CUSTOMER DISSERVICE: Can cable hold off the demand for a la carte?

Don’t look now but your cable television bundle is breaking your bank. That sizable bill that tips the scales at or around $200 seems like the status quo when it comes to cable television, phone and internet service through your local provider. Sure, some companies will give you a decent promotional deal if you start new service or switch, for example, from Comcast to Verizon FIOS or vice versa. Beyond that initial special buy or introductory offer, the cable industry is loving life, and some would argue at your expense. Literally.

The slow and steady rise of alternative methods of television from the likes of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and specialized programming from the WWE Network or Major League Baseball haven’t usurped cable’s stranglehold on the communications and entertainment industry, but it has given customers a reason to start rethinking how they spend their money on cable TV and internet. The savvier and less complacent crowd isn’t afraid to start shopping around and mixing and matching services, like perhaps going bare bones with cable, adding internet and then buying the $8 per month Netflix as a means to enjoy movies. The consumer is starting to realize that with great buying power comes great responsibility to their own bank account. In short, they’re slowing starting to ask cable to listen to their demands.

Perhaps the most common discussion from customer to cable is the need to break up these bothersome bundles and start selling television the way a vendor sells hot dogs: one at a time. Realistically, the cable industry would likely lose way too much money to start giving customers free reign over how they buy. That doesn’t mean the consumers who are asking for this can’t dream, right? It would be quite the welcoming change of pace if the average customer would tell their cable company that all they really watch is network television, and throw in an ESPN and USA Network, and a little Lifetime for the wife and Nickelodeon for the kids. Any chance you’ll see the cable a la carte system? This probably won’t happen in our lifetime, but the mounting pressure from satellite and streaming services might expedite this process.

Truthfully, cable needs to broaden their thought process and think about how consumers ultimately would buy channels if they could pick and choose at their convenience. Who knows, maybe if cable simply offered paying per channel as an option, consumers might be so overjoyed they’ll end up buying just as much, or more, than if they didn’t have this as a choice? That’s called giving customers what they want and them returning the favor in the form of loyalty to the product. Maybe if those same consumers look at cable through a different set of eyes, they’ll be more inclined to stay put or return as customers.

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