Comcast has kick-started another trial of its theme-based video packages in Charleston, S.C..
While a spokeswoman for Comcast said the trial wasn't based on a la carte choices, the theme-based categories give subscribers more flexibility in choosing the type of programming they want to watch, which may serve as a prelude to full a la carte offerings down the road.
According to a story in the Charleston-based The Post and Courier, Comcast's My TV Choice is now being offered to 120,000 Comcast cable subscribers in the area. Starting in June, MyTV Choice, which falls short of full-blown a la carte by offering a blend of theme-based options, was launched in trials in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Seattle and Vermont.
"While we're early on in the trial, we're excited about it," Comcast spokeswoman Alana Davis said. "We think we're among the first, if not the first, to offer strategic packaging that is genre-based."
While not an a la carte tier, Time Warner Cable's low-cost TV Essentials , which doesn't include some of the more expensive channels such as ESPN, is slated for more launches along the East Coast. Shaw Communications  rolled out a la carte offerings  in set bundles to its customers earlier this year.
Davis said customers in Charleston could pick from "Get Started" or "Get Started Plus" video tiers, which cost $24.95 and $44.95 respectively. Get Started features roughly 50-60 channels, while Get Started Plus has additional premium channels such as ESPN. Davis said the prices were "everyday prices" and not promotional prices that expire after a certain amount of time passed.
Once the subscriber picks either Get Started or Get Started Plus, they can choose from four theme-related packages that each cost $10 more per month: the 19-channel news and information theme, the 31-channel entertainment and lifestyle them, the 16-channel movies theme and the 11-channel kids theme.
Customers don't have to pick any of the themes, and MyTV Choice is also available in HD for an additional cost. Davis said MyTV Choice is available as a standalone service in the Charleston trial, but it's part of a bundled Internet and phone package in the other trials.
Comcast, which competes with Knology in Charleston, also offers a Limited Basic tier for $10.95 per month and a digital package that starts at $59.95.
Comcast is conducting an a la carte trial in its Charleston, S.C., system.