Cutting Cable: Cost vs. Convenience
More than ever before, today’s technology gives you access to the programming you want without being a cable subscriber. Being a gadget hound, I’ve been reading about how combinations of Netflix streaming, PlayOn, Apple TV, iTunes, and other devices can pretty much get you the shows you watch without having to worry about channels like QVC.
As with most things, it’s very hard to take the plunge and try it. So I’m forever thankful of pieces like CNET’s Diary of a Cable TV Cord Cutter. In it, David Katzmaier and his wife go cold turkey and try to replace their cable by installing a huge HD antenna on their roof, subscribing to Hulu Plus, and using a couple of gadgets to do the rest.
This week the saga ended and David went back to cable. He could’ve saved money every month and he pretty much had the channels he wanted, so why couldn’t he make it work? Let’s run through his reasons:
- Spotty antenna reception: Major issues for him here, which sucks because if he was in a major city he’d probably be fine.
- Less programming than cable: He couldn’t get all his shows, but the deal breaker was sports. He couldn’t watch the games he wanted to. I’m still wondering if being a sports fan is a waste of time.
- Lack of DVR for Internet video: Ah, how spoiled we’ve become. Not being able to pause, forward, and replay what we watch has now become expected and his setup didn’t allow for it.
- More difficult to use: The big one, in my opinion. It’s just not very intuitive to have to run through all these different setups depending on what you want to watch.
Cable is Convenient
A couple of quotes from the CNET piece. First from David’s wife:
I hate to sound like a couch potato but there is nothing like turning on the tube for few minutes when you have down time and vegging out.
Regardless of whether or not you like to “veg out,” there’s a deep bit of truth in what she’s saying. When you’ve had a long day and just want to relax for a little bit, the last thing you want to do is fumble with several remotes and wait for services to connect and run through a bunch of menus.
Another quote, and it sums up the whole reason why cable will continue to thrive until someone solves the convenience problem:
A cable box with built-in DVR collects all of our programming in one easy-to-access location and interface, more painlessly and seamlessly than any antenna/Internet solution I’ve experienced.
When Will Cable Die?
If you’re wondering when we’ll all be “free” of our cable subscriptions and simply rely on all the online resources out there to watch TV, I can give you the answer. Traditional cable will die when someone makes it as easy as it is to watch cable TV today.
Think of Apple and the iPod revolution: MP3s and MP3 players had been around forever, but nobody had made it easy and convenient to buy and load music onto these players. Then Apple came along and, with iTunes, made it so anyone could do it. And it was actually fun.
In fact, it was so easy and convenient that people were willing to pay for music even though programs like Napster and Limewire allowed you to get them for free. But Apple won because of convenience.
Same thing with cable: what we’re paying for isn’t the slew of channels or the high-resolution picture. Cable is about getting home, plopping down on the couch, pressing one button, and letting the world of moving pictures wash over you without having to do a whole lot of thinking.
And right now, I don’t see an alternative if you still want to watch your favorite shows.
This post was included in the Frugal Feast Carnival.
Image by cloudzilla