Americans prefer picking TV channels to buying bundles: Reuters/Ipsos

Thu May 7, 2015 3:24pm EDT
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - A vast majority of Americans would prefer to assemble their own pay TV channels rather than subscribe to packages that include dozens or hundreds of networks, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found in a challenge to traditional television distribution.

Seventy-seven percent of U.S. adults said they would like "a la carte pricing" which would allow consumers to pick their own channels. Only 23 percent said they would prefer bundles. (For a graphic see

Media companies and distributors that provide satellite, broadband and cable services are struggling to find ways to keep viewers from ditching traditional subscriptions and attract a younger generation, which sees less need for a cable subscription and watches on computers and mobile devices.

"I pay for a lot of channels that are not of interest to me," said poll respondent Charles Bourque, 63, who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.

He does not want the Russian and Spanish networks that he gets as a Comcast subscriber, paying north of $200 a month. He does not speak either language.

Verizon tested the waters for a product offering more customization last month when it rolled out a Custom TV plan with 36 fixed channels and the choice of adding small bundles related to sports, children or news. That was seen as a step toward a la carte.

Twenty-First Century Fox and Comcast's NBC Universal both said the offer violates the terms of their contracts that allow Verizon to carry their programming.

Walt Disney's ESPN took the same stance and launched a lawsuit against Verizon, claiming the distributor breached the terms of their deal.   Continued...