Over the last few years, many customers have been badgering their TV providers to start offering TV packages that come with a smaller monthly price and less TV channels. People are beginning to realize that they are paying for hundreds of channels that they never watch.
TV executives have been very slow to this idea and have for the most part responded to these customer requests by placing a growing number of restrictions on TV applications. Restrictions such as waiting extra days for new episodes, being only able to watch select episodes of select seasons and being required to buy expensive, bloated TV packages for any on-demand library.
TV executives continue to believe that by placing as many restrictions on cord-cutters, they will discourage people from not doing such a thing. In reality, it is simply allowing piracy to flourish and confusing customers with which networks have which agreements with which cable company in which city.
Still, recent developments show that TV providers are slowly trying to offer customers such package. Recently Verizon has begun offering a “Custom TV” package which starts at $55 a month with a select number of channels to pick from. Consumers can also add a selection of seven extra channel packs for $10 each, swapping or unsubscribing from any pack after 30 days.
But many TV providers and TV programmers continue to be under the belief that bundling is the way forward. One such group of programmers are the leaders of college athletics. As the Des Moines Register noted last week, the unbundling of cable television packages could cause the business model for college athletics to unravel.
Right now, most college sports conferences have signed TV deals netting them billions in yearly revenue. But now that ESPN has reportedly lost 3.2 million cable subscribers in a little over a year, some are wondering how negotiations are going to go in the next few years as conferences depend on rising payments (due to rising costs of major college sports) while TV networks will likely try to make cut backs to its programming.
Would people really pay $25, $35 or $50 a month for ESPN if packaging was unbundled? According to a survey conducted by Digitalsmiths, just 35.7 percent of customers would add ESPN to their cable a la carte menu. In fact, even with that low number, ESPN was the only sports network ranked among the top 25 in the survey.
Assuming we do move towards an unbundled TV model, college sports networks such as the Big Ten Network, SEC Network, etc….would then need to stand on its own to each paying customer.
To be fair, the chances of 100% unbundling is years away, imo. But if we did go towards this type of model, does anyone not see such a scenario causing a massive decline in subscribers to these college sports channels?