Most of us know the games that cable suppliers play to up-sell us premium cable packages. Want to watch NFL football? It’s only $11/month and it comes with the exciting Billiards TV and the breakneck action of the Poker Channel! Have a Showtime series you want to watch? It’s only available in the $30/month Entertainment package with HBO Max and Starz. Seriously, does anyone actually watch Starz?
Full disclosure: I “cut the cable” back in November 2016 and haven’t looked back. But one thing I’ve noticed with the emerging crowd of cable-like streaming services like Youtube TV, Sling TV and Philo is a trend towards a la carte premium channels rather than just packages with a bunch of cruft you pay for but don’t want. Since I watch only a tiny subset of the typical 70 to 200+ channels available on cable boxes it got me wondering how low my old cable bill could have been if I only paid for the channels I actually watched. Including local channels it was like nine.
That turned out to be difficult to determine because most content providers don’t publish their subscriber fees to cable providers. But several of them do and I was stunned… outraged… to find that Fox News, a channel I loathe and which I actually blocked from my cable guide, costs consumers $2 a month. It’s the second most expensive cable franchise fee after ESPN in base cable packages. And because it’s part of most standard cable packages we’re all paying that $2 whether we watch Fox News or not. All 90 million of us. I fumed as I added up all the ransom Fox had pulled from me over the past 20+ years I had cable — for a channel I didn’t watch and didn’t want to support.
It turns out that cable subscriber fees, not advertising, is Fox News’ largest revenue stream worth $1.8 billion/year! Worse, Fox News’ contract with many large cable providers expires in 2023 and Fox wants to raise their subscriber fee 50% to $3/month per customer!
During my travels I encountered a web site, Unfox My Box, It’s a petition to compel cable providers to offer Fox News only as a premium channel. Will it work? Meh, who knows but I certainly signed the petition. Fox News’ behavior as the Republican Press Office pre-2020 and then as the Trump Public Relations Dept has been atrociously dishonest and destructive of our democracy, public health and rule of law. Nothing would make me happier than seeing it driven into bankruptcy by the Dominion and Smartmatic lawsuits because of its relentless demagoguery. But I’m not a gullible enough to believe that this will happen when it can reliably count on ridiculous subscriber fees to carry them through this.
However, if this campaign were successful, it would mean that only people willing to pay Fox’s tribute would see its nasty programming. How would that help? Check the graphic above.
The irony is that Fox is Circle Jerk Central for rabble-rousing about the “socialism” of leftist Democrats yet its income is based on a socialist and decidedly non-Libertarian model that everyone pays, whether you use it or not. And, no, I’m not surprised by their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is oxygen to Fox News, its prime time hosts and the political trash it promotes.