With the tech webs all firmly occupied with Apple-palooza or Kindle mania, this item hardly got any notice this week. And it’s a shame, since it’s very exciting, extremely long overdue and could affect pretty much everybody in the U.S.

I’m talking about cable TV, people.

Looks like the industry finally got a clue, and might be breaking up their service packages. According to Reuters, cable operators are working behind closed doors to get programmers to ditch these bundles and offer channels á la carte. That would mean no more ESPN tacked onto HGTV and the Jewelry network, or Oprah’s OWN with the Military channel, and no more high prices for superfluous channels. Picture it: A world where you only had to pay for the TV you actually wanted to watch. No more being charged for 200 channels, when all you want are 20.

Why the change? One word: STREAMING.

Web streaming has become the new normal for an increasing load of people, and the cable industry is feeling the hit – especially now, with higher costs from the networks. In a year’s time (from June of last year to this year), Comcast and Time Warner, the two leading operators, have lost 1.2 million TV customers, says Reuters. It’s not a fatal blow — yet — but they need to do something fast before they start hemorrhaging business even further. And once they start, it will likely blaze a trail for the other providers in different regions.

These are the very early stages, so it’s not a done deal. And the end result could go a few different ways, as all the parties figure out whether to allow customers individual channel subscriptions, offer smaller groupings or tiers based on interests, or some other service structure. So it seems the cable operators aren’t going down without a fight.

Any cable-cutters out there? What do you think? Is this effort too little, too late? Or, if you get a cheaper bill that gives you more of the programming you want and less of what you don’t, would it be enough to win you back?

[via Reuters]