I exercised my freedom of choice, and cut cable. I’m a proud cord cutter, but I’m not inherently contentious, cable brought me to that point. I grew up getting television programming for free over the air. Granted the fidelity wasn’t great, but it was convenient. A lot like MP3s and YouTube, it was the preferred consumer choice. It was free, the content was high quality and meaningful, and we accepted the bargain of commercials for high quality programming.
Jumpcut to today. Instead of free wireless content, we have now en masse brought this bundled, overpriced, tethered, monopolistic, politician buying, crappy interfaced, compressed-to-hell, be-there-between-8-and-5, phone-queued “service,” complete with those skin-crawlingly nasty STBs, into the sanctity of our family rooms. But we don’t need to accept it. We can get network TV over the air, catalog content over Netflix, and most current shows through iTunes or Hulu. But not HBO. You can only get it through a cable subscription, through your cable box or card, or through their iOS app, HBO Go.
I would pay for HBO Go on an a la carte basis. I like Game of Thrones, but I have no legal way to watch it. I am not paying Comcast $200 a month again, nor am I throwing away two hours a day, simply to get my money’s worth out of that Faustian deal. I’m done with the prick of that coaxial prong, but HBO, you are bigger than that. You and Showtime earn and deserve your subscription fees. You make great narrative shows worthy of our attention. So does AMC for that matter. I’d pay for AMC-Go and Sho-Go me too while we’re at it. Or just put your content on iTunes, like AMC. Plus, you’d get direct access to moi. My viewing and buying patterns. All that prime, juicy marketing data, direct from the source. Come on, let’s cut out these old world barons, we don’t need them getting between us. Let me give you money.
I’m not even calling the outcome on the eternal debate between subscription and a la carte. For a while it looked like iTunes had proved that a la carte was the obvious winner, but then Netflix streaming, Audible.com, Pandora, Spotify, and others show that subscription and freemium/subscription hybrids have some play too. And I consume both, as I please. That’s the winner, having a choice. Give it to me. Now.
Before Apple turns you into a record label.
SF: As an initial matter, I deeply object to the inclusion of “Faustian Bargain” in your piece, as it is a sleight upon my kin. I’m not sure you want to cross us or our business partners.
I agree with the sentiment, though I’m not sure I’ve been handed a delivery device as attractive as the set-top box. The convenience really can’t be beat and I have a deep hatred of money. However, were you to provide me with a la carte cable pricing, I’d probably do some damage.