Reflections on a year without cable
Having cut the cord 12 months ago, a long-time subscriber answers the question: Is it possible to survive on Netflix and Hulu alone?
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?
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I have been married for over 25 years and my spouse and I have never paid for television: No cable, no satellite, and yes, we have a television with a D/A converter box.
In addition, neither of us have cell phone plans.
We pay for our daughters college [will for a second daughter too], own our home, and drive 2 fairly new vehicles paid for. We have retirement accounts that will allow us to retire around our 55-56th birthdays; and by no means are we rich.
"Waste of money. Period."
Never will come back...
Goodbye commercials, goodbye groupthink.
netflix streaming at $8 a month 24-7, verses cable for a minimum of $45 with stations i never watch, and excessive commercials and 20 year old reruns.
hmmmm.....such a hard choice.....
We don't watch more than the occasional broadcast PBS special and the weather now, probably 4 hours total a week. Modern programs have no morals to the stories, just mindless busybody/gossip drivel, violence and murder, mass rejection, or cop shows. Total waste of time.
My rate mysteriously jumped from 124 to 167 and I have spent 3 days on hold for more than 1/2 until i give up. They know what they are doing and couldn't care less how any of us feel. I was standing in line at the bank and heard a young woman say to the teller. "They all lie, lieing is how they operate".
People look at me like I have a horn on my head when I tell them that we gave up on cable since 2004. We don't miss it! Internet TV, DVD, Netflix compensates plenty. Not to mention that my brother has more DVDs than Blockerbuster we never miss anything!
I recently flipped channels through my sister's TV since they have cable and surprisingly there was nothing on but reruns that I can catch on syndication! Not missing much!
Yah, what's the big deal? It's not a big deal to go a year without television! And you only went without cable, and you used your parents HBO Go. PUH-LEEZE! Pathetic is what your story is. We don't use television. Granted, if something we like is on youtube, we will hook the cord up to the TV, but I don't miss it at all! Was at a hotel & thought it would be cool to "flip channels" but hey, we decided reading with the children was, is, and always will be a much better way to spend our time.
Perhaps if parents spent TIME with their children, instead of letting them veg out infront of a screen for hours a day, we would have a much better society in whole. We can teach our children to cook, sew, craft, wood work, machanical workings. If we're not teaching our children necessary skills to be productive adults, what are they learning besides the BS they see on TV?
~Network TV Free Since 2006
The Internet gives me Craig Ferguson and all the news and financial ticker I can eat, no charge. HD over-the-air gets me all the HD sports I'm interested in, PBS Newshour, and such. I pay attention to the hot series that are on premium cable and there's always one or more of them winding up. In the ensuing year I buy the DVD series collection for a song. (If anything is any good, it's worth watching multiple times, and attending the commentary tracks at some point.)
No one has more than 24 hours in the day. Cable needs it all. Sorry, A-V entertainment as I've recounted, above, is already plenty out of hand!
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