Monday, February 08, 2010

"Bundles of Cable": Streaming video may be more the issue than unbundling (remember the same debate for mainframe computers?)


The media has come out with some interesting perspectives on whether cable pricing ought to be unbundled. The biggest one is by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker, “Bundles of Cable: Why cable companies bundle their channels,” link here.

It’s true, in my case, since I am an “old” customer, My Comcast bill has tended to creep up (by all of 54 cents next month), but it’s true that gradually more channels have been added, such as (finally) the LGBT-oriented Logo channel – an important source of the Reel Affirmations films that I missed. There’s a lesson in that: Logo offers a lot of movies free for a while, just as networks and many cable stations offer many of their series episodes “free” on the web (you have to watch the commercials). In fact, the trend toward (copyright legal) web archives of most shows might do more to break the cable model than anything. In fact, networks and individual cable channels may be more responsive to consumers than Hollywood, or especially the RIAA.

The New Yorker article makes the case that unbundled channels would not be cheaper, as prices could soar on individual channels.
Ezra Klein, a technology and political blogger for The Washington Post, summarizes all this today here on Monday Feb. 8. with a short piece called “The Future of Cable” with a referback to the New Yorker.

Somehow, this reminds me of all the arguments regarding bundling that went on with mainframe computer systems twenty years ago.

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