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The quest for “a la carte” cable

If you’re like most cable customers, you are probably paying for more channels than you’ll ever watch.  That’s because Pay TV providers like Comcast and Time Warner only offer channels as part of expensive “bundles,” rather than letting you purchase channels individually.  Non-sports fans are paying for ESPN.  Retirees are paying for Nickelodeon.  It doesn’t make sense!

But that may soon change.  HBO dropped a bombshell when they revealed last week that it will offer an online-only streaming service in 2015 so customers can enjoy programming without having to purchase an expensive TV package.  Other companies seem to be joining the standalone-service-bandwagon.  A day after HBO’s announcement, CBS revealed that it will introduce a $5.99 per month online subscription service, and Verizon indicated it is moving towards “a la carte” cable when it announced the launch of its own Internet-based TV service earlier this month.

Is this the end of unnecessary, expensive TV packages?  It may be too soon to tell, but this is an important first step in the quest for a la carte cable–where you would pay for only the channels you want, and skip the expensive ones you don’t need.