Confessions of a cord cutter

Dear Cable,

It’s been 3 1/2 years since we said farewell. I wish I could say I’ve missed you, but I have learned to live without you and be happily commitment-free (except for those three-year contracts for internet and cell phone service).

Why did I break up with you? I’m no gold digger but it just wasn’t worth it anymore.  This will seem strange coming from someone who covers TV and follows the industry but I don’t watch all that many shows regularly. I had the most basic cable package I could get — and I had to pry it out  of my cable provider’s hands; they didn’t want to tell me it was available over the phone — but even then I was paying a lot for a lot of channels I didn’t watch. To get all the specialty channels I did want, I’d have had to go up several price points and get astronomically more channels I didn’t want.

So I was already supplementing my cable back then in order to watch what I wanted to watch.  I wouldn’t even care if what I’m paying now is equal or greater to what I was paying then (it’s not), as long as I was happy with what I had access to (I am).

Cable, I thought I would return to you once I realized how much I missed my Emmy and Oscar viewing, or when it became apparent that I couldn’t access all the shows I want to watch. At the very least I thought I’d set up an over the air antenna. I went so far as to buy a defective one (well, I didn’t know it was defective when I bought it) and return it, then didn’t bother to get another one.

I was surprised how quickly my viewing habits changed.

I became content to watch the shows I could get access to. I arranged award show viewings at friends’ houses or found it wasn’t such a hardship to miss them occasionally. I bought a Breaking Bad season pass from iTunes because that would have been a hardship.

Immediately after the split I was primarily using network websites and apps (and oh how terrible some of those viewing experiences were), but after the post I wrote shortly after breaking up with you I added Netflix and iTunes to my viewing repertoire, gulping entire shows at a  time when I used to swear I wasn’t a binge watcher.

I’m fortunate I’m not a sports fan. I know there are ways to get live sports events without cable but I haven’t had to bother finding out how. I’m also in a fortunate position of getting access to screeners of some shows by some Canadian and US networks. I love you guys. Though you own the cable companies too so … I don’t know. Maybe you could make it easier on me to give you more of my money again.

With the CRTC Talk TV public hearing currently taking place, my head is swimming with all the efforts to woo me back. Not me or my fellow cord cutters specifically, but the CRTC seems very concerned that Canadians find value in our broadcasting system. At least they’re concerned until September 19 and then they don’t want to hear from us any more.

What would it take for me to come back to you, cable? A cheap basic plan with at least the major Canadian networks that I could supplement with only the specialty channels I want. I don’t even care if they’re bundled somewhat, as long as I don’t have to order a ridiculous amount of what I don’t want in order to get what I do want.

I’m considering my options now and I don’t like what I see. Maybe the CRTC can play matchmaker and help us get back together. But I wish you wanted me back without having your hand forced.


9 thoughts on “Confessions of a cord cutter”

  1. Where I live we only can get expensive satellite tv as there’s no access to cable. I would cordcut myself but my so-called high-speed internet is not speedy enough to watch shows online. Netflix usually works okay for me and I’m not sure why but there’s just not enough shows on there for me. And my husband couldn’t live without Wild TV, the hunting channel. The kids are content to watch kids shows on Netflix though.

  2. So I live half a cord-cutters life as our new country home has “high speed” internet (note the use of literal air quotes) but no television. For the most part, we don’t miss it because our 2 year old runs the TV for most of the day. He can get what he wants on netflix or iTunes. But, the two things that we regularly view, local TV news and live sports, is so hard to get without cable. Turns out we can stream the local Global and CTV stations and TSN through an app. Guess what you need to get access? That’s right — a cable subscription. If we didn’t have it at the house, I suspect we’d suck it up and pay for satellite in the country. We just get by as is. Getting rid of it entirely seems impossible.

    1. Ooh fancy country house! Some of the CRTC discussion is about kids programming and I keep thinking there’s so much on Netflix I wonder if parents care much about it on conventional TV.

      I didn’t even mention news but I’m lucky in not caring about either sports or TV news. Long before I cut the cord I stopped watching news on TV and get it almost entirely online.

      1. I didn’t see the provisions about kids TV, but you are absolutely right; seems like a wasted effort on the CRTC’s part. There is such an abundance of kids content and they are far less picky viewers (don’t ask how many times I’ve watched each episode of Curious George).

      2. In my kids’ playroom all we have is Netflix. Little kids tend to want to watch the same things over and over and over and over so it’s great that when my 3-year-old requests Dora (as she always does) I can just switch it on whenever she wants. My 5-year-old is the same way except she watches this movie called Standing Ovation over and over and over and over, plus she watches the 5 episodes of the YTV show Cook’d that are saved on the DVR all the time–at least that’s Cancon, lol.

          1. Yeah, doesn’t surprise me. Saskatchewaners are used to being ignored. People from Saskatchewan seldom end up on Canadian reality shows which is a shame because we have the kookiest, most outlandish, and individualistic people in the country which would make for interesting tv. Oh well, we in this greatest province of Canada just accept that we were excluded from this competition for Canada’s smartest person because we’re too smart and it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the nation.

  3. Cord-never living in Vancouver here. Now that I’m graduated from university and have a job and income, I would actually like to have cable, but not on the terms it’s being offered by any of the companies. It’s been hilarious to hear BDUs argue to the CRTC that the pricing and packaging structure is not keeping people away from cable and that I am part of a non-existent market. “No one wants to buy this thing we have actively done everything in our power to avoid selling! Consumers are clearly what’s holding this back!”

    Out of curiosity, can you elaborate on the “basic” package you had from Shaw? Do they already make a skinny basic possible, as long as you’re ready to argue persistently for it?

    1. I feel the same way but the “cord nevers” are treated even more as the invisible people. You’re exactly right in the “No one wants to buy this thing we have actively done everything in our power to avoid selling! …” Some are saying the skinny basic won’t cover the cost of delivering the service but I have my doubts about that, too – plus some of us want a skinny basic plus some additional channels, just not in the configuration they’re selling now.

      It was so long ago I signed up for that package I don’t know what current state would be – definitely different. I’d had it before, and when I wanted to sign up with them again they said it wasn’t available so I asked them to send me info by mail (yes, snail mail) and there it was on their pre-printed brochure. I want to say it was up to channel 28 but that might have been after I increased the service – it had all the major Canadian and US broadcast networks and local stations anyway and not much more.

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