I Can’t Remember When I Cut The Cord
Cable TV finally got the memo. We don’t need them.
I hate cable TV. It’s kind of a passive thing with me. I hate subscribing to it because I feel like I have to watch it in order to justify the expense. I just can’t justify paying for something that delivers commercials to my screen, too. I really don’t like the way commercials are designed to interrupt my train of thought. So long ago, I think around 2008, I cut the cord for sure.
I’ve had an on and off thing with TV. Sometimes I watch it, sometimes I don’t. I’m not much for TV schedules. I’ve used a VCR in the past. When I had satellite, I used their digital PVR, too. But even then, I saw the episodes piling up while life beckons.
For a long time, I didn’t watch much of anything, streaming or otherwise. I just wasn’t that into TV. I’d try watching for more than an hour and I’d get bored. I’d want something else to do. Like walking, talking, reading, riding a bike, playing ping pong, spending time with family and friends without the screen on, and on and on. TV just never really had that much power over me.
Even when I was a kid, I might watch a show I enjoyed for an hour, but that’s it. I think for most of my life, I could not stand more than an hour of TV for anything at one sitting. Even this morning, I’m up at 4. I could be watching a movie. But I’d rather be writing. I got a Kindle. I’d rather be reading if I didn’t write something instead.
There is something about the way I feel with a TV that I don’t get with other activities. In the morning, I want to create. In the evening, I want to chill and watch TV. But I have kids. I have a wife. I have bills to pay. I have housework to do. I have a big fat book to read that is 700 pages long and I’m about halfway through it.
I think a big part of my preferences around TV has to do with my hearing disability. I’m deaf in one ear and I’m partially deaf in the other ear, with a good dose of tinnitus. When I watch TV, I’m reading subtitles to pick out the words that are whisper quiet to me. But there is something else.
When I read, I don’t miss any words. The voice in my head has perfect fidelity. The knowledge that I get from reading is of a higher quality than can be produced in a video. Books are like beer bongs for knowledge,. And reading is very portable. I can take a book anywhere. I can take my phone pretty much anywhere. And with the Kindle, I can read in the dark.
So when I read this report at TechDirt, “Cable TV Execs Move Past Denial Stage, Now Fully Expect A ‘Cord Cutting’ Bloodbath”, I wasn’t surprised. In his article, Karl Bode mentions something else that I didn’t like about cable: relentless price hikes. This means that the cable TV industry is in serious decline as even Disney has retooled its enterprise for streaming.
I have been on internet-only plans for a long, long time. About 2 years ago, I got off the cable/phone duopoly and subscribed to a community fiber network called Utopia. With Utopia, they just do one thing and they do that very well: Internet access. Utopia provides the hardware, another company called XMission provides the network access. Together, they are so laser-focused on that one thing, that I get a gigabit connection up and down for $80 a month. I will eventually own the connection from their network, too. Once I own it, my cost is $50 a month to XMission, minus the $30 monthly installment payment on a ten-year loan.
In the two years that I’ve been with Utopia and XMission, my rates have never gone up. I have seen only one service interruption from them, and that was because someone had managed to cut their cable. These guys are pros and they figured out where the cut was and made repairs in a few hours.
Since then, I have not missed cable at all. I am glad to see the ground shifting under the cable industry. I am glad to see that people can stop paying for sports when they don’t watch it. I hated paying for ESPN when the networks I really wanted were in a higher tier. And I’m so glad I’m not subsidizing FOX anymore. Ptah!
I subscribe to what I want, a la carte. I’ve got Prime, Netflix, and Disney. That’s enough. I tried Sundance, but that’s all serial killer documentaries. I’ve tried A&E and that’s more serial killer documentaries. My kids found something really funny to watch on Netflix yesterday, and I was laughing out loud. So I’ll watch that with them because the characters don’t really speak a language. It’s all body language.
But I’m done with cable. I hope that by 2024, they’re nothing but ISPs subject to Title II regulation and then we cut to the chase and regulate them like the utilities that they deny that they are. The internet is now a utility service for me. it’s that reliable. And while we’re at it, we can run fiber to every address in the country and regulate that like a utility. Then everyone will have gigabit or better for internet access, work and school. See? No more digital divide!
The business model of cable TV is dead. In ten years, kids won’t even know what it was, and I can live with that.