Please, Keep Paying $80 a Month for Cable So I Can Enjoy Cheap TV

Please, Keep Paying $80 a Month for Cable So I Can Enjoy Cheap TV

Dear Cable TV Subscriber,

I don’t think I’ve ever told you how grateful I am. I haven’t paid a cent for cable television since 2009. Yet I have on-demand access via the Internet to a growing cornucopia of great shows like Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, at reasonable à la carte prices. And it’s all because you continue to pay exorbitant and ever-increasing monthly fees for your premium cable bundle (around $80 per month, on average).

After all, your money goes straight to the studios and networks that produce and distribute all the expensive first-run programming that I’m perfectly happy to watch later at a discount. So in effect, you’re subsidizing my own footloose, freeloading, cord-cutting TV habits. I don’t know how to thank you!

Of course, it’s not like you volunteered to underwrite my TV viewing, or to pay so much to your cable provider. For well over a decade now, cable TV bills have been growing faster than inflation: they averaged just $40 per month per household in 2001, but grew to $78 per month by 2011 ($128 if you count bundled services such as Internet and telephone).

The main reason? The rising cost of all those great shows. Game of Thrones costs $6 million per episode. ESPN pays the NFL $1.9 billion a year for the rights to Monday Night Football. The networks pass those costs to the cable companies, and the cable companies pass them on to you.

The cable companies like to pretend that the networks have them, and therefore you, over a barrel; in 2011, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei famously decried ESPN’s rising fees as “a tax on every American household.” In reality, it’s all one big well-greased wheel. The cable companies are glad to pay for premium channels like ESPN and HBO—and all of the less popular content bundled with them—because they know you wouldn’t fork over nearly as much every month if you didn’t have to go to them for live sports and lush serial dramas.

Incidentally, I sure hope all the news lately about the devastating effects of repeated concussions on the brains of football players doesn’t end up taking the luster off the sport. After all, when most of you non-cord-cutters say you couldn’t do without live sports, you’re really talking about the gridiron—eight of the 10 most-watched shows on network and cable television in 2012 were football games. That makes the National Football League, which raked in more than $9 billion last year, the keystone of the entire TV economy. It would be such a shame if growing public awareness of the sport’s dangers diminished the NFL’s power to drive up the cost of your cable bill.

You know what makes me especially grateful? The fact that only a fraction of you have started using the streaming services that give me access to so much great video content. Netflix, by far the most successful Internet-based TV service, finished 2012 with only 27 million streaming subscribers in the U.S., compared to 99 million pay-TV subscribers across the leading cable and satellite TV providers. It’s true that the boom times are over for the cable companies: pay-TV viewing peaked in 2011, and some 200,000 to 600,000 of you are cutting the cord each quarter. But the bloodletting hasn’t yet reached the kind of volume that might force the big TV-industry players to rethink their business models, thank goodness.

The worst outcome for my wallet would be if more of you defected to platforms like Apple TV (which happens to be my own gateway to Netflix, movie rentals, and oodles of free programming from sources like Vevo, YouTube, and Vimeo, not to mention streaming music, podcasts, and radio). Or if lots of you plunked down $35 for Google’s remarkable little Chromecast device, which plugs into an HDMI port on users’ TVs and lets them call up content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Google Play Movies, and the open Web from their tablets or smartphones. Or if you spent more time watching the galaxy of on-demand TV shows available through your Xbox game console. Don’t fall for the talk from Apple, Google, and Microsoft about the freedom and variety of on-demand video! They’re just trying to entice you away from the safe, warm embrace of your cable provider.

And whatever you do, don’t subscribe to Aereo, the startup that streams live TV to your computer, tablet, or smartphone using tiny antennae that suck in over-the-air broadcasts. The traditional broadcasters are trying to sue Aereo out of existence, because they know that if the startup actually succeeds, they’ll have a harder time hitting the cable companies with high retransmission fees—which add to your cable bills and help keep the whole industry afloat.

Let me also say how grateful I am that you put up with all the ads that come along with your cable programming. Personally, I’m allergic to commercials—I canceled my Hulu Plus subscription after two weeks because they were asking me to pay $8 a month and watch a bunch of ads, for Pete’s sake. But I realize that somebody has to watch all those ads, which generate about $80 billion in revenue every year for U.S. media companies. My friend Jeremy Toeman, the CEO of Dijit Media, scolded me the other day for my antisocial behavior. “If everybody did what you did, there would have to be a massive shift in the system,” he said. “The McDonalds and Coors and Fords of the world would say ‘No thank you.’”

In short, my cushy life as a TV free rider is only feasible because there lots of people like you who aren’t switching to Internet-only video. So please, keep on subsidizing my high-quality, low-cost couch surfing experience by paying your big cable bills for as long as you can. If you don’t want to do it for cord-cutters like me, then do it for the rising generation of cord-nevers—young people who could probably afford to have cable, but are too busy texting each other and playing Angry Birds to watch live TV. After all, the truly worrisome statistic for the cable industry isn’t that it’s losing hundreds of thousands of existing subscribers every year; it’s that only 250,000 of the 3.2 million new TV households that came into existence over the last three years bothered to sign up for cable in the first place.

The cord-nevers may not appreciate your sacrifice, but I will. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Wade

The Author

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com.

