Thursday, November 29, 2007

Packers vs Cowboys and One of the Biggest Political Issues of the 2008 Election

Tonight the Packers will play the Cowboys in one of the biggest games of the year in the NFL but it won't have close to the TV audience you would expect for a game of this magnitude. That is because the game will be on the NFL Network and not many cable operating companies offer the NFL Network to their customer bases. The dispute between the cable companies and the NFL basically comes down to the NFL wanting their network to be part of the basic cable package while the cable companies insisting that the NFL Network be a "pay" channel or part of a premium sports package.

I want to watch this game tonight but I cannot because my cable company does not offer the NFL Network. I am not alone. I want to watch this game and would love to have the NFL Network as a choice among my cable channels. I am not alone. I have four shopping channels, three Spanish language channels, and dozens of other channels that I do not want but am forced to subsidize as part of my basic cable TV package. I am not alone. I am not happy about this situation and once again I am not alone.

In fact I bet if you asked anyone whether they would prefer to pay only for the cable TV channels they want to watch and not be forced to subsidize packages of channels that could not survive on their own - better than 90% of people would opt for the "ala carte" version of picking individual channels. That better than 90% would be across political party lines - both Democrats, Republicans and Independents. This is an issue that everyone could agree on but politicians are not jumping on because (I guess) they do not want to alienate the cable TV special interest groups (and the money they donate to campaigns).

If you can order a movie on demand and have VCR-type controls (pause, rewind, fast forward) while watching that movie - then your cable company has the technology already in place to offer ala carte cable choice. To me this is such a no-brainer political issue that I am amazed that no major candidate has taken up the banner to lead the charge for cable choice. It would be an immensely popular position.

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