While it may not be completely à la carte, Verizon continues the unbundling trend.
Verizon may be taking Dish Network’s Sling TV strategy of offering a small, low-priced bundle of basic programming, supplemented by add-on packages, to its FiOS pay-TV service. This plan involves a base of around 35 channels, including local stations, CNN, HGTV, AMC, and others, with other interest-based channel packages available as add-ons. Verizon will even throw in two of the seven add-on packages for free, with each additional package tacking on $10 to a customer’s monthly bill. While the packages are a bit smaller and cheaper, this is exactly how Dish Network’s new virtual pay-TV product Sling TV works. With a virtual pay-TV offering of its own in the works, this new pricing scheme could form the backbone of that service as well. Unlike Verizon, Dish only offers these more flexible bundles via Sling TV and not to its satellite TV customers who are stuck with the more familiar large bundles.
Slowly but surely, the pay-TV industry is starting to respond to customers’ demands. More and more people have been voting with their wallets, canceling their overpriced TV subscriptions, or signing up for services like Sling TV. While cost has always been at the heart of the matter, a nearly universal gripe is that because they are forced into these big expensive bundles, and not offered cheaper options, TV customers are forced to pay for dozens of channels that they don’t want and never watch. Dish and Verizon are addressing this problem head-on. With Sling TV or the newly customizable FiOS service, a customer without children wouldn’t be required to pay for both ESPN and the Disney Channel if they didn’t want to. It may not be totally à la carte TV, as many consumers have been asking for, but it’s getting much closer. Genre-based bundle building blocks make much more financial sense for consumers, at the expense of the networks that have long profited by being able to pass a slew of less desirable channels onto consumers by bundling them with more popular ones.