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Study: I want my a la carte TV

American TV viewers want to be able to choose and pay for just channels they desire rather than a large bundle of television networks typically offered today by traditional pay TV services like cable, satellite and telco television providers, according to a new report from global entertainment research firm MarketCast.

The study, entitled “TV Re-Packaged: How Viewers See the Future of the Medium,” finds a la carte television packages are in high demand because viewers only wish to pay for the content they want to watch.

The study found having access to television on an a la carte basis ranked second only to low cost when survey respondents were asked to describe their ideal package of television service. A little more than half of respondents who have “cut the cord” and disconnected from traditional pay TV service did so because they no longer wanted to pay for channels they don’t watch.

However, these cord-cutters expressed frustration at having to maintain multiple subscriptions with services like Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu, the study found. Among those who haven’t cut the cord, such “disaggregating” and paying multiple bills were the biggest impediments to them ditching traditional pay-TV service.

While about 40 percent of those currently subscribed to pay TV service say they are “extremely” or “very likely” to cut the cord in the future, cancellation of subscriptions anytime soon does not appear likely. Seventy percent say their bundled TV package, which can include Internet and telephone service, is a strong tie with their existing provider.

Of those who are considering cutting the cord, 60 percent say they lack the conviction to follow through, according to the study.

The availability of premium channels, such as HBO and Showtime, offered as standalone services would likely nudge some to cut the cord. According to the findings, 27 percent would “definitely” cut the cord and just subscribe to the premium offerings if such packages were made available.

Whether or not these changes happen anytime soon, consumers see a sea change developing in TV content distribution. The study found that while only 25 percent of consumers think traditional TV service subscribers are in the minority today, 53 percent think traditional TV subscribers will be in the minority in five years.

“There is an air of inevitability about cord cutting among TV viewers,” said MarketCast senior director and study author Chris Rethore. “Even among cord keepers, those most dedicated to the television status quo, there is a clear expectation that in just a few years, those who subscribe to traditional television service as we know it today will be in the minority.”

The study is based on the findings of an online survey of 1200 U.S. television viewers, 18 to 49 years old.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.