updated 08:50 pm EST, Thu November 18, 2010
Offering not said to be aimed at cord cutters
Time Warner Cable is reportedly testing a new cable package, "TV Essentials," that will serve as a cheaper, bare-bones alternative to the company's current offerings. The new package will exclude several major networks such as Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Subscribers can still access local stations and 12 of the top 20 cable networks.
Amid discussions of "cord cutting," a reference to customers terminating their cable service in favor of content available online, Time Warner suggests the Essentials package is simply geared for low-income customers feeling the effects of a recession economy.
"A lot of people are under pretty serious economic stress," said company CEO Glenn Britt, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "The public would like to have more choice and have the option of paying for less programming."
The executive also hints that many customers are paying premiums for sports programming, even if they never watch ESPN or similar channels. "Our market research says there are clearly people who are not big sports fans," he says.
A recent report suggests cable companies may be losing large numbers of subscribers, with 741,000 departing in the last quarter. Even as some defectors immediately pick up satellite service or another alternative, the entire pay-TV segment may have lost 119,000 subscribers in total. Most television providers have denied the trend, although some analysts suggest the companies are merely attempting to maintain investor confidence.