Is Philippine cable TV really worth it?

Is subscribing to cable TV really worth it? Sometimes it is, but most often it isn’t.

You see, it all starts with the way it’s marketed. You can see it everywhere. One of the marketing points being touted by competing cable TV providers is by stating how many channels they serve. In this case, the usual spiel would be for them to: 1) list how many channels they have; 2) list some of their well known programs such as HBO, Star TV and ESPN; and 3) list channels that are targeted for a specific demographic community (Chinese, Indian, Arab, Filipino, etc).

Not that this is bad in any way. It’s actually good – if you’re a motel or realty owner and plan to resell it, that is!

You see, the Pinoy Juan’s instinctive reaction to these ads is to see which deal offers more bang for the buck. He does this by computing for the effective cost per channel by dividing the subscriber’s monthly subscription fee over the number of channels they offer. So if Cable Provider A offers a monthly cost of Php 600 for 60 channels, and Provider B offers a monthly cost of Php 700 for 80 channels, then the cost per channel of each provider would be as follows:

Provider A: Php 600 / 60 channels = Php 10 per channel
Provider B: @ Php 700 / 80 channels = Php 8.75 per channel

At first glance, this makes Provider B the better deal. And so Juan opts for Subscriber B. He even pats himself on the back for making such an astute choice, only to find out later on, to much consternation, that he might have ended up with a lemon.

You see, everything changes once the subscription starts. Why? Well, for starters, of the 80 channels, half of which use foreign language. Of the remaining 40, roughly half of this is pretty much useless stuff such as virtual aquariums, flight scheds, race results and the like. So what’s left? Oh, just about a dozen or so local VHF/UHF channels that could be seen even without cable, and about 7 or 8 channels that are good enough (at least until they start showing re-runs for the duration of the month’s program schedule) for viewing.

Juan suddenly feels gypped. He just spent 700 bucks for a measly 7 watchable channels on top of the local ones – that’s a hundred bucks per channel!

Don’t you ever wonder why won’t cable companies just sell us channels of our own choosing, a la carte style, instead of the unpalatable smorgasbord gunk of what they call intelligent programming.

Oh well, just imagine what Juan would do if it were his day off or he called in sick. You can almost picture him either catching up on a good read or just snoozing the day off.

Posted in Tongue-in-cheek and tagged , .


  1. I think it’s still ok, per minimum viewing requirement. It would actually be an excess, if your wife would be glued to Tagalog telenovelas. LOL Anyways, when I was in Germany, the only English channel I got was CNN. Missed Philippine cable there. LOL.

  2. You said it bro. Somehow, most of my friends who are cable subscribers have the same sentiments: How in the world are you to compete for some TV viewing time against pinoy teleserye fanatics at home? 😉

  3. Interesting post, PJ!

    My grandmother is back in San Jose, where she spends her winters. While she’s in Canada, she always special orders her filipino TV station! She just loves her tagalog telenovelas!

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