How and where do you watch television?
Times have changed. Growing up as I did back in the dark ages, televisions were black and white and had four channels. If you wanted to watch something else, you had to stand up (gasp!) and manually turn the dial. Since then, we have progressed through color, remotes, cable, VCRs, DVDs, satellites, movies on demand and Blu-Ray. Finally, most channels have taken to streaming their shows over the internet.
Because streaming shows means that we can watch what we want when we want, many of us have taken to watching television in this fashion. As I did some research on the effect this was having on cable companies, I was astonished at what I was reading. Cable companies are losing customers by the thousands every month. More and more people are deciding that they don’t need to spend their money on dozens of channels they will never watch.
For example, the cable company that supplies television to my area bundles packages. This means that for “basic” cable, I would pay for 68 channels of which I would watch maybe 8. If I want HBO or Showtime, there is an additional charge that is so high I can’t imagine paying it. My cable company is certainly not alone in providing its services in this fashion. For fun, I looked up cable companies in New York, Los Angeles and Kansas. Each of the ones I found does the same thing.
I am one who has “cut the cord,” a term I found while I was doing this research to describe people who no longer pay for cable. Instead, we stream the shows we want to watch over our computers, tablets or smartphones. I subscribe to Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime. I have also been known to download the occasional show from iTunes. All in, I spend about $20 a month on television, or about half what I would spend on cable.
Is it perfect? No. While most of the major networks stream their shows the next day on Hulu, CBS does not. This means that I have to watch Elementary and Vegas on their site and suffer through the endless commercials. And, for some reason that escapes me, CBS does not stream Person of Interest. I have to wait until the DVDs come out this summer to watch the second season.
Likewise, the premium channels only stream if you have a subscription through a cable company. This means that I either pay separately for shows like Game of Thrones and Parade’s End, or I wait for the DVDs. I tend to wait. The downside of waiting is that you are almost sure to be spoiled, at least to some degree. I have found that the upside, being able to marathon through an entire season, more than makes up for the delay.
There are two other areas that people who have cut the cord report that they miss. The first is live sports and the other is the cable news channels. I couldn’t care less about live sports and I was able to watch the smoke turn white last week just by streaming CNN. Some people also mentioned that they missed channel surfing. For me, the problem is not finding something to watch; it is deciding which shows in the long list of shows I am watching or want to watch I am in the mood to watch.
There are only two other times that I struggle without a cable box. The first is when I am writing my articles for the new shows, some of which do not stream. What I have found, however, is that there is enough online (either through the site airing the show or on YouTube) to get a real sense of the show; enough to know whether or not to recommend it. Additionally, I watch the awards shows live, but only because I don’t want to wait to see who wins.
So, while it is not perfect, I have cut the cord and I don’t miss it. What have you done? Do you still have a cable subscription and a DVR or do you stream? Both? Let us know.