September 28, 2011, 10:02 AM — After years of fighting the idea of offering a la carte service- or product menus, cable TV operators (ISPs) are planning to switch positions and ask the FCC to let them give customers the option of buying one service (TV channel or specialized Internet function) at a time.
Until now cable TV providers such as Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon all insisted that the only way they could stay financially stable, and allow all those hundreds of independent and semi-independent channels to stay alive was to boil down all the potential iterations of their service offerings into just two or three bundles that include all the channels a customer would want at that price except one or two.
For most people that meant having to upgrade to a service level that's too expensive – because BBC America isn't available on the mid-priced plan and you'd never hear the end of it if the kids couldn't watch Dr. Who all weekend.
A la carte pricing would let customers choose and pay for only the channels they wanted,theoretically giving them far more control over what they spend every month while eliminating the need to scroll through dozens of channels they may literally never use at all in order to get to the ones they watch all the time.
There's a catch in the way the carriers view “a la carte,” however.