A new study released by the Nielsen Company Monday says the average American home now gets 104 television channels. That's up eight channels over a year ago, and up 43 since the year 2000. Not that anybody watches them all -- the average family only really uses about 16 of those channels, Nielsen says, a figure that's been relatively constant since 2000. That suggests that when Congress finally gets around to considering proposals to force cable systems to offer so-called a la carte pricing -- that is, to allow consumers to order (and pay for) only the channels they want, instead of having to accept big programming packages devised by the cable systems -- there may be a lot of popular support for the idea. Why pay for 88 channels you never watch?
The study also says that 87 percent of Americans have their televisions hooked up to either cable or satellite. Keep that in mind some idiot (usually a politician or a sports columnist, two of America's most IQ-deprived demographics) starts screaming about how the move of NFL or major-league baseball games to a cable channel will deprive large chunks of the TV audience of the ability to watch. Of the 13 percent of Americans who don't have cable or satellite, a good chunk -- probably about half -- don't watch television at all. Americans who watch television consider cable not a luxury but a staple, and it's routinely present even in low-income homes. Time for the chattering classes to catch on.