TV viewers have had many expectations from the new packages, however their hopes could be short lived and the new package looks like it will actually cause some disappointments among those who were seeking to take advantage of it.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is the regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications, had mandated that cable providers should provide a ‘skinny’ package which will provide basic viewing consisting of local stations and a handful of mandatory channels, for no more than $25 a month.
TV viewers have had many expectations from the new packages, however their hopes could be short lived and the new package looks like it will actually cause some disappointments among those who were seeking to take advantage of it, as there seem to be many wrong presumptions floating around. Here are some reasons why the new package could disappoint you:
No big changes
There are no huge changes seen in the package offered in Quebec. Videotron is the main market player in Quebec and the company has offered its version of the package with additional channels at extra price for many years. So this is not a really new phenomenon here. Hence, the company does not really have to completely overhaul the way it operates. There $25 skinny basic plan is actually very similar to the old plan. There are some differences. CBC News Network is available in the package, due to an order that news networks should be available in minority language communities. However RDI is not included. In other provinces the reverse is done, while RDI is mandatory CBC News is not included in their skinny basic package. Also Stingray music channels are not included in the basic package. Another difference would be that Montreal’s basic package would not include CJOH, Granby and Sherbrooke would not be able to access Canal Savoir with just the package, and Gatineau would not have access to most Montreal stations.
You still have to pay set-top box rental, installation fees and taxes
This would seem a no-brainer. However some people seemed to have wrongly presumed that the customers choosing skinny basic packages would not have to pay rental and the charge included taxes. Like other packages, customers of the skinny package too would have to shell out extra monthly fees for the TV receiver, or box rental and HD channels. The CRTC has clearly mentioned that the $25 is for the programming only. A set top box could have monthly rental fees of between $5 and $10 depending on the service provider. New customers would have to pay extra installation charges.
No deals and discounts for those who choose the skinny package
Companies are aiming to make the skinny starter package look as unattractive as possible so that customers would choose their pricier deals. There will be almost no deals offered for those choosing the basic package and you can forget all about discounts. For those who don’t choose the skinny basic package, companies could offer various attractive discounts occasionally and also include deals such as free equipment rental, new customer discounts and customer retention discounts
Popular channels could be more expensive
If you were looking forward to buying only TSN and Sportsnet separately and take a basic package, then you are going to be disappointed. You need to pay $50 to buy the 10 channel package which includes these if you are a Videotron customer. Shaw customers however can add them separately with the basic package for $8 each or $12 for both. The cost of add on channels are not regulated by the CRTC, which means the most popular channels could also be the most expensive channels.
Keeping your old package could actually be cheaper
If you are someone who watches various channels and don’t like the idea of only having a few basic channels, but was planning on getting the basic package anyway and pay for extra channels separately, then it makes more sense to actually just keep our old package. Think of it like shopping in bulk at a grocery chain, the more you buy the less the unit cost.
Some channels could cease to exist
Independent channels don’t have free advertising on CTV, Global or TVA. The channels like Vision, OUTtv and iChannel could face a threat to their existence. While the CRTC regulations do encourage providers to showcase the channels, the drop in number of subscribers to these channels could make it difficult for them to thrive in a difficult economic environment.
Some channels’ quality of content may become low
Channels may have some good shows during the prime time slot, but the rest of the day could feature reruns or less impressive content. Some channels could have only one or two good shows that you want to watch but you would have to subscribe for that particular channel anyway.
TV viewing market will change
Will the add-ons and HD channels make the TV viewing scenario different? What content are the viewers actually going to prefer paying for? Will everyone just stick to the basic package and forget all about the other channels? Are channels going to be expensive or will they be much cheaper to attract more subscribers?
The TV viewing market will change making it difficult for advertisers as well. While it is obvious that the skinny basic package is not good financially for the TV providers, it remains to be seen what will happen to the TV market.