Forum Discussion

Captain_Starbuc's avatar
New Contributor
4 years ago

What is the reason for bundles of networks versus ala carte?

OK, probably not technical, but I'm looking for community understanding on this topic.

From the very beginning of all cable services in the 80's, there have been bundles where some number of networks are pre-packaged together for some monthly amount. But there's only so much TV we can watch and often just a small selection of channels that we actually want. I might want 4 specific stations, and I'm very willing to pay for them. But they are only offered in bundles of 40+. Or worse, there might be 3 of those in one package of 40 and the other one in some other package of 20.

Why has this industry never adopted an ala carte model where we only pay for what we use?

Why don't networks insist on having their offering de-bundled so that we can pay for their services without having to lump them into a collection with others that we don't care about?

Just in the name of survival, with streaming services and mobile apps providing more option for personalized programming, why hasn't Cox changed their model? Why do they prefer 100% of $0, when they can get some% of their pre-defined bundle pricing?

If we ask Cox for a custom bundle of some number of specific channels, might they agree to sell us just what we want? Or are the pre-decided packages absolutely the only way to do business with Cox TV?

Is there actually some technical reason why the boxes need to have access to specific ranges or numbers of channels? (I doubt it but need to ask)

Do networks have a hand in determining the tiers in which they are bundled?

Why are HBO and Showtime (and maybe a few others) the only examples of premium channels for individual activation? Why can't they All be sold with the same model?

For the reason discussed here, we dropped Cox TV years ago. We pay for internet service, nothing more. But I'm happy to pay for what we consume. I want to give Cox my money for what I want. I do not want to give them More money for things I do not want - if we add a station, we'll pay the advertised price. That's the common model everywhere except for cable TV.

Addiction being what it is, I'm sure that with this model we would probably get many stations. Or that we would want to pay for specific Live events. It's possible that we would want something like 20 stations, matching one of their bundles, but they would be the stations that WE want, not the ones that Cox wants to bundle themselves.

Thanks for thoughts or solid information.

4 Replies

  • Hi Captain, thanks for your post. You've asked great questions! The answer to nearly all of your questions is The Networks.

    The Networks have all the control. The Networks press the bundle model.

    To the best of our ability, while working within contract and programming agreements with each network, Cox created new channel packages to meet customers’ requests for fewer channels. We've also expanded our library of free apps in addition to the subscription-based streaming apps available through the Contour video platform. Did you know that we also offer a streaming-only option for folks who don't want a traditional channel lineup? Go to to learn more.

    I'm with you, Captain! I'd like to see changes in the television industry just as you've suggested. The industry is moving in the right direction; albeit slowly.
    -Becky, Cox Support Forums Moderator

  • Bruce's avatar
    Honored Contributor III

    If you've survived on only the Internet, don't look back.  Cable TV continues to be the worst value for your money and it isn't getting any better.  It's overpriced, underwhelming and providers pass their costs of doing business onto us.  You've already got it figured with everything you've cited:  business models, greed and addiction.

    • Superbigwaff's avatar

      bruce  Word. I "cut the cord" over a decade ago and haven't looked back. HD OTA channels look great. If I want to watch something not broadcast OTA, I'll sign up for YouTube TV or the like for a month (i.e. NCAA Tourney, etc). HBO Max and Disney+ are great values.

      • Bruce's avatar
        Honored Contributor III

        I may be joining your pioneering team soon.  I've been logging my viewing habits lately, and it seems I only watch 2 channels...and Music Choice is the most dominant.

        If I can get a lowly-produced news source, ad-free music service and maybe HBO; I'd be all set.