We may be a long way from à la carte TV, but cable companies are getting noticeably looser with their content bundles.
The Stop the Cap site has discovered that Time Warner Cable is now pitching a "Starter TV" package for only $19.99 per month for the first year. The deal is advertised as including more than 20 stations of programming including "popular networks and local TV channels." Equally as interesting, Time Warner is promoting a second package called "Starter TV with HBO" that includes the same channel line-up plus HBO access for a monthly fee of only $29.99.
Basic cable TV tiers have expanded significantly in recent years as measured both by price tag and channels included. Traditionally, HBO has also only been added on to premium content bundles. Both trends, however, are showing signs of reversing. In another example, Comcast recently introduced the Internet Plus and Blast Plus services tiers. Both combine a basic TV line-up with VoD, HBO, and the StreamPix video service. In a twist, Comcast also packages in broadband service for as low as $49.99 monthly for the first six months. (See Comcast Set to Bundle Broadband & HBO.)
Most customers for the Time Warner service will reportedly get local broadcast networks, a handful of Spanish-language stations, C-SPAN, several home shopping channels and TBN. Given the disastrous results in the company's latest quarterly earnings report, the service shake-up doesn't come as a major surprise. Time Warner is under heavy pressure to reverse subscriber losses and make itself attractive for sale or merger. (See TW Cable Hemorrhages Subs.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable