Having cut the cord 12 months ago, a long-time subscriber answers the question: Is it possible to survive on Netflix and Hulu alone?

By MSN Money Partner Dec 18, 2012 1:57PM

NetflixBy Kevin Sintumuang, The Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal on MSN Money

 

Dear Cable:


How are you? Can you believe it's been a year since we last saw each other? I remember handing the cable guy my set-top box like it was yesterday.


So much has happened since then. The last of the remaining cool characters on "Boardwalk Empire" got offed. Zombies have officially overtaken vampires as the monster du jour thanks to "The Walking Dead." And Carrie on "Homeland" has consumed about 10 gallons of Pinot Grigio.


You see, Cable, breaking up with you didn't mean the end of my entertainment universe. I wanted to let you know that I'm happy. Me and Internet TV? We're getting along great. I spent 36 hours with her last weekend watching three seasons of "Damages," and she didn't mind that I never changed out of my sweatpants.


When I pressed "Off" on that 64-button remote of yours for the last time, I was relieved. No more $175 monthly bills! No more Honey Boo Boo! No more Guy Fieri!


But I was scared, too. Would I be OK with most of the American public watching "Bob's Burgers" a day before I could see it on Hulu? Would paying $35 for a season of "Mad Men" in HD sting as much as a cable bill? Would I be too ashamed to ask my parents for access to their HBO Go account?


I survived. But I'd be lying if I said I don't think about you every once in a while.


Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad we went our separate ways. You still act like such a jerk. When are you going to learn that it's wrong to force people to buy hundreds of channels they don't watch when they really only want a dozen or so? I know, I know -- that's just how the business works; it's how you've made money for decades. But have you ever thought about how that makes the people you're supposed to care about, i.e., your subscribers, feel?

Sometimes I think you're missing a sensitivity chip. You should watch more Oprah and fewer house-flipping programs.


Internet TV? It respects me. It's progressive. It lets me choose what I want to watch, when I want to watch, whether a show I buy through my Apple TV or some foreign movie I stream on Hulu Plus that makes me feel like an artsy college student again.


I can even watch live sports on Aereo. It'll never force me to subscribe to a channel with a show about pawnshop owners making customized bikes for ghost-hunting housewives.


No one's perfect, though. The "New Releases" section of Netflix (NFLX) seems to have the same selections week after week. The latest season of "The Walking Dead" in HD costs $43 on iTunes -- add subscriptions to a few more shows and I might as well be paying for cable. And whenever I'm interrupted halfway through a show by a buffering circle, I think about how quick and reliable you were.


That's the thing, Cable: You were boring to a fault, but you worked the way you were supposed to most of the time. At one point, you were a necessity, like water and electricity. But these days, I see you as a luxury product.


You do what you do exceedingly well -- but you charge way too much for the privilege.


I've seen you grow over the past year: Letting folks watch on their iPads. Giving access to primo content from HBO and ESPN on pretty much everything -- tablets, smartphones, laptops, an Xbox 360. This "TV everywhere" approach is a step in the right direction. It almost makes up for the fact that you're so expensive. Almost.


So where does that leave us? I've thought about you a lot. You don't make it easy to let go. Every few weeks I get something in the mail from you -- Triple Play! Double Play! It's sweet, but I find it hard to forget how awful you could be -- jacking up your rates out of the blue, charging me a monthly fee for a DVR that only worked half of the time.


When I quit you last year, I told you, "It's not you. It's me." Well, I lied. It was mostly you.


I'm learning to forgive you. But you have to change. It's easy, really: Let me pay for just the channels I want -- say, $100 a month for my choice of 20 instead of $175 for hundreds. If you do that, you can move your set-top box back to where my Apple TV now sits.


Do I miss you? Sometimes. Will we ever be together again? Perhaps. But not today. And not tomorrow. For now, let's just be friends. I'll still see you at my parents' place over the holidays, OK?


Your pal,


Kevin


More from The Wall Street Journal 

 

Recruiters are filling openings faster by relying on new tools that scour social networks and target workers who aren't necessarily looking for jobs.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 17, 2012 4:41PM

A LinkedIn logo © Brian Ach/Invision for Advertising Week/AP ImagesBy Olga Kharif, Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek logo


In his more than 15 years as a headhunter, Jeff Vijungco has tried Monster, Craigslist, CareerBuilder and other online job boards. Lately the head of recruitment at Adobe Systems (ADBE) has scrapped most of them.

