Three Burning Questions About Pick and Play

There’s a new trend that is quickly rising in popularity in the cable television industry: A-la-carte programming, a system that is also being referred to as “pick and play.”

What is pick and play programming? Just as it sounds, it’s a system that lets customers personalize their own television offerings. It’s an alternative to the traditional programming model long offered by cable operators, where customers were given large, fixed monthly channel lineups.

All signs indicate that large, inflexible monthly cable packages are a model of the past. Cable operators are now encouraged to “slim down” by offering fewer channels per month, while also giving customers the ability to pick and choose what they want.

Here are some questions that customers have recently been asking about pick and play programming:

Is it fully-customizable? The majority of companies implementing new pick and play models are basically offering small packs of bundled offerings, where customers can select what packs they want but not the individual channels. For example, a customer may select “sports,” “children” and “movies.” With this type of system, customers can switch bundles on a monthly basis. In some cases, customers can add specific channels for an extra monthly fee. In a true a la carte fashion, customers would be able to select individual channels on a monthly basis.

Will it damage by business model? Far from it! It’s simply a flexible, customer-centric alternative to the standard approach of offering a fixed, megalithic selection of channels.  But it doesn’t have to be a replacement. You can offer customers both options, and allow them to select the solution that works best for them. Rather than damage your business model, it will enhance it.

Is it profitable? Consider the alternative solution: If you don’t offer your customers increased flexibility, they’ll look elsewhere for it—either online via over-the-top (OTT) content, or from another provider. The key to profiting from pick and play is to partner with a cable management provider that can allow customers to quickly and efficiently adjust their cable packages without running into any customer service issues (like delayed content, or system malfunctions).

It should also be noted that the Canadian national broadcast regulator recently made a decision to require Canadian broadcast companies to offer pick and play services by as soon as December, 2016. So if you are a Canadian broadcast provider, it’s time to start looking into ways that you can implement this requirement. This decision should also have a big impact on the U.S. cable market, as an increasing number of consumers begin to see the benefits and demand the same type of services.

So, how do you feel about pick and play content delivery? Tell us your thoughts!