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Verizon Fios Lets You Pick Channel Packs by Genre

Verizon's latest pitch isn't quite as good as paying only for the cable channels you want to watch, but it's one step closer to an à-la-carte TV service that cord-cutters dream about. Starting soon, customers will be able to purchase Verizon's FiOS TV cable service, starting at $55 per month, with channel packs that are relevant to their interests rather than broad swaths of cable programming.

Tech news site Re/code provided a breakdown of Verizon's proposed structure. Every customer will get local TV channels, as well as a host of general interest cable channels (like the Food Network, AMC and CNN) as part of a Base Channels package.

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From there, customers can choose additional channel packs all themed around specific genres. A Kids' Channel pack, for example, includes networks like Disney and Nickelodeon, while the sports Channel pack includes Fox Sports and ESPN.

The Verizon package covers base channels and two channel packs of the customer's choice, but provides no Internet service. It costs $55 per month, and prices increase from there depending on what other kind of services you want, ranging up to $95 per month for base channels, two channel packs, 75 Mbps Internet and landline phone service. Verizon does not seem to offer a plan with more than two channel packs, as simply purchasing a comprehensive cable plan would be cheaper at that point.

We contacted Verizon to find out exactly how many channels it will include in the base and additional channel packs. The base package will include at least 35 channels, while the packs will include anywhere between 10 and 17 channels.

While the service is not exactly picking and choosing only the channels you want, it's arguably a step in the right direction. After all, it seems silly to make users pay for sports channels if their eyes glaze over every time a ballgame starts, or five different kids' channels if they live alone. The price, however, might raise a few eyebrows.

Fifty-five dollars for standalone cable service is comparable to the PlayStation Vue service, which costs $50 for over 50 channels. (Vue also requires a separate Internet connection, plus a PlayStation console, to boot.) However, Fios' new packages are much more expensive than Sling TV ($20 per month). Sling TV offers a much more pared-down package of 20 channels, with several of its own add-on channel packs, for $5 each.

There's also the question of how much money users will really save. Verizon already offers a basic cable package with more than 210 channels at $54.99 per month. The big difference is that the base channel and additional channel packs will not require a contract, but it's not as though Verizon is offering them at a discount.

Depending on how the channel packs perform, Verizon may offer even more granular channel options in the near future. In the meantime, expect competitors to follow suit sooner rather than later.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • hokiecow
    So I have to pay more for less. For waht I pay now, I would get the basic channels and two channel packages. The shows we watch are spread out among 4 packages! I have to pay more to get the same channels. This is not a good deal! NOW, let me pick the 50 channels I want, sign me up!
    Reply
  • Mintas Lanxor
    The cable TV pay system should be set up just like the phone service: allow all the channels (including premium) to everybody and charge based on the minutes of monthly viewing. Of course this proposal, like the a la carte option, is utopian.
    Reply
  • Cun Con
    The cable TV pay system should be set up just like the phone service: allow all the channels (including premium) to everybody and charge based on the minutes of monthly viewing. Of course this proposal, like the a la carte option, is utopian.
    Then you'll have to pay more for falling asleep wit the TV ON...sure, absolutely smart huh?
    Reply
  • Scooter 30
    It would certainly be nice to not have to pay for expensive channels like ESPN that I NEVER watch,ever.
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    Just let me pick and pay for the 12 channels I actually watch, instead of paying for 500+ to get those 12 channels!
    Reply
  • Grandmastersexsay
    i can't wait for the tipping point when more people subscribe to streaming services than cable television. The sooner it dies, the better.
    Reply
  • rcmaniac25
    So I have to pay more for less. For waht I pay now, I would get the basic channels and two channel packages. The shows we watch are spread out among 4 packages! I have to pay more to get the same channels. This is not a good deal! NOW, let me pick the 50 channels I want, sign me up!

    The article does say that they don't let you pick more then 2 packages, as it would be more expensive then getting the normal service. So if you only care about a very finite number of channels, then it makes more sense.

    I definitely like the direction streaming services are going, but for me, I also care less about movies and most if not all of the big-name shows on (they just don't get me), but that's all the streaming services seem to offer right now. So until then, I see this as a better deal then full service.
    Reply
  • BuffaloChuck
    This is still a situation where we are forced to pay for channels we may not want.

    "Just don't watch" isn't the issue - WE STILL HAVE TO PAY for channels that we may object to. The a-la carte issue was exactly what the digital providers said was possible in the late '90s as they were paying Congress their rebates and kickbacks.
    Reply
  • stevenrix
    I don't watch TV, I think for myself. Problem solved.
    Reply
  • John Usa
    ESPN rates are ridiculously exorbitant and I am all for ala carte channel choices.
    I will save lots of $$$ by dumping ESPN channels as I never watch them anyway.
    I wish that Comcast will give me this choice as I waste a lot of $$$ on ESPN.
    Get lost ESPN. I am sick and tired paying for your expensive and lousy programs that I never watch.
    Reply