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  • fartz

    Yes people pay for the experience to talk about the new ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ around the water cooler, something you probably don’t get invited to much.

    • http://chadwithuhc.com/ chadwithuhc

      stupid cheap shot, but i thought it was funny.

  • Grapes

    I don’t get it. You have to pay for Aereo, you have to pay for Netflix, you have to pay for digital downloads of Game of Thrones and other rentals via Apple. I can skip all the commercials via DVR. The only reason I still have cable is for live sports.

    • andremp

      His point is that although he pays for those services the cost of content from them is subsidized by you paying a really high cable bill (sort of the entire point of the article).

      Without cable, Netflix would have to pay significantly more for it’s TV content, and as a result charge more.

      • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

        Yes, that’s exactly my point. Thanks @andremp. You’re right that I pay for digital streaming, @Grapes, but my monthly TV budget is less than $20 ($8 for Netflix and the rest for movie rentals from iTunes).

        • CrewF24

          I think you need to look at that budget figure again… otherwise there is no way you are really watching all the shows you mention, and definitely not the other dozens of award winning TV shows you didn’t mention? It’s easily arguable that because people are willing to pay more for cable the quality of TV programming has also increased tremendously. Your friend Jeremy is right about your antisocial behavior… good luck finding someone to talk to about Breaking Bad in 12 months when if finally makes it to Netflix.

          • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

            CrewF24: Valid question. Let’s do the math. At iTunes, season passes for Mad Men cost $35. For Game of Thrones, $39. For Homeland, $32. Assuming you don’t binge but instead watch one season of each show per year, that adds up to $106 per year or just under $9 per month. I don’t have to pay extra for Breaking Bad since Netflix has all five seasons.

            I guess one down side of cord-cutting is that you have to make lots of micro-decisions about what programming you want to pay for. For example, Amazon Instant Video has stolen Downton Abbey away from Netflix. If I want to watch Season 4 I’ll have to pony up $79 for Amazon Prime. I’m still on the fence about that.

          • VioletVal

            If you’d like to see season 4 of Downton Abbey, you can watch it for free at pbs.org. The season 4 episodes will be online there until March 9th.

  • sprior

    So who are you paying for your Internet connection? You probably aren’t quite as much of a cord cutter as you’d like to be.

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      My Internet provider is Webpass (http://www.webpass.net). $450 per year or $37.50 per month for 100 megabits per second up and down. So yes, I’m still paying for data. But at least I’m not paying Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T.

      • sprior

        That’s an option unfortunately available to a VERY small percentage of the population.

        • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

          True. Too many people are obliged to pay the cable companies for Internet access – partly thanks to the government-enabled monopolies that Jessica Darko mentions elsewhere in this thread.

      • tab

        +1 for WebPass! I use them to cut the cord as well and they’re awesome. Unlike typical internet connections, it even has enough upload that I’m able to stream US-specific content (Hulu, Netflix, etc) when I’m in Europe over a VPN connection. Most internet connections can’t handle that.

      • jackeyb

        That’s a lot more than I pay for the broadband. So when you add Netflix, Aero and your downloads on top of it, you’re paying more than i pay for cable including HBO. Also, keeping bragging and let those services know how ‘little’ your paying as well. If you actually believe those services will remain inexpensive, you have little knowledge of the history of cable TV and it’s very inexpensive beginnings.

  • 5up Mushroom

    I’ve thought about cable cutting, but I just can’t bear to have to switch from service to service to watch a show. I want to flip channels, I want to see what’s on now, I want it in HD without any graininess, and I don’t want feel the pressure to illegally download a show. I use a custom built DVR using a HDHomeRun Prime with MythTV and XBMC, and it just wouldn’t be as awesome without a cablecard in the mix. For now, I’m keeping my overpriced, shitty-customer-service cable bill. And.. you’re welcome.

    • CrewF24

      I would also like to say you’re welcome… and despite the passive aggressive nature of the article it does a great job summarizing the services that are out there. I just don’t think it’s a valid argument to make that it’s even close to a comparable experience… try consuming television this way with a wife and kids and you quickly realize that $80/mo is well worth the convenience.

      • billdamon

        I agree with the quality issue. It varies by service and even by show/movies within a service. That’s still an issue.

      • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

        5up Mushroom and CrewF24: I wasn’t arguing that my combination of video sources is comparable to premium cable, and I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad for being comfortable with their current service. As someone pointed out elsewhere in the thread, the shows you get for that high price are pretty amazing, and are arguably better than what was on offer before monthly cable bills went through the roof. I’m just saying that if you like TV, and you don’t care about seeing first-run content at the same time as everyone else, there are now many ways to access good content without buying into the expensive network-imposed bundles.

        • joeaverage21

          All these first run shows are still new to me even if they are last year’s TV. I don’t care.

      • joeaverage21

        I have a wife and kids and we consume our TV exactly this way. Even the eight year old has it figured out.

  • Justin Case

    Please. keep paying $12 a month for Netflix, so I can just download and watch it later off my Home Media Server for free.

    …is what I would say if I pirated media

  • Jon

    If MLB.TV wouldn’t black out in-market games, I’d cut the cord tomorrow. I don’t care about the NFL, and ESPN is a waste of bandwidth.

