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Summary:

Cable prices suck, you’re paying more for less — that’s the gist of a New York Times report that said cable prices have gone up 77 percent since 1996, almost double the rate of inflation. Adding insult to injury, we’re only watching 13 percent of the […]

Cable prices suck, you’re paying more for less — that’s the gist of a New York Times report that said cable prices have gone up 77 percent since 1996, almost double the rate of inflation. Adding insult to injury, we’re only watching 13 percent of the channels offered. I hate dealing with the cable company, but I just can’t seem to break up with it. Maybe NewTeeVee readers can offer a few suggestions to help me cut the cord.

There are three main reasons why I stay in this lopsided relationship: laziness, HD and discovery.

Laziness:
It’s hard to beat the one-stop shop of cable. It’s all right there at literally the touch of a button. It always works (well, almost always), I have a DVR built-in and on-demand movies to rent. All the channels I want are available, and within 10 seconds of sitting on the couch I’m entertained.

HD:
I bought the HD TV set, may as well enjoy HD content on it. TV shows on Hulu are great and convenient but are not in HD. I could stream HD content on ABC, but I’d have to watch it on my Mac, and then my only options are between Lost and McDreamy (I’m not a Dancing with the Stars fan like Liz). iTunes doesn’t offer HD versions of its TV shows, and lord knows how much that will cost when it does.

Discovery:
Yes, I know I don’t watch the vast majority of channels that are pumped into my house. At most, I watch a dozen, but if I only got stuff I liked, I wouldn’t stumble on stuff I didn’t know I’d like, or be able to easily try out a new show. Plus, there is a Zen-like satisfaction to flipping through channels and finding a cable oddity that I didn’t know existed (or maybe just enjoy the mindless flipping).

I know it can be done (Om did it). I know I don’t need cable in my life, and I’d probably get more done if I didn’t have it (do I really need to watch the mildly-amusing Bones just because it’s on right before House? No. No, I do not). I could spend that time writing a novel, or, as corporate would prefer, writing another blog post.

Who out there has cut the cord for good? What system do you use now (don’t say satellite), and how has it worked out for you?

  1. Although I didn’t ‘cut the cord’ I found myself without cable, survived it and have a manuscript of about 950 pages (the novel) as a result! I had cable service in my flat in Abu Dhabi provided by the local monopolist E-Vision who offered a basic channel line-up which suited my needs. But in late 2005 I had to spend some months up the coat in Dubai, launching a new free-to-air satellite channel. The crappy apartment I was housed in during that project phase had no television at all! The novel started to get written in longhand, in notebooks I filled while enjoying the Chardonnay at the nearest hotel.

    When I got back to Abu Dhabi I discovered that my cable subscription had expired… and I never bothered renewing it. I just kept on writing…

    http://www.aliceinparis2007.com

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  2. Over the past year I went from “Basic” cable to “Family” (26 channels) to “Limited Basic” (9 channels, all locals). That was when I realized that most of what I was watching on the cable channels was reruns. Constant reruns. If I want to see a particular show that’s not available on limited, I’ll watch it online. I still can’t cut the cord completely, I need my cable modem. But it’s better paying $13 a month for the limited basic than $50 a month for a lot of stuff I wasn’t watching anyway. Really, ask yourself — how many channels are you forced to take that you never watch at all?

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  3. For me, DSL sucks, so I have internet through Comcast. Second, satellites just never worked for me, especially when a storm was approaching, you did receive a 20 minute warning of snow/interference.

    I do need to drop HBO, I rarely watch it, especially after the Wire and Sopranos are gone. I rarely navigate over 75, unless I tune into ESPN news, the Encore channel group, HBO and the MTV set from time to time.

    When the Apple TV comes up with a subscription i will likely cut my services down to basic. Until then, I’m stuck watching how stuff is made and the history channel, trying my best to account for my $125 cable bill (including internet).

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  4. I’m actually trying to decide if I should go back to cable or if I should just get an over the air antenna right now. I haven’t had cable in 2 years and sometimes I miss being able to just turn on the TV and be entertained almost instantly. The reason I’m trying to make the decision between Cable and over the air though is because where I live I should be able to get ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS in HD over the air and it should only cost me about $60 for the antenna, but I would love to be able to watch TBS and TV Land so I don’t know what to do either.

    If I were you however, I would probably stick with cable, at least for another year or so. You have an HDTV and currently HD on the internet is a little hard to come by.

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  5. I get all my needs covered by d-addicts.com, the Wire and Sopranos on DVD, and renting blu-rays at my local video store. I have basic cable (which here in Sweden is like 16 channels) since it’s included in my rent but I never watch it. It works for me since I’m into Asian dramas, a few high quality series, and high quality movies.

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  6. I cut the cord last year when we realized that we preferred downloading our shows to watching them on the Comcast DVR. I wrote a lengthy blog post about how we did it:

    http://nattarbox.com/blog/2007/08/rejecting-cable-monopoly.html

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  7. Chris Albrecht Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Hey Nat,

    I read your post, and you’re an inspiration. I just don’t know if I’ll muster the energy to do all that. Though I think I’ll look into that Elgato device. Thanks!

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  8. I haven’t cut the cord either even though I know I should. It’s expensive and works poorly and yet I still really like VOD and I use it for the workout videos and for the kids shows. I guess that makes the ridiculous price of admission worthwhile. That and the fact that I just don’t think connecting your computer to your TV is ready for prime-time yet.

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  9. steamboat willie Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Um, it’s about SPORTS. That’s why we can’t quit cable anytime soon.

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  10. I still pay my cable co (Time Warner, which is crap) for their Internet pipe, but I recently canceled my actual cable TV subscription with them. Most of the stuff I watched on cable is now free on Veoh, Hulu, ABC.com, etc. I just plug my laptop into my flatscreen, which isn’t ideal, but it sure beats paying $70 a month plus tax. Losing my ESPN channels was painful, but now I just go down to my local sports bar and watch my games there.

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