For consumers, the hardest part in deciding on a pay TV service -- legacy or virtual -- is comparing different network/app packages. And the FCC wants to change that.
It's not just comparing a $39.99-a-month package for say 100 cable TV network channels, with a $69.00 one that has 200 channels -- with, say, HBO or Showtime added in as well as six months free of a regional sports network.
But it also gets confusing when also considering going all digital/virtual -- buying into a streaming distributor (say, Roku) when adding in streaming apps and/or whether to buy digital antenna to get free over the air stations.
Wait, there is more.
Under a recent headline in a popular TV business trade: “FCC Proposes Mandating ‘All-In’ Cable Video Price Disclosure,” there was another headline touting this: “Apple Puts ’Friday Night Baseball’ Behind the $6.99-a-Month Apple TV Plus Paywall.”
There is an ad
There is an ad
Hmm... So that latter was free last season “for a limited” time, but now you’ll need to subscribe to Apple TV+ for $6.99/month?
It's about nickel-and-diming you. It might be about 7-dollar timing.
Apple TV+ isn’t regulated by the FCC -- but legacy TV-video platforms are. We are mixing apples and oranges for a reason here: There is growing concern that all this is making media consumers exhausted -- and that can be unfair, and less than transparent.
The cable TV industry has been around to a substantial degree since the early 1980s -- about 50 years or so. But it seems clarity of marketing with their products remains an issue.
Some would say that less regulation is necessary.
Perhaps consumers need to do the work themselves -- let the marketplace decide. Perhaps all this might mean new business opportunities for, say, a third-party TV channel consumer broker consultant.
The bottom line is that we know where this story started --band how it is ending: A legacy cable/satellite/telco pay TV business now slowing or retreating due to rising streaming and all things connected TV.
Maybe it should have listened to consumers' cries decades ago about wanting to get just the channels they want -- a la carte cable TV network shopping. Consumers typically watch -- at best -- 10-15 networks.
Well, indeed, the new digital video and connected TV marketplace -- at least for this moment -- has forced a decision for those legacy TV providers.
How much is that?