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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We pulled the plug on our television years ago, and have not had television in our home for 28 years!!!! Television was terrible in 1985 with only a few notable programs. We could see the idiocy and poor programing becoming worse. Our children grew up without it and they thank us for this now that they are fully grown with their own children, who, incidentally, watch VERY little television.Today T.V. is a cesspool while our family is closer than ever. Pull the plug and discover how much more there is to life than the BOOB TUBE you will thank me for it.....
(yep, we're out there in numbers!
We have gone 2 full football seasons without cable and haven't missed a game, and now we get our TV in HD by antenna for free. If I have to pay for a show, it costs me far less than what cable cost and I waste far fewer Saturdays getting lost in a showing of "A Few Good Men" just cause I can't turn away from Tom Cruise in those dress blues.
My weight is down, I sleep better and I do more things all because I no longer have cable.
Wow it's so cool to see how many others cut cable. I've been cable free for a few years now and I don't miss it. Although when I tell people they look at me like I'm crazy. I agree with the "why pay for commercials?" comments.
With the internet becoming so robust and Netflix coming onto the scene, there really isn't any place for Pay-TV. My answer was an Antenna for local channels and a TV Tuner setup on my PC. It took a little work to setup Windows Media Center as a DVR but it's incredible. Add to that the Xbox 360 is an extender. It gives me TV in any room. Plus since all of the info is on the PC. Any Xbox 360 in the house can schedule or record shows.
I can't believe how much money I was spending on cable and how much I'm saving now. Plus cutting the cord lead to a great learning experience and a hobby for a while as far as setting up Cable's replacement.
I have not used cable in over a year. I have two sons, 19 & 5. My 19 yr old plays his HALO, etc and is online. With all of the crap you see on tv, I did not want my 5 year watching any of it. He has hundreds of movies and enjoys sitting with big bro or myself to snuggle up and just watch a good old fashions kids movie. This of coarse without half naked woman in commercials, foul language and gun toting bad guys. If I never see another cable box, which I was paying $160 a month for, it will be too soon.
**And out of that $160, $115 was for fees and taxes. Really!!!**
Cable Free in CT
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
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