Bad for consumers, bad for pay-TV: why is the set-top box still around?

TiVO Premiere DVRSet-top box rental fees imposed by cable operators add up to more than $231 per year for each of their subscribers -- and 99 percent of all subscribers rent their boxes directly from their cable provider, with few other options available to them. While that lock on the customer should provide a nice margin for pay-TV operators, the industry argues that set-top leasing is hardly a profitable business.

So, if clunky old set-top boxes are bad for the operator and bad for the customer, why does the industry still cling to them as sleeker, faster alternatives enter the market -- products like over-the-top streaming devices by Roku, Amazon and others? FierceCable editor Daniel Frankel takes an in-depth look at the problem, detailing past attempts to break consumers out of the set-top rental model, like CableCard, and exploring regulatory and market efforts ongoing today. Check out this special report.

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