Dear Cable TV Executives,

by Steve McKee

Dear Cable TV ExecutivesI don’t want 300 channels. I only want 18 channels. OK, the average person wants 18 channels. I really only want six. Why can’t I have just six?

I know, I know, it’s the economics of the industry. But industries change, don’t they? I mean, look what has happened to the music industry. I used to have to purchase an entire CD just to get the one or two songs I want, but now I can buy and build my own playlists song by song. It’s funny, but I’m sure I spend more on music now than I used to.

You should know I just bought an Apple TV box. That’s not your fault – since the Blockbuster Video stores near me closed (and RedBox, while cool, doesn’t exactly offer a huge selection) I didn’t really have a good option for renting movies. So I thought it was worth a try. Now I can select from a huge selection of movies and TV shows, and when I’m not in a buying mood I can use it to watch YouTube on my HDTV. I’m beginning to think of YouTube as the ultimate TV network – there’s so much on-demand entertainment there. (Hmm. You might want to make a note of that.)

Speaking of entertainment, I’ve held off on getting a Kindle because I knew Apple was coming out with a similar device. I’m excited to get my iPad, not only to check my email and surf the web but to download books. I guess Apple is shaking up the book publishing industry just like it did the music industry. “Saving it” is probably a more accurate description; I’m sure my book purchasing behavior will mirror my new music buying habits. I wonder if they’re thinking along the same lines when it comes to TV. I guess time will tell.

So if you don’t mind, I’d like to subscribe to individual cable channels. For that matter, I wouldn’t mind subscribing to individual programs. I know you won’t get as hefty of a monthly fee from me, but I’d be willing to pay more per network than you’re getting now. And I suspect other people would be too.

Anyway, it’s something to think about. But no pressure. If you don’t do it, I’m sure I can find other things to do with my time and money.

Editors Note: I’m with you Steve. I’ve got limited cable because I don’t have much time to watch television. When I really want to watch something specific I can get it online. Cable TV is going to face much the same problem that fixed line phone service faces now (declining subscriber #’s). And, if more and more networks develop their own ‘apps’ for a variety of mobile or IP platforms (Apple TV, iPhone, Blackberry, iPad FloTV, etc.), it’s only going to accelerate.

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Steve McKeeSteve McKee is a BusinessWeek.com columnist, marketing consultant, and author of “When Growth Stalls: How it Happens, Why You’re Stuck, and What To Do About It.” Learn more about him at www.WhenGrowthStalls.com and at http://twitter.com/whengrowthstall.

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  1. everyone wants their channels they watch and nothing else but guess what if that happens how many networks do you think will survive. if everyone pays just for the channels they want alot of the small networks will go under because there won"t be enough subscribers to it. are you willing to lost 3 or more of your favorite channels to save a few bucks a month.

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