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Verizon: blame networks, not cable companies, for stupid cable prices

Chris Mills

The stupidly high (and still rising!) price of cable television is driving a mass migration to internet streaming. But according to the cable companies -- yep, those same companies that have been fined for deceptive billing, and that are instituting internet caps across the country -- it's the networks that you should blame.

At least, that's what Verizon says.

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At a conference in California on Monday, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam laid the blame for big TV bundles firmly at the door of networks. “We would sell skinny bundles exclusively,” McAdam said. “Customers don’t want it.” Verizon started pushing skinny bundles last year, and McAdam says that they now make up 40 percent of the company's volume. With the cost of skinny bundles much lower, they're likely to make up far less of the revenue.

But to keep growing the market for its skinny bundles, Verizon says it will need to sell networks in smaller bundles. Traditionally, contracts with networks have prevented that from happening. In 2015, Disney sued Verizon for selling skinny bundles without ESPN.

It's not exactly surprising that consumers are happier with cable TV -- and more likely to subscribe -- if they're not paying for a bunch of channels they never watch. Verizon speaking out against its content partners is a big step for the company, but it's feeling the pressure from all sides. Netflix is challenging the whole concept of cable TV, while the growth of individual streaming services from big players like HBO, the NBA and NHL are making it easier to switch away from cable TV. With content providers unwilling to negotiate, Verizon -- and all the cable companies -- find it difficult to adapt.

But at the same time, the cable companies are far from innocent. A new trend of data caps on broadband is sweeping the country, and even Verizon has been caught before setting unofficial data caps on its "unlimited" FiOS service. To its credit, Verizon has not instituted formal data caps on its broadband plans, and the comments above make it seem like it does actually want to shake up the current (awful) state of cable TV. But it's easy to blame other companies for your problems; what's harder is actually stopping all those gosh-darn millennials ditching their cable box forever.

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See the original version of this article on BGR.com