Join Greg and Diane on Mondays as we debate a TV-related issue that’s on our minds. This week: to cut the television cable cord or not?
I cut the cord nearly four years ago, and it’s only recently I starting thinking about exploring the possibility of subscribing again to a very basic cable service if I could find one. (Hi Talk TV — when are you going to make a decision on skinny basic?) Instead I bought an over-the-air antenna — something I’ve been meaning to do for nearly four years. Now I can channel surf and watch the Oscars, all in free high definition, and my life is complete.
Given I barely missed over-the-air TV in that time, it’s safe to say I haven’t missed cable. I cobble together what I do watch from network websites and apps, network-supplied screeners, Netflix, iTunes, friends’ houses, and … other means.
This will sound odd from someone who started a website about television, but I don’t watch a ton of television. So I resented paying an exorbitant amount for a slew of cable channels I mostly didn’t watch that didn’t even include all the shows I want to watch.
It’s not fully rational, but I would rather pay more through individual subscription and season pass fees to get exactly what I want than pay one giant corporation to sell me what I don’t want.
I’m lucky in that I’ve never cared for live sports or television news. In my cable TV days I had a PVR (at one point the open-source MythTV) and recorded my shows for later commercial-fast-forwarded-through viewing. I never did much channel surfing.
I wasn’t trained to channel surf. We didn’t always have cable when I was a kid, got a VCR in the early days of that magical technology, and I’ve had periods as an adult where I haven’t had a TV, never mind cable. (That’s not a hoity toity “I don’t watch [sniff] television” mentality, that’s an “I was a starving university student/arts administrator/non-profit employee/Mexico ex-pat” mentality.) I love many television shows, but I can easily live without television.
Not that I want to. I just want to live without a cable bill.
Diane fascinates me, simply because she’s able to live her life without cable television. Me? I can’t imagine my life without it. Yes, I have Netflix, so perhaps I’ve taken that all-important step towards a cable-free life, but I don’t think so.
I grew up in a household that had all of the cable channels available. As a result, I’ve done the same as an adult. Even before I became a television critic I was watching as many different things on the small screen as I could and I’d miss it if all that went away. I know I’m paying a lofty price for my addiction—a fact that pains me every time I get an email from the cable company telling me the latest bill has arrived—but I simply can’t live without the choice it offers me.
Feel like watching John Catucci visit the latest restaurant? I tune in to Food Network. Got a hankering to check out the Jays on a lazy Sunday afternoon in the summer? Sportsnet. What big-screen movie or documentary might catch my eye as I’m rolling through the channels? The Movie Network has me covered. Pair all those options with my PVR and I can keep myself entertained for awhile.
Cutting the cord would be like cutting off my right arm, the one that runs the remote. I just can’t do it.
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