Ever wondered why you need 1,000 channels on your TV? Well, aside from the reality that you simply don’t need all of that programming, it’s standard practice for network owners to bundle channels together to cable operators so the owners can sell more ads. That’s how you end up with MTV and BET when all you really need is Comedy Central—they’re all Viacom channels—or Disney when you just want ESPN.
However, with online streaming hurting cable in a trickle-down way—networks make less ad revenue, forcing operators to pay more to carry their channels—operators the likes of Time Warner and Comcast are fighting back with the previously unthinkable approach of offering customers the option to pay for individual channels. The plan is obviously facing opposition from network conglomerates such as Viacom, but if consumer trends continue towards streaming, someone’s hand will soon be forced.