    • http://alexandretestu.com/ Alexandre

      I suggest you look into https://adfreetime.com/ (it fools MLB into thinking you’re in a different region without blackouts, like Europe for instance)

      • billdamon

        That’s also known as stealing.

        • http://alexandretestu.com/ Alexandre

          I get your point but he’d still be paying for MLB.TV

          • billdamon

            Yes. But the reason MLB.TV is priced the way it is, is because it does not include local games. It would cost MUCH more if it did. He’s not paying for that.

  • Don W.

    For news cord cutters, use http://tiltview.com .

  • Jessica Darko

    Part of the situation you seem to have missed is that the cable industry is a government created monopoly. If there were competition in this space, prices would come down as people would happily get their cable from a cheaper provider. But local municipalities create the monopoly, and give your local cable company the exclusive right to offer you this service, in exchange for extraordinary fees from the cable company. Or put another way, it’s a back-room tax.

    If enough people cut cords, then the municipality will start enacting other taxes– after all, there’s nothing a government can’t stand more than being deprived of its ability to steal.

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      I think that’s completely on target, Jessica. You can’t blame the cable companies too much for exploiting such an irresistible government sinecure.

    • billdamon

      There are plenty of areas now where it is an open market not “a government controlled monopoly”. Where I live I have 4 different cable options. My girlfriend’s city has 5 or 6. There are still lots of areas that only have one option. Many of those are because the cable companies don’t want to invest in those areas. That also has nothing to do with the government.

  • Cowicide

    It was sassy, but I approve and agree with this article. :)

  • http://chadwithuhc.com/ chadwithuhc

    I’ve looked into getting HBOGO and they told me you have to subscribe through your cable company. How are you watching Game of Thrones without subscribing through the Cable company or pirating?

    • prittjr

      you can buy seasons/episodes online through services like Google Play

    • Guest

      Ahh. I always forget about that because it still seems expensive to me… One season isn’t so bad, but when these shows are lasting 8, 9+ seasons…

      Then again, I guess thats the same price as you’d pay if you were to buy a box set DVD or BluRay.

      $6m per episode!?!? That’s almost as bad as the Government.

      • mobilemann

        I enjoy the production value, would you rather it be like Conan?

    • Tavis Oehley

      Google Play Movies & TV

      • billdamon

        You can’t buy the latest season though. I always read articles like this and laugh. The author never once mentions that you can’t watch most things on time. It is always delayed.

        A different want to write this article would be as a cable subscriber who thanks all the cord cutters for watching old stuff and paying for it. That reduces the cost of my cable.

        • Sapko82

          Yes he does

          “After all, your money goes straight to the studios and networks that produce and distribute all the expensive first-run programming that I’m
          perfectly happy to watch later at heavily discounted prices.”

          • anonymous

            I was talking about netflix reducing the cost of his cable. The article is about cable reducing the cost of his viewing via netflix. My comment was directed at billdamon.

          • anonymous

            Sapki82, ignore my comment. Meant for others.

          • billdamon

            Thanks, Sapko. Missed that.

        • anonymous

          It doesn’t reduce the cost of your cable.

          • billdamon

            How do you know it hasn’t?

            I would probably actually argue more that the added revenue streams of people paying premium pricing for older content (compared to what they used to get for older content) has driven the TV industry to develop better shows more than it has reduced my overall cable cost.

            But… the cost of my cable is going up much slower now than it has in the past at a time when the quality of programs has gone up quite a bit. So I am getting much more high quality, first run programming at a lower cost per program.

  • http://longgame.org/ Matt Warren

    Back when television schedules ruled the world, it was much easier to justify the expense of cable. Now it has all the market appeal of a high-priced, frivilous, luxury good. The climbing price sure doesn’t help matters. I find myself in exactly the spot the author is in. I’m very happy that others can afford it, because I sure can’t.

  • http://sisyph.us/ ErikSchwartz

    You can pay $75 a month for TV and $50 a month for internet or you can pay $125 month for internet and nothing for TV.

    Either way you are going to be paying your MSO $125 a month. They do not care if they amortize their investment over one product or two.

    • Nick

      I don’t know where you live or if your facts are even true, but I have 35mbps cable Internet for $35 a month. When my 2 years are up and they raise my price to the off contact rate of 70 bucks, I’ll call them and tell them the other provider in my area is offering a similar service for cheaper, and my isp will gladly offer me Internet for $35 month again . been doing that for 8 years now.

      • mobilemann

        35Mbps both ways?

  • Funonymous

    Wade, tell us what services you are paying for and how much it’s costing you. Netflix is one you mentioned. What else?

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      As I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, my direct TV-related expenses are about $20 per month, and never more than $30. That’s $8 for Netflix and $12-22 for miscellaneous movie rentals and season passes. I tried Hulu Plus for $8/month and opted not to continue when the free trial period ended, because of all the commercials.

      If you wanted to count my Internet service as part of my TV budget, that would add another $37.50 per month. But that’s the same connection I use for everything else (work, iPad/iPhone, streaming music, podcasts, etc.). Even if you count that, my “telecommunications” expenses are half that of the average cable TV/phone/Internet bundle ($128/mo).

      By the way, I hope readers understand that I wasn’t trying to be a snide dick. The “Dear Cable TV Subscriber” format is satirical. I’m not saying that I’m the first to discover Internet video, or that I’m smarter than everyone else for sidestepping the cable monopolies. I was just trying to rile people up a bit about their high cable bills, while highlighting the growing range of alternatives.

