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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar zic says:

    One potential benefit:

    With one mega-cable-distributor, the move from pre-programed content to on-demand content may speed. Or rather the shift from subscription to product selection for viewing.

    This, of course, may potentially put a ding in the plethora of cable viewing options that few bother to watch.Report

  2. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    I am typically very anti-merger since they typically reduce competition, but if Comcast and Time Warner don’t compete in any markets, it’s hard to see how it would.

    I think the merger might actually make net neutrality more likely for a couple of reasons:
    1. The FTC might make it a requirement for approval of the merger.
    2. It’d make Comcast-TimeWarner vulnerable to anti-trust lawsuits if they were to throttle Netflix. Throttling traffic from Netflix would almost certainly be anti-competitive that would wind up in the courts.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      As mentioned in the OP, Net Neutrality was a requirement of the previous Comcast merger so this would add NN to all current TWC. Until 2018, anyway. A result of this could be to push that date back. So that would sorta be a win.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    Will, it seems to me there are two sides to this business.

    First, is the infrastructure to deliver content to your screen. The second is content; the right to distribute that content over that infrastructure.

    In this way, the whole industry strikes me as most akin to electricity. The business model has been one of paying for content through cable subscription to pay for the infrastructure investments. This, to me, seems to be the problem. The equipment is a utility, and I think would be best regulated as a utility, with customers paying for access to the system. That would allow competition amongst content providers, leading to more on-demand, less packaging, etc.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Very good point, Zic. I have to admit a bit of skepticism for how it would work out for the customer (similar to my skepticism for a la carte channel requirements) but it’s not like the industry has been doing itself any favors in that regard.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Has anyone else wondered why there’s so much demand for a la carte pricing for television, just as that model is dying alone and unloved in the music industry? And I’ve never heard of anyone asking for a la carte Internet access.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        But internet access is a la carte. You only download what you want from the Internet, you don’t draw the whole thing onto your computer. And books and movies have always been a la carte.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Internet access doesn’t have a la carte pricing. You pay a single flat fee for access to the vast majority of web sites, regardless of how many you access. There are premium web sites, but there are also premium cable channels.

        Movies have traditionally had a la carte pricing, but that’s starting to change with buffet-style streaming video services like Hulu and Netflix. There’s also been talk of buffet-style eBook services. The reason these have traditionally been sold a la carte, I think, is that there has not until recently been a way to distribute them at close to zero marginal cost.Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

        @brandon-berg People seem to think that, with the current pricing model for cable, they are paying for many channels they do not watch. The hope is that, with a la carte pricing, they could only pay for the handful of channels they watch. However, it is entirely possible that a la carte pricing would result in the loss of niche channels if they did not have enough subscribers to be profitable, leading to fewer channels to choose from overall.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Has anyone else wondered why there’s so much demand for a la carte pricing for television…

        Because people think it’s going to be cheaper somehow. I suspect that most OT readers are atypical television viewers. How many simply sit down four evenings a week and channel surf? Cable networks negotiate not only per-sub price, but things like channel positioning, because casual viewership is important in determining how much you’ll be able to charge advertisers. Among other things, a la carte means that there are far fewer casual viewers; decreased ad revenue has to be offset somehow; most likely by charging a la carte viewers more than they charge the cable company; possibly a lot more.

        All those damned little ads the cable networks run down in the corner of the widescreen for their own upcoming content? Same deal. Maybe last night you hit FX’s Iron Man 2 showing*, and while Robert Downing Jr. doesn’t do much for you, the blurb down in the corner for Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight vinyl in one of the Underworld movies kept you from changing channels. So they got another half-a-dozen ad views they wouldn’t have gotten if you had surfed on by. More if you stayed on as a casual viewer of Kate.

        * I was tired and wanted someone else to do the work to occupy my attention so was flipping through the channel line-up once.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        What I find funny is that a lot of the same people who are mad that viewers are charged the same regardless of how many channels they watch… also got mad when ISPs talked of charging people based on how much Internet they used.Report