In the last 24 hours, HBO and CBS have announced services you can pay for which will allow you to watch their shows and behind-the-scenes filler without a cable/satellite subscription. Some see this as the first step towards a la carte television, where you only pay for what you want, instead of the other 926 channels the provider shoves down the line to your house.
But Alan Sepinwall says you should be careful what you ask for. Not only will the individual services in the aggregate be pricier than the bundle, but the financial impact on “unwanted” channels could keep great television from being created in the future:
Keep in mind that the current environment has also allowed channels like FX, AMC and Sundance to exist long enough for them to develop programs that viewers cared passionately about. If a la carte cable existed in the mid-’00s, I sure wouldn’t have bothered subscribing to AMC, and maybe the channel would have simply gone out of business before “Mad Men” was created — or wouldn’t have had enough of a subscriber base for that show to survive.