      • produceher

        It’s a shame that you have to clarify your point. What’s the point of being smart if your audience isn’t. :)

        But more to the point, us cord-cutters are getting a sweet deal right now. Before the internet providers start charging us for usage or just jacking up their rates and throwing in free tv service. These are the glory days. Enjoy them.

      • danrayburn

        And while “alternatives” did you highlight? Netflix and Hulu? We’ve all heard of those before. What you didn’t say or do is compare them to cable. Which devices are they on? At what quality? With what kind of content inventory? You really have no idea.

        Yes, you mentioned Aereo. What you didn’t mention is that they have just 22 channels in NYC that aren’t spanish or asian based and of those 22, two of them are home shopping and at least six (Cozi, ION, Bounce, Antenna, ThisTV etc) are ones no one has ever heard of. So of that 22, in reality they have 10 – at most – you might want to watch.

        But somehow you think your article is educating your readers on their alternatives? It’s a clear bait article to get people all worked up, to boost your page views. If it was a real piece, it would include real details, with first-hand knowledge – which it’s clear you do not have.

        • Hammer

          @danrayburn:disqus You must work for the cable company. Shut up! Nobody cares what you have to say. Your comments are irrelevant to anything being said and helps nobody here. All wade was doing was sharing alternatives for anybody that doesn’t know about. Im sorry that either you like the cable companies d*** up your a** or your trying to sell something…

  • ipgrunt

    You don’t have to be young and proud of it to refuse paying for commercials, reruns, made for TV movies, and all the other junk on TV.

    Cable offered the promise of public access when Viacom was running coax down public right-of-ways at taxpayer expense. Young people don’t realize that most cable runs through public streets that you pay for with your taxes. Cable used to be free, children. Only HBO was pay-per-view.

    Game of Thrones — who cares? There are more important things in our society to talk about at the ‘water cooler’ — like what you’re not getting for your tax money, and who your elected representatives really serve. (Hint: follow the money at opensecrets.org)

    Unplug from the so-called entertainment grid — your mind will be happy that you did.

  • Tyhudg

    If you are a sports fan and don’t like to steal you don’t really have a choice in the matter. I like to watch the Habs, but can’t night in night out without cable/sattelite TV. I like to watch the blue jays, and it is much the same. I don’t mind paying $50 a month so I can watch sports year round that aren’t subject to blackouts.

    Keep in mind that just because you cut the cord doesn’t mean everybody who hasn’t is a moron. Certain people value certain aspects of various services over others. I don’t think it is fair to insult people with pretentious blather simply because you found a more cost effective way for YOU to enjoy TV. Thanks though.

    • Tim Hicks

      Best response.

  • AlanSmithee

    Problem is, as always, everyone’s out to make a buck, and the consumer gets shafted. Is it really necessary to pass on the $4 remote control fees, or the $10 box thats *required* to use their service, etc etc. Doesn’t help when Disney will only sell ESPN if bundled with a ton of other channels and essentially strong-arm the cable co. into forcing it down the customer’s throat.

  • guest

    $80/month is a lot of money?

    • joex444

      Feel free to pay me $80/mo until you think it is.

      • Tim Hicks

        Are you offering him some sort of service, such as cable tv?

    • DrWhoWhat

      More sometimes. I was up to forking over $138/mo for only Tv + Internet at the point that I cried uncle and cancelled the TV completely. And mind you, I was not getting all the bells and whistles and extras — it was only what they call Uverse 200 from AT&T.

  • DisquisTL

    “After all, your money goes straight to the studios and networks that produce and distribute all the expensive first-run programming”

    Now I’m feeling terrible for all those not-for-profit cable companies!

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      Touche. I should have said “some of your money.” Obviously the cable companies keep their share.

  • Bundalo_Kreegah

    I always love you cord-cutter guys, flatulating about people who pay for cable. A question, Butthead: How do you get your Internet access?

    I live in a large (35,000) suburb of a major city, and I have two options for broadband. Pay $20 a month for 3MB from the phone company (which means I also have to buy a landline for $20-odd) or get 12-MB it from the cable company for $35– which ALSO requires me to buy their base product.

    I could try satellite or wireless access. I did try it. That got me a whopping 1.5MB on good days. Felt like I was using dialup to AOL again

    That’s why 80% of the country has what the FTC considers broadband. 44% through cable; 36% through phone lines. Do you get your pixels delivered by little elves?

    So Shut Uppa You Face. Most people take cable because it’s the best option.

    • Bastoid

      Fiber my friend, is where it’s at. That is the future.
      Albeit, we’re not living in the future yet.

      But it’s retarded old school unregulated and consumer adverse business practices that are to blame for you having to pay for cable TV when all you want is Internet access.

      It’s a business strategy that is all to common in the US. “So the consumer really want or need product A? Well, lets make sure he can only get it as a bundle with overpriced shitty product B”.

      It’s the same strategy cell phone companies use.

      Here in Norway I have cable to my home. I can choose any one, or all of their products over that cable: TV, Internet and/or phone. Demanding I buy any of the other products to get the one I need would be illegal. Allthough they can choose to give a lower overall cost if I chose more than one of their products.

