With last week’s news of cracks starting to form in the infamous cable bundles, you’d think the last people to feel vindicated by the announcements from CBS, HBO, and others would be the cable companies themselves. But that’s exactly what they’d have you believe. Cord-cutters’ celebrations were paused momentarily as several news outlets began reporting that unbundled, web-delivered TV was suddenly not looking as cheap as promised. But while the math adds up, the logic does not. There’s a few details that have been left out by those warning of higher prices outside of cable bundles.

The first assumption that has led many to fear higher prices à la carte is that people will essentially be recreating their cable bundle from scratch using subscription services. If you subscribe to dozens of networks, paying a monthly fee of $5 to $10 for each one, then yes, the price would exceed that of the average cable bill. But that’s the whole point. The benefit of going à la carte is not subscribing to dozens of channels. A consumer serious about cutting the cord to save money would only subscribe to a handful of channels: only those that are the exclusive home to their top favorite must-watch shows, not dozens more just to have options to flip through as is currently the case with cable. Think about all of the cable channels out there, and how many you may actually watch. From the Food Network, to the Disney Channel, To Fox News, to ESPN, somebody out there loves every channel on TV, but nobody loves all of them indiscriminately. While surfing channels you may stop on the History Channel if something catches your interest, but when you begin to look at it from the perspective of paying for each channel individually, that and many others that you may watch from time to time may not justify a monthly cost and be left out. Therein lies the savings.

More fuel to the rumor that à la carte TV will be too expensive is the fact that channels themselves are already too expensive for the cable companies. Because of the current business model, networks can literally charge whatever they want to TV providers, and those companies have to pay up to be successful. When Google tried to get into the pay-TV business via their Google Fiber project, they found themselves paying more then double what the incumbents were for the same exact channels. Currently Dish Network subscribers have lost access to a slew of channels because of a dispute with Turner Broadcasting. It’s only a matter of time before Dish caves, because anyone who wants to watch CNN only to find the channel blacked out probably won’t wait too long before finding a new TV provider who will give them what are increasingly being seen as basic channels. This nonsense is bad for consumers, and à la carte or pick-and-pay TV addresses the problem head on. Cable companies are caught in the middle, but the networks can’t pull the same games when dealing direct with customers. À la carte pricing is the only way that companies like Disney will learn how much consumers are actually willing to pay for ESPN, or how often they’ll stomach a price increase, or whether they can force three separate children’s channels on users as a pre-condition. The same consumers who have put their foot down with the cable companies will draw a line with the networks too if they don’t feel they’re getting value for their money. When they begin selling direct to consumers, the market will dictate prices, causing them to stabilize at a reasonable level. It may not happen overnight, and we’re at the very beginning of the process now, but that’s an essential step to getting all pay-TV bills, cable or otherwise, under control.

Last but not least, there are options beyond à la carte channels. If you only watch a single show on HBO, there’s no need to pay a monthly subscription for it. You could buy or rent that single show’s episodes as they’re available. Those who don’t insist on watching shows as soon as they air and can wait a few weeks or months for them will be able to find them at a lower price, if not for free. And on that note, if your heart isn’t set on watching a specific show, there are hundreds of thousands of free TV shows and movies online, enough to keep even a die-hard TV fan entertained for hours and hours. It will take some getting used to, there are plenty of free options that give viewers something to watch when they aren’t watching their favorite shows. Right now cable bills are so expensive because you’re paying for all of that filler. À la carte makes it easier to cut all of that out and only pay for what you actually want to watch.

The cable companies are trying to paint a picture of the same old TV experience, which ignores the benefits of à la carte pricing in an effort to scare consumers with high prices. As over-the-top becomes the norm, synonymous with TV the way cable is now, there will definitely be some adjustments to go through, for networks as well as for consumers. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. The internet has revolutionized so many products and industries for the better. A quick Google search now replaces 5 minutes thumbing through a reference phone book. A trip to Amazon.com and you could check everything off of your shopping list before you’d even have time to get to a store, and it could all be shipped to your house in the next few days. If you decide you want to take a trip this weekend, you can book a flight in seconds without any need for a travel agent. And perhaps best of all, each of these things and more can be done from anywhere with a smartphone. Yet we can still only watch TV in our homes, on television sets hooked up to cable boxes. Not for long though; rest assured that television is the next frontier to be turned upside-down by the power of the internet, and à la carte content is going to be a big part of the equation.