Cable Ops: We Want More Video Packaging Options

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Cable operators at a conference here said the multichannel video business is in need of more creative packaging to give consumers options other than the all-you-can-eat expanded basic offerings consumers find too expensive and restrictive.

"We've got to respond to what the consumer wants," David Cohen, executive vice president at Comcast, said. "We have a very good ability to be able to design more choice for consumers but that still makes the economics work for the content producers."

Comcast, he said, has begun rolling out a "My Choice" offering, with a 55- to 60-channel package supplemented with additional "modules" of channels in themes  such as news and information, kids, entertainment or movies. (For details, see this link.)

Cohen spoke on the opening panel session at the New England Cable & Telecommunications Association annual convention here, with Cox Communications president Patrick Esser and Jim Bruder, the chairman and CEO of Frazer, Pa.-based Harron Communications, which like Comcast and Cox provides cable service (as Metrocast) in New England.

Esser and Bruder agreed cable companies need to be able to package video offerings differently. Bruder said Harron's $75 expanded-basic offer is headed toward $100 with rising costs for cable and broadcast channels, "and that's a tough pill to swallow."

Asked by CNBC host Ron Insana if cable was headed toward having to offer popular shows on an a la carte basis, Esser said, "I just don't think it's either-or. I think there are packages that can be done in thoughtful ways. We do need to give our customers more choice. They want more choice on top of access."

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