      I’ve chosen the 70/10Mbit line, and pay about $100 for it.

      The only problem is that they own the cable, so in practicality they are a monopolist in this building. I am locked to which ever provider the lanf lord choose.

      That is about to change, dramatically.

      There a new company in town. They are rolling out fiber. But their business model isn’t to provide Internet access themselves (nor TV). They rent out the infrastructure to other providers at a very low cost, where you as the consumer can choose freely amongst said providers. That wiøl incent a new go in competition amongst providers, to the consumers benefit.

      You, the US consumer, has gotten way to used to getting f**ked over in the market place. No regulations means companies get to do as they please. You need to start making demands!

      • Bundalo_Kreegah

        What we are watching is a replay of the rollout of both electricity and telephone service in the Continental United States. Everything that’s going on here– the exorbitant prices and profit margins, the refusal to wire certain areas or upgrade others (no matter how much the technology changed)– took place roughly 100 years ago.

        This problem was not solved by innovative entrepreneurship, as idiots like Chamath Palihapitiya (who probably is a butt-buddy of Mr. Roush) claim. The government began passing laws saying “You have to wire everyone and if you don’t, we will.”

        The concern here is that we’re not going to do that– partly because the extreme right-wing hates government and partly because of their gauleiters who don’t understand there is a policy crisis

    • invisiblebastard

      I’ve never read a more butt hurt reply.

      • Bundalo_Kreegah

        No, just contemptuous of morons who bloviate without having any idea of what they are talking about. This is a serious policy issue that will probably end up requiring federal laws; the notion that anyone would write about this topic without understanding the very real issues is offensive

        That Wade Roush is “Xconomy’s chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco”– that someone thinks this idiot has anything meaningful about any topic to say– is a sign that nothing Xconomy says deserves attention from intelligent people.

        Can’t wait for Roush’s “Go ahead women, keep making 78% of what men make– I like having a high salary” piece.

        • Dave

          Sorry, you’re response still sounds like butt hurt. I cut cable but still pay Comcast for internet only. If you really have to buy their base product to just get internet than I understand the butt hurt. Sure, I’m still paying Comcast but I’m paying them thousands less/year and getting more. I won’t bash Comcast for their internet service only for their outrageous cable pricing. I’ll also bash the content providers for driving the customers toward piracy which is superior for its simplicity and service. I’d pay for the kind of service BitTorrent provides me. I actually do pay for it but from Netflix.

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      Bundalo_Kreegah: Thanks for your spirited comments, here and below.

      My real contempt, in case it wasn’t obvious, is not for cable subscribers — it’s for the cable companies and the networks who have been so slow to experiment with different content and pricing packages. There’s a real demand for new products, as many other commenters have expressed here. The cable monopolies just feel they don’t need to cater to it.

      But their stranglehold may not be as tight as they think. My mock-snide tone in the article was intended solely to rile up cable subscribers a bit and remind them that they have options. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to pay for a premium cable subscription. If you feel that the system isn’t giving you what you want and isn’t listening to your requests, the next thing to try is exiting altogether, and sending a message that way.

      You point out in your comments that there’s been a national-scale policy failure that leaves a lot of people with insufficient bandwidth to switch to a cord-cutting existence like mine, and I totally agree and sympathize. But I wouldn’t wait around for a political solution to that problem, either. I suspect that the only thing that will wake up the cable and network TV overlords and their buddies in places like Congress and the FCC and city councils around the country is a massive exodus from the existing system — consumers voting with their feet and trying whatever alternatives exist, even if they’re spotty at first.

  • Bob Crimmins

    Regrettably, cable is more about getting decent Internet band width than it is TV content. I dropped Comcast 18 months ago because it felt like I was getting jacked every month and the customer service suck BIG TIME. A combination of Netfilx, broadcast air and HULU was all we needed and it was great. (Although I agree that HULU isn’t worth the commercial torture and the user experience sucks.) But then I could not find any Internet service that came close to the speed/reliability of cable — I tried Clear, DSL, and 4G. And if you’re committed to getting their Internet service then their bundle packages make you feel like an idiot if you don’t just upgrade to some TV while you’re at it. Once there is a good Internet alternative I’ll cut the cord again — can’t wait!!!

  • Robert Gapen

    All these people that think you really need cable to get ESPN. you don’t I have been getting ESPN for a year on my Roku for a lot less than cable bundled with a ton of other channels and live while we are at it.

    http://streamingtvguide.blogspot.com/2012/11/us-tv-now-live-online-dvr-streamed.html

  • yolo supreme

    The pirate bay. Neighbors open WiFi. Living the dream. Yolo.

  • Karen Rivedal

    Wade, do you know if the Chromecast device would let me watch a TV series I bought for my Kindle HD from Amazon? Also, it doesn’t seem like any of your suggestions solve the problem of how to get ESPN (for MNF, if nothing else), if you want that, without subscribing to a cable or satellite package. Though maybe that was your point.

    • http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco Wade Roush

      Karen: I don’t have a Kindle HD but from what I’ve read, it is possible to “cast” whatever is running on your Kindle HD to your TV via Chromecast.

      You’re correct that ESPN will always make you pay for their content, no matter what. For instance, Apple TV has an ESPN channel, but it only works if you have a cable subscription that includes ESPN. Which sort of defeats the point, but hey. Sports never made much sense to me.

