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Are Cable Company Pay Models Traditional, or Just Plain Outmoded?

Thompson on Hollywood By Chris Dorr | Thompson on Hollywood June 2, 2014 at 3:02PM

Cable companies do not determine what you will watch nor do they charge you based on the content you watch. But some companies would like to change this.
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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

Cable companies operate two distinct lines of business.

Traditionally they bundle and resell linear TV networks.  The cable company feeds these networks into our homes and provides the interface that lists the content for our selection.  The cable company pays each network a fee for each subscriber.  The consumer pays a monthly fee to the cable company.

The cable companies also provide high speed Internet access, known as broadband.  With this service, they do not pay any content providers for their channels nor do they provide a guide to the content that flows through the pipes.  They move the bits requested by the consumer as well as those bits she sends back out to the Internet.  And the consumer pays a monthly fee to the cable company.

One service allows you to navigate and view a predetermined, pre-purchased bundle of linear channels. The other service gives you a pipe and access to an infinite array of content.

In its traditional business the cable company is the ultimate gatekeeper. It determines what you can see and what you will pay. 

With broadband, the gatekeeper role disappears. Cable companies do not determine what you will watch nor do they charge you based on the content you watch.  

Some cable companies would like to change this.

Read the rest of the story here.

This article is related to: Features, Television


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.