I've described how , when they moved Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel off the expanded basic cable.
Now, if you want to wallow in wonderful classics, you must "upgrade" to a digital box.
I pointed out who represent a core viewership for TCM. They will have to deal with the cable company, a digital box, extra coaxial cable and another remote control device.
And what's behind it all?
Greed, because cable television companies make their money in three ways:
- The largest is charging customers for the service.
- The second is selling commercials.
- The third way is a small cut on items sold by shopping channels.
So, charging for cable—we get the bill every cycle.
Then, getting a percentage of items sold on shopping channels—that's why QVC, The Home Shopping Network, JTV, and ShopNBC are all offered on the cheapest cable service offered by Charter.
But let's look at the selling commercials factor. Cable companies can sell ads to local businesses at a fraction of the cost of major network affiliates. Smaller audience, but local audience.
But TCM, the movie channel, is commercial-free. There is no place for Charter Communications to drop in a local ad.
Turner Classic Movies sells subscriptions to its monthly Movie Guide, but Charter does not apparently get a cut of that action.
So despite the fact that Turner Classic Movies may be a favorite with Charter’s most stable customer base—people over the age of 55—Charter went ahead and made the channel more difficult and costly to get.
This group of customers may also be the least likely to switch providers—to satellite TV, DISH Network or AT&T.
So here's how Charter rewards loyalty—take away a favorite channel.
Charter Cable on notice
The bank manager at a Lindell Bank and Trust branch (one of the few remaining St. Louis banks) told me recently that every time a competing bank from out of town sends a letter to St. Louis customers about new rules increasing the minimum balance for “free” checking, he picks up 10 or 20 new customers. I could see this happening to Charter.
You think Charter would have been smarter. Currently, the area’s cable giant is getting heavy competition from AT&T U-Verse and some very clever ads by a satellite TV provider.
If you thought Charter might do something to hold on to longtime customers, (like those who watch TCM) you’d be wrong.
After last week’s debate over TCM's demise on Charter expanded basic, several people emailed me and said in the next few years all cable systems are going to upgrade and require digital boxes. Who knows?
However, my point is the channels favored by the oldest of the viewers and those on fixed incomes should not be the first to be "upgraded." They should be the last.