  • Stumps_Mcgee

    Just wait until the powers-that-be crush net neutrality. That’s the backdoor into making cord-cutters into the next generation of cable tv prisoners. With the loophole closed, there will be no escape thanks to our lobbyist-lubed Congressmen.

  • http://thisoldbrain.net Mike Kirkeberg

    I agree with you on all you said. Here is what I see as the problem, the fly in the ointment, so to speak. I fully expect Internet ptoviders to go the way of cell data plans – start limiting the data making the public, in some way or other, pay $$$ per byte. If they can’t get the money with cable tv, this will be the logical next step.

  • Aaron MacIntyre

    I’ve cut the cord on cable TV long ago. I do have netflix, but compared to the US (I’m Canadian) it’s programming can be a little lackluster. Hulu plus isn’t available in my Country, and honestly I wasn’t very impressed by it during my last trip to the states anyway.

    I have a moral grey policy when it comes to how I acquire my media. If it’s a fair price (netflix), and easy to purchase (xbox, netflix), I’ll shell out the money for the product.

    However, if they don’t meet those conditions, I’ll pirate the shit out of them.

    Some examples that will provoke my inner pirate:

    I’m a big fan of Doctor Who. During my work trip to the states, I’d stream it on Netflix at night while I worked. Now they don’t have season 7 on netflix yet. So, I decided to check out Hulu plus. They did have season 7, so I went through the process of signing up. I was fine with the price of the subscription, however they wouldn’t accept my credit card because I had a Canadian billing address. Amazon was the same deal. I’m sure it’s a security measure of some kind to prevent credit card fraud. Also happened to prevent me from making a legal purchase. So off to the bay of pirates to solve that issue.

    I can’t specifically recall a situation for the next example, but it’s happened.

    Program is available on cable tv, but it’s not available online. Or you have to be subscribed to cable to view online (which is bloody retarded). Yup, pirating the shit out of that.

    Live sports. If you don’t make it available for me to purchase online, I’ll go view it on an unauthorized streaming site.

    Basically here’s my logic: In this day and age, there is 0 excuses not to make programming easily available online with no delays other than greed. I understand cable companies are no different then any other business, in that they exist to maximize profits. But their unfair bullshit practices is the reason Pirating is so rampant. Sure, piracy will always be around, but practices like I mentioned above only serve to make it worse.

    Keep it mind if it wasn’t for piracy, I doubt legal online streaming would be as large as it is today.

    • Jeremy

      “However, if they don’t meet those conditions, I’ll pirate the shit out of them.”

      Dirtbag.

      • Aaron MacIntyre

        Really? Dirtbag? I pay a monthly subscription for god damn excel 2013. Why? Because they made it convenient and easy.

        Consider my piracy a tax on ridiculous content creators that make it hard for me to purchase their stuff.

        Got anything worth me pirating?

        • Beard Black the Anti-Pirate

          Don’t you have some student credentials? If you pirated some of those, then you would be paying $79 for four full years of Excel 2013. I guess you aren’t a very good pirate. Perhaps if you went back to pirate school, you would then have the student credentials to get Excel on the cheap. Be that as it may, remember what happened to those Somali pirates!!!

      • Mike

        I know right! He probably took money right out of your kids mouth when he pirated a tv show you have no connection with.

    • Tim Hicks

      But if you’re paying for internet use from an ISP to use Xbox for streaming monthly video services that charges monthly, aren’t you already paying more than cable?
      EX:) Xbox live fee (9.99 a month) + Internet from ISP (let’s say 30.00 a month for arguments sake) + streaming media service (let’s say 7.99 to compare to popular services on the market)?

  • danrayburn

    What a terrible article. You say that “200,000 to 600,000 people are cutting the cord each quarter”, but then link to an article that shows just over 200,000 cut the cord in ONE quarter. Not “each” quarter or even many quarters in a row. The data we get from the MSOs each quarter, proves this. So why are you stating something as fact that isn’t? You don’t have the data to back up the numbers you are quoting.

    You then go on to say that “only 250,000 of the 3.2 million new TV households that came into existence over the last three years bothered to sign up for cable in the first place.” Yet you don’t reference where that data comes from, how old it is, or what methodology was used.

    Yet these “numbers” are what you are using as your argument for the piece. You also don’t say what you spend every month to consumer video. You’re not getting sports and you’re not getting first run shows, for free. So your argument is that you can get the same kind of content cable subscribers are getting, at no cost, at the same quality and within the same release window – which is all false – which was pointed out to you by your fellow Xconomy writer: http://www.xconomy.com/detroit/2013/11/19/adventures-aereo-cutting-cable-cord

    You say you have “access to so much great video content” via Apple TV, but then say you pay for Netflix and “movie rentals”. But you don’t say how much you spend in total per month. And you say you have access to a “high-quality, low-cost couch surfing experience”, but you don’t define what content you are getting. You didn’t list a single show, say how old it is or what “high-quality” means, not to mention what device/platform it’s even available on.

    Your poor article is just another example of why there is so much “hype” around cord cutting and why expectations aren’t set properly. Because people like you think you’re the “average” viewer, you compare apples to oranges and then quote numbers you take out of context to support your piece.

