The End of the Cable Package

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A lot of Americans love The Daily Show. But those Americans usually don't watch Nickelodeon. Cable subscribers are paying for both, though — along with a host of other channels they don't watch.

Last week, DirecTV blacked out 19 channels owned by Viacom, including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and MTV. To anyone with internet access, this would only be an inconvenient hiccup, but Viacom amped up the pressure by cutting off streaming video to its shows' websites. This isn't about one or two shows: it's about the bundle price Viacom charges DirecTV for all of its channels — whether you've heard of them (VH1) or not (the Centric Channel).

But could there be a paradigm shift on the horizon? Brian Stelter of The New York Times' Media Decoder Blog thinks we could be heading toward 'à la carte' programming.