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Pick and Pay Decision Impact? Who Knows.

There’s a lot of press on the CRTC’s pick and pay decision and a lot of different opinions on what it means for consumers and for the broadcast industry. I’m reluctant to throw in my 2 cents but here goes.

Only time will tell.

During the Talk TV public hearing there were a lot of studies submitted on the potential impact of unbundling. Many of them had differing opinions on consumer behaviour because of the variables at play. To what extent would the CRTC require unbundling and if it did, how would the cable and satellite companies price their individual services or packages? How would consumers react to their options? No one could (or should have) concretely said ‘if channels are unbundled, the consumer will do x and the result will be y’.

And we still don’t know.

Here’s what we do know. The cable and satellite companies have until March 2016 to implement a skinny basic at $25 that includes local channels, mandatory carriage channels (e.g. CPAC and APTN), educational channels and provincial legislature channels. It ‘could’ include the big U.S. networks but must be sold at no more than $25 per month. On top of that they must offer either the opportunity to pick and pay for individual channels or small packages that they either build or are themed. By December 2016 cable and satellite companies must offer both individual and small package choices on top of skinny basic.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • How much will individual services have to cost when sold on their own
  • How much will they cost in build your own or themed packages
  • Will US networks be included in skinny basic or will you have to pay extra for them
  • How will the US specialty services react to pick and pay.  At the public hearing some threatened to cancel contracts due to breach if pick and pay was implemented. The CRTC is hoping that they will be ‘good corporate citizens’ and play along.
  • How many people will opt for skinny basic and a few other channels and will they be cord shavers or cord cutters re-entering the system?
  • How many people will only pick U.S. services on top of skinny basic once they are given that opportunity
  • How many smaller Canadian specialty services will have to shut down because their paying audience is too small

We won’t know what this means for the industry until the cable and satellite companies start to market the new offerings (possibly later this year) and consumers react to it and the dominoes start to fall. Or not.

One thing I do have to note is that it appears that the CRTC has given the Conservatives an election gift. It has provided them with the opportunity to say ‘look, we gave you cheaper cable bills’ before unbundling is implemented and the consumer has a chance to say, as may be the case, ‘no you didn’t’.  That could be completely unintentional but it cannot have been unexpected.

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Kelly Lynne Ashton

Kelly Lynne has over twenty years of experience on the business side of Canadian film, television and digital media as an entertainment lawyer.She took a slight departure to produce children’s digital media. When it was time for something new, moved back to business affairs but now in film, television and digital media. More recently she discovered that all along her true calling was as a Canadian media policy wonk. Now she assists clients with research projects, policy and strategy development, government and government agency submissions and social media consulting.
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6 thoughts on “Pick and Pay Decision Impact? Who Knows.”

  1. Do I have this right? CBC News Network has 11.3 million subscribers paying $0.63 a month. If all that money is passed on to the CBC that’s $85 million / year. My read of the CRTC Pick n Pay decision is that CBC News Network is not part of skinny basic in English majority Canada (It is in English minority Canada). So if a whole bunch of people drop CBC NN that could blow a multi-multi-million dollar whole in CBC budget.

  2. Yes, that’s right. So the big question is how many people are subscribing to CBC News Network only because it’s in their Extended Basic package but don’t actually want it. Or might take it in a themed news pack. Or like me would actually pay individually for it because they value it. No idea.

    1. I watch CBC Newsworld every morning when I’m getting ready for work BUT I wouldn’t subscribe to it because there’s online news as an alternative. I didn’t even think CBC Newsworld wouldn’t be on the skinny basic. Isn’t it considered an extension of CBC?

  3. and here’s another factor,no one is talking about….Francophone Communites from Nunavut,Yukon,NWT,B.C.,Alberta,Sasketchewan,Manitoba,Ontarians outside of the Ottawa/Hull region,most parts of New Brunswick save for the very Northren parts of the Province,Prince Edward Island,Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador don’t get TVA or V Tele via antenna or via cable within the Ottawa/Hull region or Quebec who now have to pay for channels offered once as apackage or packages such as TV5,Unis,RDI,TFO,Tele-Quebec,ARTV among others plus if your Rogers and all that money spent on NHL rights now gets more expensive in that with no New Brunswick,Nova Scotia,Prince Edward Island or NL/Labrador local stations,the ability of selling advertisers on a “National” reach for the game dwindles greatly if cable and satellite subscribers skip CityTV as part of a Pick and Pay package,and this is but,two examples of the problems with this Skinny Cable/Pick and Pay idea

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