Verizon and Cablevision Support Unbundling Channels You Don’t Care About

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We’ve argued for years that you don’t need to pay for expensive cable packages. The cost, and the number of channels people don’t watch, just keeps rising. So we’ve documented the trend of people cutting the cord – and the bill.

About two years ago, Netflix surpassed the Comcast in customers. Netflix is still gaining (27.5 million at the end of 2012), and Comcast is still dropping (21.9 million). Now, a couple cable providers are finally tuning in and getting with the program.

The Washington Post reports Verizon and Cablevision are pushing content providers to lay off bundling unwanted channels. Focus the bundles on what people watch, they say.

The argument’s always been that bundling allows popular programs to subsidize less popular ones. In short: pay up or your favorite obscure show gets the ax. But if cable companies are starting to take the consumers’ side instead, things may finally change.

Verizon’s experimenting with ways to track what people watch. Cablevision is suing Viacom for forcing the company to package more than a dozen channels people don’t like, including VH1 and Logo, into bundles with popular ones like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

How does a content provider force a provider to do that? By penalizing them if they don’t buy and distribute all their channels. Last month Cablevision sued Viacom for forcing it to carry all Viacom’s programming, or pay more than a billion dollars in penalties. DirecTV, Time Warner and other cable companies have come out in support of the lawsuit.

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