Fox COO Chase Carey: ‘A La Carte Cable is a Farce’

Fox COO Chase Carey: 'A La Carte Cable is a Farce'

Carey claims customers still want bundles

Customers who hope that cable companies will allow them to subscribe on a channel-by-channel basis need a reality check, 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey said Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

“A la carte cable is a farce,” Carey told the Wall Street heavy audience. ”People want bundles, they just want different bundles.”

In recent years, the pay TV industry has been buffeted by tense negotiations between cable companies and content creators over programming fees, leading to a series of blackouts in major media markets when talks break down. Each pulled signal, in turn, prompts calls for government action and an overhaul to the way that the TV industry is structured.

21st Century Fox maintains a suite of channels such as Fox News and FX that allows it to charge cable companies big fees for the rights to re-broadcast its content, so it clearly has a dog in the fight. For content creators, the current structure can be enormously lucrative because it enables them to package less popular channels with more desirable ones.

Also read: Why A La Carte Cable Could Kill TV's Golden Age

Professional allegiances aside, Carey said that the idea of a la carte is being used  by cable providers to “drag, in some manner, Washington into the discussion.”

If that is indeed the goal, that strategy has been partly successful. In recent months, Sen. John McCain has introduced legislation to allow customers to pick and choose the cable stations they subscribe to instead of forcing them to sign up for bundles, although his proposal has generated little traction and probably won't ever be voted on by the Senate.

Carey acknowledged that customers would like to pay less for cable, but said the costs of cable “looks good next to five-dollar lattes.”

Also read: John McCain Makes Case for A La Carte Cable During Wrap Q&A

He added that the debate around a la carte is a distraction, and argued that the focus by television industry should be on improving offerings that add value to the consumer experience such as “TV Everywhere,”  which allows user to access cable via mobile devices.

“TV Everywhere is the right path, but it has been poorly executed to date,” Carey said.

  • LoveThisBusiness

    Oh, please. Of course consumers want bundles. They just don't want bundles that are irrelevant and bloated with channels they'll never watch. Chase and cronies had better stop pooh-poohing (did I really just say that?) the future and get their act together. Otherwise, they'll be marginalized by disruptors who eat their lunch and offer consumers “chinese menus” that make sense in a connected world. Let's remember to go interview Chase in the Motion Picture Home in 15 years and remind him of this (characteristically) hyperbolic moment.

  • jhs39

    Basically he doesn't think cable is too expensive–he thinks they need to add more value to the cable package. That was the exact same thing Sony thought about the compact disc. When Warner Brothers tried to spearhead an effort to dramatically reduce CD prices and save the format Sony refused and instead offered new formats (first SACD then dualdisc) in an effort to keep people paying those really high prices. That didn't really work out so well for the CD, did it?

    These media companies are like frogs in a pot of slowly boiling water–their current system of bundling channels is killing the pay television industry as more and more people are priced completely out of the service and they have no plan whatsoever to bring cable rates down. Prices are just going to keep going up every year until they drive themselves out of business.

    Chase Carey knows that he's completely full of it and that customers do not want bundles. If he was so sure customer wanted bundles then customers should be allowed to purchase stations via hundred dollar plus bundles or a la carte. Which do you think they're going to choose?

  • Oh Pulleeze

    The arrogance and condescension of these people are unmatched; they live in an entirely different world than their customers. Carey doesn't hang with the people who pay his salary, nor do the “Content Creators” for that matter. I'm pretty sure if either of these entities are ever forced to pay too much to buy something they will never use, they will throw one of the hissiest-fits know to the modern world.

    As I recall, a man or business that has no customers does not succeed. It's been said here previously…go ahead and raise your prices beyond what your customers are willing to pay. See how far that gets you.

    Also, Karma can be a real bitch.

  • Radiomantx

    Sure I want a bundle, one that I can pick all the channels that go into it with no minimums. Is this guy some alien weirdo or something? People want to watch what they pay for and most of the crap in today's bundles are unwatchable. A La Carte is the way to go, NOW!

  • CJRB

    It is sad that we allow them to push this BS down our throats. Fox and “Carey” like others bundled would die without bundle packaging. As most would agree this is a number's game and they wouldn't have the numbers to make it in “A la carte” markets. Although, I believe the whole damn system of cable needs a reality check, but I guess thief isn't a crime as long as it's our government or another corporations doing the stealing? Then again consumers have been to pay for a lot of things we don't need, use or want.