How Many TV Channels Do You Really Need? Nielsen Says Just 17
Life is a matter of choice, but sometimes, having too many choices reduces our power to choose. As psychologist Barry Schwartz mentions in his famous TED Talk on the paradox of choice, “All of this choice has negative effects on people. One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.”
So, what do many people end up doing instead? They automatically stick with the same choice they’ve always made, or they blindly follow the popular choice other people have already made. And while many folks think that having more choice means they have more freedom when it comes to their TV channels and packages, The Nielsen Company published a study back in 2014 that has shown otherwise.
According to their findings, when it comes to the way Americans actually watch TV, the average US household now receives 189 channels, but watches just 17. As Nielsen explains, this data “substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption. And that means quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers. So the best way to reach consumers in a world with myriad options is to be the best option.”
And for those looking to slim down their TV packages without cutting them completely, there’s now a happy medium that gives you the best of both worlds – and one easy choice.
Verizon Fios serves up “skinny bundles” for new Custom TV service menu
Perhaps as a result of this very Nielsen study, or in response to the new ways Americans are tuning into their favorite shows these days, Verizon Fios recently started spicing up their TV package possibilities. They began offering “skinny bundles” back in April of 2015, allowing viewers like yourself to be more discerning with the TV channels they pay to watch.
“The best way to reach consumers in a world with myriad options is to be the best option.”
Historically, the television business has been an all-you-can-eat model. But, rather than being stuck with a standard TV package – one that includes seemingly every channel, no matter how niche – the skinny bundle takes the opposite approach. Verizon’s new, a-la-carte menu offers you the opportunity to cherry-pick only those TV channels that you really want to watch.
It works like this. You start by choosing a set of base channels, which includes options from local television networks and the standard cable networks like AMC and CNN. Next, you choose from seven additional, genre-specific channel packs to expand your total set of TV channels. Those genres include everything from kids shows to entertainment to sports. And, finally, you can add on more channel packs as you like, with each additional one containing anywhere from 10 to 17 channels.
As if that’s not accommodating enough, you can even swap out channel packs after they’ve been on your account for 30 days. That means you could switch between them based on what shows you’re interested in watching throughout the year. Verizon Fios’ Custom TV service (with the base channels set and two channel packs included) starts at $55 per month, and the additional packs each cost only $10 more per month.
How to pick the best TV package – skinny or otherwise
In general, the best TV packages are the ones that offer a great balance of what you need to see, what you want to watch, and immediate access to additional content for whenever the mood strikes. So, as you compare and finally choose a package, here are the main things to keep an eye on.
- The Specific TV Networks Your Provider Offers – Since it’s the entertainment business, certain TV providers have partnerships with certain TV networks. Of course, it makes sense for them to all be friendly and display the TV programming for more and more folks, but that’s not always the case. So, beyond the big three networks (that’s ABC, CBS, and NBC) look to see which ones will be showing up on a screen near you.
- The Number of Channels in Your Package – Sure, having 500 channels sounds pretty cool, but there’s also a lot of content you’ll never have the chance to see. So, it’s not simply the number of channels that’s important, but what those stations are showing. Keep in mind the kind of content that’s most important to you – whether it’s dramas, sports, reality TV, or anything else – and be sure that this programming is part of the package you’re paying for.
- Access to Premium Content – Many TV providers have partnered with particular networks offering premium content (such as XFINITY offering HBO for free to their subscribers) to give their customers added value. Get to know what extras are included as part of your package to make the most of it.
- Included Recording Devices (DVR) – Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) have become standard additions to any TV package that’s more than the entry level option. However, things to note here are the number of DVRs that come with your package, the max number of shows they can record simultaneously, and the total number of hours of recorded content you can keep before you run out of memory space.
It’s safe to assume that your chosen provider will offer good coverage, reception, and signal quality, so there’s little need to fret over that. But that doesn’t matter much if, as Bruce Springsteen so wisely noted back even in 1992, “there’s 57 channels and nothin’ on.” So, to get your TV tailored to you, and to avoid the paralyzing paradox of choice, be sure to review all the advice listed above, and make the most of your TV package – skinny or otherwise.