According to Reuters, the Canadian government is expected to "soon require cable and satellite television providers to make it easier for customers to buy only the channels they want rather than pay for bundles". Reuters also noted:

Some Canadian cable and satellite television providers have already begun to offer so-called "a la carte" pricing, a trend some analysts think could begin to take hold in the much larger U.S. market.

In the United States, unbundling has been resisted by cable providers, whose reluctance has prompted efforts by legislators like U.S. Senator John McCain to require a new approach. As technology has evolved to support choice, consumers are increasingly asking, "Why do I have to pay for what I don't want?"

Making things easier for consumers is a source of competitive advantage. That's the fundamental premise of "lean consumption", a topic I've come back to repeatedly while considering options for new approaches to publishing and media.

Customers want more say in unbundling, rebundling and consuming content of all types. As I noted in "Disaggregating supply", my own nod toward the appeal of unbundled content:

This brings us back to the idea of a container. "Context first" proposed that we not use containers as the primary source of information, instead considering them as vehicles to transmit what Hugh McGuire calls an "internally complete representation." But here, "internally complete" is not the same as "complete".

I think we're inevitably moving toward what I'd call a "pre-book world": a living representation of the development, refinement and extension of a particular work. At various points, an object – a book or an eBook, as examples – may be rendered, but as a subset of the greater representation.

Admittedly, we don't yet have an ecosystem that could rightly be called "a pre-book world", much as we can't yet buy programs outside of established bundles. I think both are coming, and when they do, we'll be looking for an architecture of collaboration that will allow us all to tap into a web-facilitated sea of stories.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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