    • Tommy McMahon

      There are so many idiotic comments in this response. I was about to let it go, but I’m procrastinating working on something, so here we go…

      Paragraph 1) Both you and the author are wrong with respect to the link about number of cord cutters. The link states there were 217,000 fewer cable subscribers in Q2 2013 as compared to Q2 2012. That’s the number of cord-cutters over a 12 month period … not in a quarter.

      Paragraph 2) This isn’t a scholarly article. It’s a tongue and cheek opinion piece. Chill out.

      Paragraph 3) The author’s argument certainly doesn’t seem to be “that you can get the same kind of content cable subscribers are getting, at no cost.” Honestly no clue how you took that away. The point is, unless you NEED to watch live sports, streaming services (some free, some cost a few bucks a month) make it difficult to justify paying $80/month for cable. If you want to argue that point, go ahead.

      Paragraph 4) is nonsensical and self-contradicting. First off, you can access Netflix through AppleTV. You acknowledge he has both then write “you don’t define what content you’re getting.” To top it off for the win, you say he doesn’t mention what device/platform he’s using… uuuummmm… maybe it’s AppleTV with Netflix? Just a guess.

      Paragraph 5) Why is “hype” in quotes? Are you implying there isn’t any hype? Define “apple” and define “orange”. Also, I don’t see any numbers take out of context.

      mic drop.

      • Syman Templar

        Tommy is right, don’t like it don’t read it.

  • Billie

    #firstworldproblems

    • Mike

      #superoriginal

  • c

    not that I want to date myself, but one of the selling points for cable was commercial free viewing.
    TV used to be free, the sponsors basically paid for it. So you put up with commercials. Until cable came along and spouted about commercial free viewing. TV is still free, but is more limited in its programming. And cable was commercial free for awhile, and you paid for that convienence. But you got a little extra programming in the bargain for a reasonable cost and you had a variety of shows not available on network tv. And why are the sponsors not paying for it as they do on network tv? why would I want to pay for commercials, when I can get them free on regular tv? Commercials are annoying, but if the tv/cable/satellite or whatever floats your boat is free, then I can put up with it. But I will not pay outrageous prices for the privilege of watching commercials, no matter what the medium.

    • DrWhoWhat

      Exactly

  • Hammer

    @danrayburn:disqus You must work for the cable company. Shut up! Nobody cares what you have to say. Your comments are irrelevant to anything being said and helps nobody here. All wade was doing was sharing alternatives for anybody that doesn’t know about. Im sorry that either you like the cable companies d*** up your a** or your trying to sell something…

    @waderoush:disqus I’ve been doing the same thing with Netflix, hulu, and amazon etc.. for years. I was fine with it. Just recently got dish network because my fiancé broke her leg and asked me to try them again. I think it was a big mastake and am now stuck with them for 2 years. Gotta love contracts. I will be canceling when the contract is up and going back to Netflix. I will miss MMA, but I refuse to pay for crap that I don’t even watch and don’t know how some of that crap is even on the air.¿?

    Im calling for a boycott of all the cable companys that rip us off! I cant trust a company that doesn’t have an honest price for the things they sell and wont be getting my money.. That is how we stand up for us, because the government wont. REGULATION or BOYCOTT!!!!!

  • Jeremy

    I like knowing that if my internet connection goes down, I do not lose access to TV. If your internet goes down, you not only lose that, but also your TV shows.

    • Mike

      My internet goes down maybe 30 minutes a month but you pay more every hour, every day, every week, every month and every year for the EXACT same shows I pay a fraction for. All primetime channels are still free in HD with a 20 dollar antenna so even with no internet, CBS, PBS, FOX, NBC, ABC and CW are all still there for free as well.

  • A K

    Cable prices are ridiculous if you’re going with any of the big companies. In my local town, many people are switching to smaller, more local companies who can offer more for your money. I went with Low Income Cable!

  • James Wright

    what is a person to do, who lives in rural east Texas where it is satellite or only local stations and dial up internet which is almost no internet. they really have us over a barrel any suggestions anyone

    • drew

      check out millenicom, local wireless ISP’s, cellular, satellite internet. the only drawback to most of those is data caps (which stems from greed) and imo data caps should not exist but its still better than dialup

  • maryann26

    I am so glad that Americans will continue to be ripped off by cable companies so that my viewing remains cheap. I get my home entertainment for about $16.00 a month with a Netflix streaming and DVD plan. I never have had cable, and I never will. It is a total waste of money.

    • Al

      Do you have stand-alone internet? If so, how much is that bill. I keep being told it will be more expensive to have internet only and not a cable bundle?

      • drew

        thats wrong, cable TV is by far the most expensive part especially since most carriers went all digital and rent boxes for each TV for like 5-7$ a month. you could always get cablecards for around $2/month but still, the base package is expensive regardless. companies have led people to believe that bundling is so great but believe me, i know first hand as a person who works in the field that bundles are a ripoff unless that company is your only option.

    • Tim Hicks

      But, I assume you are paying for internet services from an ISP..

