Pulling the cable plug
Well, we did it. We’ve cut the cord. No more cable television. Sure, we’ve been without cable TV before. I recall stints after leaving for college and after marriage where I didn’t have my own cable TV subscription. Well, today we’re without cable again, but not because we can’t afford it.
Why? Well, for many reasons.
1. Really, who needs that much TV?
The truth is, we like TV, and we want TV, but not 24-hour TV. Certainly we don’t need 95% (more?) of the programming cable TV serves.
2. It’s antiquated.
Broadcast is the past. The future is on-demand and à la carte. I will select exactly what I want to see. (Cable companies are starting to offer “on demand” service. I quote “on demand”, because it’s really “on demand (as long as it’s something from our preselected menu of programs we happen to have available today)”. In other words, as long as they have it, you can demand it. That’s not what I mean when I say “on demand”.)
3. No bargain.
While we can afford cable TV, it feels more and more like we’re throwing money away. And I hope I’m never comfortable doing that.
4. Sick of ads.
Yes, we know about DVRs. No, it’s still not ideal. And it’s just a matter of time before you can’t even fast-forward through those ads.
5. TV news is BOOOOOORING!
I haven’t read a printed newspaper in years, and I’m growing increasingly frustrated with televised news. Local news; national news; international news, you name it. I will select the news and sources I want from the Internet. And none of them have those dreadful scrolling tickers.
6. For the children.
Our kids would live in front of our television if we’d let them. We do our best to limit them to an hour or two per day and it’s a daily struggle. The average American child watches at least twice that daily and that is disconcerting.
7. So many more things to do.
Sure, there’s always work to be done. But it is important to set aside time to unwind. I have dozens of books that I have either never read or stopped reading after the first chapter or two. I have bunches of unfinished video games I could be enjoying instead. I mean, as long as time is being wasted, I should at least enjoy myself in a more engaging way.
8. I have choices.
Despite their best efforts, the cable companies are not monopolies. Sure, most places still just have 1 cable company provider, but I’m talking about the Internet. Namely, iTunes. Ironically, my Internet service provider is my former cable TV provider. So in a small way, they still serve our TV content, but we pay someone else for it. Hmm. I wonder how long that will last?
So what are our alternatives? How will we possibly fill the void? I feel another list coming on…
Bought, rented, borrowed. DVDs are most certainly versatile. The corner movie store has them. Netflix has them. All our friends have them. Even the local library has them (for free!). You can even get TV shows on them. The ads are even removed for you. How ‘bout that?
2. iTunes “Media” Store
I refuse to call it the iTunes Music Store any longer because they sell more than music. Sure, the video quality is low, and it’s DRM-laden, but it is pretty cheap, they have an increasingly large quantity of it, and it is ad-free (at least, it is today).
3. Network freebies
ABC recently had an experimental ad-supported video player that let you view some of their better shows. I’m hoping they resume that in the fall and that other networks will offer something similar.
4. Independent video (YouTube, Video Podcasts)
I find myself at youtube.com more and more these days, being entertained. I also subscribe to a few video podcasts and that is bound to increase now.
5. News via podcast
NPR and other news organizations offer news you can listen to. It’s sorta like radio, but digital. It’s less distracting and far less annoying than televised news.
6. To Be Invented.
It seems there’s a new medium that is attempting to supplant your friendly neighborhood cable company each week. Rumors abound about Netflix offering a movie download service. Or TiVo. Or MovieLink and CinemaNow letting you buy and burn DVDs.
(As a side note, when I called to cancel service, the customer service representative I spoke with made every effort to keep me from canceling. They analyzed my bill and current services. They trimmed here and there and offered to reduce the basic cable service down to $35, then eventually down to $17. Is it me, or does it seem a little disingenuous for a company to offer discounted services only when you threaten them to quit. I imagine you could get a decent discount yourself if you do the same. Feel free to PayPal me $1 (brad (at) bradchoate.com) if this tip serves you well.)
I just hope and pray iTunes offers a higher-resolution option for Battlestar Galactica and Lost this fall. With the savings we’ll be seeing from cutting cable TV service, I can justify cherry-picking a few purchases like that.
So how about you? Are you still getting your fix via cable?