/// A la Carte Is the Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had

August 14, 2013  |  Media Week

During earnings calls among the major networks last week, there was a consistent refrain: a la carte may be in the news, but it's not on the horizon. Most CEOs simply took questions about a la carte the same way they take all dumb questions: as invitations to discuss their networks' innate superiority to the competition. “We doubt that it will happen, but if it happens, it probably helps us,” said Jeff Bewkes to an analyst who essentially admitted in his question that a la carte was an unlikely proposition. Ken Lowe was perhaps the least equivocal on the Scripps Networks Interactive earnings call this past Thursday: “It's a very remote possibility at this point,” Lowe said gently in response to an analyst. “It's not something I think is anywhere near in the future even though it's a little bit in the news these days. Really, it gives me a chance to underscore the value of the video package.” Indeed. So why are we talking about it at all? Well, Time Warner Cable's Glenn Britt proposed selling cable channels a la carte to CBS head Les Moonves a week ago (a proposal that Moonves laughed off). “if you are unwilling to agree to this proposal,” wrote Britt, “we would also be willing to resume carriage by allowing CBS to make its stations available on an a la carte basis at a price and on terms of its choosing, with 100% of that price remitted to CBS.” Let's be clear: nobody, least of all Glenn Britt, thinks this is a good idea. Except maybe people in Congress, and that's why Glenn Britt probably shouldn't be pretending he takes the notion seriously.

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A la Carte Is the Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had

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