Rogers trials a la carte TV packages

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 02-11-2011

Rogers Communications is going forward with an a la carte TV packaging initiative at the behest of Canada’s broadcast regulator.
Subscribers will be able to start with a so-called “skinny” package and add channels at will for a personalised channel lineup.
“We think this Rogers-first is a very positive step forward for the industry and for consumers,” Rogers chief marketing officer, John Boynton, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our content providers to measure the results of this trial to ensure it works for everyone.”
Viewers in London, Ont., will be part of a four-month trial for the so-called “pick and pay” cable service. Starting with a baseline package of must-carry and other standard channels for $20 per month, users can then add on additional channels in groups of 15, 20 or 30.
The) is interested in expanding TV viewers’ choices in programming, following a widespread and increasingly vocal sentiment that existing cable packages provide too much filler. Hence the phenomenon of having 100 channels, and still there’s nothing to watch.
Canada has been out in front with a la carte TV, something that their American neighbours to the south are less willing to pioneer. Difficulties and expense in securing licensing for the content to be sold in such a way is one sticking point; a fear of descending ARPU is another. Also, moving popular premium channels to an a la carte menu would lessen the value of the upper-tier bundles.
But in Canada, such qualms are not preventing rollouts. In Quebec, both Vidéotron and BCE are offering a la carte programming. In Alberta, Telus is doing the same with its Optik TV service.