  • Chris

    This drives me crazy. It is 2014, for crying out loud…why is there not another reasonable alternative? Because the U.S. of A. is all about greed. Our local “bundle” provider, Comcast, has a contract with our county. Hence…no competition. Each year our prices go up, up, up. It is getting close to $200 a month for cable/phone/tv. And that is with calling them every year to “negotiate” the best deal. I am so OVER THIS! Now I read that Comcast wants to buy Time/Warner at around 40-something BILLION DOLLARS???? Or maybe is was more than that. I am about ready to heave the whole thing. A little peace in my life would be well worth it. I truly feel for the families who cannot afford this. Our world is becoming so technology oriented that if you are not “on board” you are behind. How are school children suppose to keep up when their parents can’t afford the increasing expense of internet services. This expands much wider than our frustrations. Anybody listening????

    • Sickandtired

      I hear you and SO agree! I was so fed up with paying AT&T over $180 for a bundle package that I cancelled the whole thing. Not only do they continually raise rates, they make you feel that you should be happy about it. After less than 1 hour of research, I found an internet service (FreedomPop) for less than $20/ month. We all need to keep communicating options and alternatives, and to stop accepting the BS we are being fed.

  • drew

    it’s amazing all the stupid crap people pay for because they don’t want to figure out how to get it another way. another problem is a lot of people can’t live without TV. i got rid of the big TV package junk and pointless overpriced bundles a long time ago.

    i pay the cable co like $30/month for internet only, and about $20/month to a satellite co for about 45 channels incl. locals… either one goes up and i’ll jump ship or ditch them all together, especially the satellite.

  • Dane Opliger

    Whats “tv” and “cable”. I got the interwebs lol. Cable companies will die and the government will have to find new ways to spill their propaganda.

  • smb12321

    Since I am a Comcast serf, I am limited on data download. Connecting to a TV is not an option but thankfully Google Fiber is. (Coming to Nashville.) The “basic” ($300 one time fee / free internet) is huge as is the $120 1G – TV pkg. That speed can support holographics – the next step. Comcast’s response? Raise rates and set a monthly data limit …and start talking about higher speeds as if was a new concept.

    Friends in Provo (where it’s being installed) said they also get a Nexus tablet and that many public buildings were being outfitted for free. The bundle is toast.

  • Dennis Teel

    dish network only charges me 45 dollars and I get many movie channels free.i don’t have any complaints about satellite tv

  • NicholasLefevre

    I’m afraid that you have it backwards, least if your Internet service is provided by one of the oligopolists. Comcast, for example, charges $40 for Internet service and only a $10 increment for cable. Obviously that $10 does not cover the costs of all of the content provided by the cable service. The cable service is hugely subsidized by the Internet fees. If you use Comcast or Verizon for Internet, you are paying your neighbor’s cable bill. This will get worse if Comcast is allowed to buy Time Warner Cable. Their ability to block competition in Internet service will get even greater.

  • Tim Hicks

    Tragic flaw of this article: cord-cutting is not an option for all. In this article, Wade is treating cord-cutting like it is an option for every person. In some situations, there are no alternatives.

    • Jesse Estabrook

      LOL There is no alternative to television for some, stupid, people. Like it is life support or cigarettes. Lol. Try a book…

      • Tim Hicks

        Some people don’t find that to be the proper supplement for entertainment, which is what this whole argument is about..

        We’re not talking about a necessity to live or an addiction.

    • Blouwing Sr

      C-Band and KU Band satellite is FREE, has been for years, and there is a lot of HD on C-band.

      • Tim Hicks

        Okay, but like I said in my original comment, to some people this is not a viable alternative..

        • Robert Peterson

          Who are you referring to? I don’t understand how not having cable/satellite is not an option for anyone.

  • http://flipperremote.com/ http://flipperremote.com

    A higher percentage of consumers are now able to mention specific Sirius programming.

  • truth

    yea people who make tv shows should work for free!

  • DrWhoWhat

    Uh, sorry to report I also recently cut my TV umbilical cord, when Uverse registered their usual yearly $10 rate increase here in Chi (which brought my TV/Internet bill to $138/MO !!!!!). Sorry that’s the end. Sayonara to pay-up TV anyway. Still paying Internet although I should be able to find a cheaper deal on that too. (Interesting that Uverse apparently now has literally zero Customer Retention effort). Also I do agree that the last straw is that most cable stations slam u with more and longer commercials than ever before, so they’ve “got us coming and going”. Really people need to push back and cut the cord.

  • Juliana Wiesenhofer

    Would appreciate any information on how to obtain high speed internet without TV option.
    Anyone?

  • B O

    cable and satellite have almost nothing i’m interested in watching … they get none of my dollars

  • ha ha

    Yet as satellite-TV installer I hook people back up who tried cutting cord and can’t stand it! We need the guide and trailers to know what were supposed to like to watch.

  • Al Razzi

    Hi Wade,
    what is the best way to cut the cord compeletely from Uverse,Comcast and Dish Network. These few have an oligopoly over the whole broadcasting system. You cannot enjoy your leisure time until you feed these Crocodiles first

    • Danny McVey

      I dropped Comcast and switched to Clear 4G. It’s much slower than what I had with Comcast, but I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice at this point and am still able to stream Netflix and other internet media without problems (most of the time).

  • fako namo

    The money goes directly to the networks? Yeah no.

  • DONALD SMITH

    When I had cable mostly I just watched networks ABC CBS NBC anyway. So my antenna gives me all of that for free and I’m perfectly happy. My Internet provides me with most of the other content that interests me. With digital broadcast the high definition picture quality is actually better than cable.