An a la carte life

David Precht / Posted 4.11.2013

An a la carte life

Who wants to purchase an HBO package just so they can watch Game of Thrones when they can just download the most recent episode? Who wants to buy a whole album when that catchy single will suffice? Why channel surf when you can just watch your favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix? We're living in an a la carte world -- and it's time that companies start catching up.

Apple leads the a la carte charge

iTunes was really the beginning of pick-and-choose tech. Apple created a model in which the customer decided which songs they wanted and only got that, instead of having to pay for the entire album. Customers could pick out the song they most desired to listen to and buy it, usually for 99 cents. This same model would later be adopted by Amazon, Google’s Play and others.

Apple's iTunes then used the same model for television episodes and movies, followed again by Amazon. The trend was obvious, people didn’t want the whole cow they wanted what parts they wanted.

Cherry pick your cable TV

But music, television episodes and movies aren’t enough. In recent months, reports have surfaced that Apple might be pushing for something new and big, and cherry picked for this article. There’s buzz suggesting the new option might be purchasing or subscribing only to particular TV shows or networks and having them delivered directly to a device connected to your TV.

Major League Baseball has created a package deal for computers, cable television and smart phones that allow users to watch and/or listen to games on the fly. Just like with Apple’s iTunes Store, this is a good start, but not quite there yet. Makes you wonder when MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. might enact an ala carte structure allowing fans to only watch their team’s games as well as All-Star games and play-offs.

Beyond a la carte

Really there are thousands of things that should be customizable. Like phone contracts. Or Internet services. Or prices.

Radiohead released the album In Rainbows a few years ago in this fashion, announcing to their fans that they could name their own price. Louis C.K. did it with his Live at the Beacon Theater stand up special. Type nerds everywhere rejoiced at the advent ot Lost Type Coop's pay-what-you-want model.

We are living in an a la carte world, and I am an a la carte girl. Err...boy.

What other products and services could benefit from a realistic, revamped, a la carte structure?

David Precht


David Faroz Precht is a writer and business marketing strategist at Q Digital Studio. David writes graphic novels and comic books. He has contributed to and The Onion's AV Club. He has a constant desire to rewrite everything he writes and a true love for all kinds of awkwardness. He will commit to any joke, no matter how unfunny.