 

"I think job postings are such old news," Vijungco says. "Social is the hot new industry."

 

Recruiters are filling openings faster by relying on new tools that scour social networks and target workers who aren't necessarily looking for jobs. 

 

Of the millions from which to choose, these are among the most useful, recommended and interesting.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 14, 2012 6:08PM

smartphone userBy Michelle Price, The Wall Street Journal 


Microsoft Word and Excel are both applications, but these rather staid and well-established pieces of software are not what modern-day tech enthusiasts mean when they talk about "apps."


The emergence of Web or "cloud"-based IT services and super-smart mobile phone and tablet technology, as embodied by the iPhone and the iPad, has given birth to a universe of weird and wonderful pieces of software brimming with all sorts of information and tools.


Apps combine the unique features of the new wave of super-clever hardware -- including a camera, a global positioning system, a high-resolution screen and Wi-Fi capability -- with a bottomless pit of Web-based information and data to deliver some truly innovative and mind-boggling gizmos.

 

Far from losing relevance, the networking giant continues to perform solidly while making steady progress toward sharpening its game plan.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 13, 2012 11:33AM

Wall St. © Photographers Choice RF, SuperStockDavid Sterman, StreetAuthority


Investors have been more squarely focused on the consumer end of the tech landscape, bidding ups shares of Apple (AAPL), Google, (GOOG), Amazon.com (AMZN) and others. But on the business end of high-tech, the big winners haven't been such industry leaders.


Instead, most gains have come from small but growing software and data-storage providers. 


But this theme may be upended in 2013, as one of the most dominant companies in the enterprise space regains its mojo. I'm talking about Cisco Systems (CSCO), which has had little to show investors during the past five years. 

 

The revamped service is designed to be faster and easier to navigate with smartphones and tablets.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 12, 2012 12:07PM
By Douglas MacMillan and Brian Womack for Bloomberg Bloomberg logo

Yahoo (YHOO) upgraded its e-mail service to woo mobile users, the first major product unveiling since CEO Marissa Mayer took over with a mandate to improve tools and services to lure back customers.


The revamped e-mail service is designed to be faster and easier to navigate on the Internet, smartphones and tablets, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company said Dec. 11 in a Web posting.


Mayer, a former Google (GOOG) executive, is seeking to reverse three straight annual sales declines by updating widely used products, including mail, the Yahoo Messenger chat service and Yahoo's home page. The efforts will likely stoke competition with her former employer, which has added millions of users to Gmail as Yahoo Mail has stagnated.


"I don't think this in itself will be what saves Yahoo," Shar VanBoskirk, an analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview. "This looks like a nice feature set. It certainly looks like it will be a cleaner experience for e-mail users."


The shares have gained 21% this year.


Comeback strategy

Versions of Yahoo's new email service will be available for devices running software such as Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8, as well as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPad and machines powered by Google's Android operating system. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)


"Because mobile is everything these days, Yahoo! Mail now has a consistent look and feel across devices," Mayer said on the blog.


Yahoo products have failed to keep up with changes in online habits, the chief executive said on a call with analysts in October.


Internet communication is "primed to be re-imagined," Mayer said on the call. "There is great opportunity to modernize Yahoo Mail and Messenger, especially given the continual increase in the amount of communication we're all receiving."


Mayer has said she plans to invest in hiring engineers with expertise in mobile applications, boosting the company's technology for buying and serving ads, and building services that are more personalized for individual users.


The chief executive kicked off her Yahoo comeback strategy by hiring several senior deputies, including Henrique de Castro, previously Google's vice president of global partner business solutions, as operating chief. Mayer promoted Adam Cahan, the founder of a social-TV startup acquired by the Web portal last year, to lead mobile services at the company.


Yahoo's U.S. email user base slipped to 77.7 million people in November, down from 92 million a year earlier, according to market researcher ComScore.


More from Bloomberg:

·         What $1 billion was worth in tech in 2012

·         Buying Groupon hard for anyone as growth slows

·        Google: Android winning mobile war with Apple

 

 

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