Why not? I think it’s because nobody who makes most of their money on advertising wants to see consumers become customers. Viacom, for example, is primarily in the advertising business. The programming they sluice down channels to consumers is just bait. Most of what they sell is best-guess numbers. They can’t begin to think about selling programming directly to viewers or listeners, partly because that’s not their business, but mostly because they don’t want advertisers to know specifics about actual viewing and listening – such as how often people tune away from advertising, or skip over it with their TiVos. Meanwhile the cable and satellite services are mostly in the business of satisfying habits.
But speaking as a consumer who would rather be a customer, a la carte is what I’d like. I think that’s exactly where we’re headed in the long run. And that the inevitability of advertising loss is the deeper issue behind the dispute between EchoStar and Viacom. That loss is will be felt on the supply side, by Viacom.
I think 95% of viewers would welcome being able to choose what channels they get and paying only for them. But the Viacom’s of the World don’t have any incentive to give it to them. Here’s a list of the channels I watch or want:
- Local over the air channels (get it via antenna now anyway)
- ESPN/ESPN2 (for MLS games although I might get the MLS DirectKick package this season.)
- Comedy Central – for the Daily Show.
- Fox Sports World, Fox Sports World Espanol
- ESPN Deportes
And that’s pretty much it…