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Bundling, product choice, and efficiency: should cable television networks be offered à la carte?


Crawford, Gregory S; Cullen, Joseph (2007). Bundling, product choice, and efficiency: should cable television networks be offered à la carte? Information Economics and Policy, 19(3-4):379-404.

Abstract

We conduct a numerical analysis of bundling’s impact on a monopolist’s pricing and product choices and assess the implications for consumer welfare in cable television markets. Existing theory is ambiguous: for a given set of products, bundling likely transfers surplus from consumers to firms but also encourages products to be offered that might not be under à la carte pricing. Simulation of “Full À La Carte” for an economic environment calibrated to an average cable television system suggests that consumers would likely benefit from à la carte sales. If all networks continued to be offered, the average household’s surplus is predicted to increase by $6.80 (65.6%) under à la carte sales (despite a total bundle price that almost doubles) and reduced network profits would have to be such that 41 of 50 offered cable networks have to exit the market to make her indifferent. Simulation of a “Theme Tier” scenario provides intermediate benefits. The incremental marginal costs to cable systems of à la carte sales and its impact in the advertising market and on competition are important factors in determining consumer benefits.

Abstract

We conduct a numerical analysis of bundling’s impact on a monopolist’s pricing and product choices and assess the implications for consumer welfare in cable television markets. Existing theory is ambiguous: for a given set of products, bundling likely transfers surplus from consumers to firms but also encourages products to be offered that might not be under à la carte pricing. Simulation of “Full À La Carte” for an economic environment calibrated to an average cable television system suggests that consumers would likely benefit from à la carte sales. If all networks continued to be offered, the average household’s surplus is predicted to increase by $6.80 (65.6%) under à la carte sales (despite a total bundle price that almost doubles) and reduced network profits would have to be such that 41 of 50 offered cable networks have to exit the market to make her indifferent. Simulation of a “Theme Tier” scenario provides intermediate benefits. The incremental marginal costs to cable systems of à la carte sales and its impact in the advertising market and on competition are important factors in determining consumer benefits.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bundling, product choice, cable television, à la carte, policy analysis
Language:English
Date:October 2007
Deposited On:25 Sep 2019 10:51
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 03:40
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0167-6245
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infoecopol.2007.06.005

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