CNBC Attempts to Tackle the Economics of Unbundling Cable

We have the “cut the cable or don’t cut the cable” debate in my house every few months. In the end our bundled cable still seems like a better deal because there’s a few networks we use regularly.

CNBC did some number crunching on how much you’d have to pay as an individual subscriber of a channel for the channel to break even against being part of a bundle. The results are very intriguing!

CNBC Attempts to Tackle the Economics of Unbundling Cable

CNBC looked at how much the various channels make per month for being part of a cable bundle. Then they looked at how many people watched the channel, and assumed those people would translate to individual subscribers. From there, they figured out how much each individual subscriber would have to pay in order for the channel to make as much as they did as part of a bundle. There are two extremes here. On the one end there is ESPN Classic, watched by only 0.5% of viewers; in order for ESPN Classic to maintain its revenue, subscribers would have to pay a whopping $42/month! On the other hand, Hallmark Movie Channel apparently is watched by 4.9% of viewership, meaning the cost per month is only $0.41. And the loss of whatever dignity you had before choosing to add Hallmark to your curated stations list.

This made me quite curious, so I looked at what stations we typically watch that were on that list and added it up:


The Weather Channel-$1.02

Food Network-$1.03


Destination America-$1.50


Cooking Channel-$1.84





Nick JR-$3.48


Grand Total: $26.76

This list taught me a few things. One, we have boring taste in channels. Two, if we ever had a true “a la carte” channel choice, we would definitely benefit. Especially if we were past the Sprout/Nick Jr age with our son! Be sure to check out the full article, because the analysis is pretty interesting and breaks down the cost/subscriber issue quite nicely. What would your unbundled cost be?


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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?