to the fact that you may not even want some of the products you just bought for $40. Cable is exactly like this. You won’t use half the channels you are paying for in the current system.

Fine, I’ll pay more per channel. I’ll still spend less money in the long run giving me a better value. So what is the better value for the consumer? 40 Channels for 40 dollars (most of which will never be viewed), or 15 Channels for $20.00 – all of which are viewed sometime during the month?