Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A la carte cable: Turns out people don’t love ESPN that much after all

It’s been a slow and steady march toward the unbundling of cable TV packages. Americans’ desire for individual choice will gradually demolish their individual choices, as the ability to pick and chose which channels to pay for has long been seen as a death knell (or at least a debilitating injury) for the lesser-watched channels on your TiVo listings. But which channels would suffer the most? Obviously, we all know nobody watches Fuse. (Even Billy On The Street is jumping ship.) But as it turns out, a certain other sports channel also isn’t the unstoppable juggernaut we all thought it was. Variety reports that a new survey, listing which channels customers would pay for if they could pick and choose, rates ESPN much lower than anticipated.

According to Digitalsmiths, a TiVo-owned research company, only 35.7 percent of cable subscribers would want ESPN—the smarmy jock of channels— added to their personal lineup of handpicked stations. That ranks the cable network 20th in the survey, behind Discovery Channel at 62 percent, History Channel at 57 percent, and—most sunnily—behind the Weather Channel’s 39.9 percent. Once more, it appears jocks’ arrogant belief that everyone loves them is undercut by the reality of most folks being kind of annoyed by them.


Despite the harm it will do to many of the channels lower in the rankings, the financial benefit for customers is obvious. Currently, the largest percentage of subscribers pay an average of $125 a month, with a good portion paying upwards of $150 monthly. The study makes the case that consumers’ ideal compilation of channels—approximately 17 total—would run them an average of $38 a month. That’s a good three to four extra bottles of whiskey we could be drinking every 30 days!

Although, it’s worth noting the unsurprising fact that a study done by a TiVo-owned company is reporting findings favorable to TiVo’s business plan of catering to cord-cutters in the future, especially now that they’ve acquired the TV streaming service Aereo, and want to relaunch it. And frankly, just because we didn’t include Animal Planet in our initial list of preferred channels doesn’t mean we don’t want to binge-watch Too Cute! every now and then.

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