He Said/She Said: To cord cut or not to cord cut?

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?

Diane said: 

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.

I’ve written about the cord-cutting experience at length a couple of times already, but in short: it wasn’t a financial decision, exactly — it was a cost/benefit decision.

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.

Greg said:

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.



3 thoughts on “He Said/She Said: To cord cut or not to cord cut?”

  1. My family actually shares a satellite account with our in-laws because we wouldn’t be able to afford the $110 satellite bill each month on our own. Its a practice many people I know do because there is no cable in many rural and semi-rural places (we live in a villiage of 70 people). My in-laws are in another province now but we are still able to do that–we just can’t plug in our phone lines so the company can see. One drawback to that though is that we had to buy our DVR receiver outright because now the company requires that rentals be installed by a technician and ours is not the address listed for the account. Our DVR quit working during the winter break and at $300, we couldn’t afford to get another one. It has been so annoying trying to watch shows live as we have a busy life with the kids (dance, soccer, etc.) and I work many evenings so we can’t usually watch when the shows we like are on. Without a DVR, we have no way of capturing missed episodes so lately we’ve been watching a lot of stuff online via downloading sites but the problem with that is we have satellite internet and there’s a bandwidth limit so at a certain point in the month we reach the cap. We are also tired of watching tv on an itty bitty screen when there’s a big screen tv in the other room. Therefore, cutting the cord is not for us.

  2. I too cut the cable about 4 years back and it was a exactly what Diane said: Cost vs. Benefit. I had a huge cable subscription with all the bells and whistles and surmised I only watched 5 channels. So spend almost a hundred bucks a month for 5 channels? It made and makes no sense. I miss a few shows that I am willing to pay specifically for but my wife and I are both happy without extra bill and save a good hunk of change. To me this was a quality issue. I would rather pay for the shows I watch and those shows are more readily available and more convenient streaming.

  3. My husband and I compromised – he’s allowed to have cable and I’m allowed to have wine. I never watch TV. Netflix is good enough for me.

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