Why Are TV Channels Packaged?

Television providers have packages for various programming levels: basic, deluxe, and premium or by theme: movies, sports, music, and Spanish. This can be frustrating for consumers who may end up buying an entire package just to watch one channel or perhaps even one show.

Why is this? Why can’t we just buy the channels we want a la carte?

Although there’s a historical reason for this, there’s no longer any technical justification for bundling entertainment channels into packages.

With all service providers, every channel is present on the feed (be it cable, fiber optic, or satellite). When the feed reaches our houses, the items we don’t pay for are blocked.

When cable TV first came on the scene, it was analog and electronic devises were inserted to filter out various parts of the feed people weren’t paying for. These filters were imprecise and couldn’t be finely tuned to individual channels but did work okay for groups of adjacent channels. This resulted in the birth of channel packages.

Now we have digital and individual channels can be turned on and off at each house’s receiver. There’s no longer a technical reason to package channels and sell them as a group.

However, cable and satellite TV providers are used to the revenue provided by selling packages and not anxious to change that. Plus it’s easier to track and bill half a dozen packages for each subscriber, rather than hundreds of individual channels.

If entertainment providers were truly focused on their customers, they would allow for individual channel selection, letting us pick and pay for only the channels we want to watch.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!