Fox Sports Co-President Calls A La Carte TV an Unworkable ‘Fantasy’ at Variety Sports Summit

Randy Freer A La Carte TV
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Randy Freer: Don't underestimate the value of the TV bundle

The option of purchasing cable channels a la carte is a “fantasy,” according to Randy Freer, COO and co-president of Fox Sports Media Group, who spoke Thursday at the Variety Sports Entertainment Summit.

“A la carte is a fantasy,” he said. “It doesn’t work.”

In a keynote Q&A, Freer said the value of the cable channel “bundle” is vastly underestimated.

“The theory that this television bundle has somehow become too complicated or too much for the world to digest is just not accurate,” he said.

Freer’s comments echoed similar skepticism expressed by News Corp. COO Chase Carey, who made the case for a deep investment in cable programming  last week at the conglomerate’s investor day.

Freer also did some tubthumping for imminent channel launches Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, which will take the places of Speed and Fuel, on Saturday.

Analysts predict that subscriber fees for FS1 will triple in the short term.

While delay on setting up distribution deals threatened the start date, Fox announced yesterday that they set up deals with Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish. Fox Sports 1 boosts 5,000 hours of sports annually, including live events, news and talk shows.

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  1. MagicMiguel says:

    They are praying “a la carte” TV remains a fantasy because it is too good of a deal for consumers. Right now we have no choice but to pay for channels we would never want or watch. So these giant turds like News Corp are essentially forcing this crap on us. They know full well, if given the choice, most people would not pay for junk like FX, Fuel, Speed, Fox News, etc.

  2. Len kaiser says:

    A L Carte will work and be less to the consumer. Now (using really fake numbers) there a million people who get ESPN! But only half a million watch ESPN…..they now can charge higher ad charges because they have a targeted viewer. Ever see a tampon commercial on ESPN? I have, but with better targeting, that company put its money else where….even the cable companies’ ads would be more targeted. FOXSPORTS will have to compete.

  3. FrankM says:

    Saying something doesn’t work, when you have not made efforts to make it work is the sign of non-intelligence..

    A la carte may be a “fantasy”, but what about smaller bundled channels where costly sports programming is its own tier. Could that work? Because it DOES WORK in the UK on Sky Tv. Maybe you can get some insight from the owners…. News Corp.

  4. FTCS says:

    Mr. Freer,

    Let’s see how big a fantasy ala carte is when the costs hit the wall, and this is rapidly approaching. Soon, some newer technology will render most of the providers as useless as the betamax.

    Perhaps, your greed has blinded you to seeing the truth. The anger is rampant, and people are jumping around just for deals.

    DirecTV began screwing around with me all last year (a customer since the first day it hit the market). As I finally called to cancel…all of a sudden some $50/mo in new savings were miraculously located along with a free NFL Sunday package without even signing or agreeing to any long term contract. All these discounts range from 12 – 18 months.

    DirecTV, AT&T, Time Warner, etc. are quietly making very attractive off book/public deals to keep clients.

    I believe that all of these folks know the story, this article and most others are just public posturing.

  5. David Sams says:

    Mr. Freer, may I remind you that there was a day when everyone said, “We already have 3 networks…the FOX network is a fantasy…there is no room for a 4th network.” I was there. Witnessed it myself. Get real. People have had enough. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

  6. Joe Smart says:

    The problem isn’t that the bundle is too complicated–it’s that it’s too expensive, with viewers paying mostly for channels that they have no interest in ever watching. Bundles benefit only the media companies selling channels that would be worthless without the bundle system currently in place. It does not benefit consumers, who are stuck paying huge cable bills for a lot of garbage.

  7. Josh says:

    The Bundle is not the problem for consumers. It’s the inability to lock a fixed price for the bundle for 1-2 years if you’re an existing customer and having to watch your monthly bills increase while you’re not watching. The Bundle makes sense, but the execution by cable companies to consumers (customer service ) is maddening.

    • Steve says:

      The bundle is a good deal because a la carte would raise the prices of the channels you watch so far that you would be unlikely to save money. Why not get all those extra channels anyhow if you are going to pay the same? And those smaller channels that you do not watch someone else does. Without affiliate fees they would disappear. And bigger, more popular channels would have less money to spend on programming. It’s frustrating but I don’t think a la carte is the answer to high monthly bills.

      • FrankM says:

        In 1981, when there were a handful of channels and you “want(ed) your MTV!”, it was a good business practice. Now there are too many channels to keep subsidizing.

        We should have smaller channel bundles and no prerequisite tiers. It’s the only way to save the declining pay-TV industry.

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