My formative years could be summed up in two significant stages – life before cable … and with cable.
Cable television was a gift from up above for an entertainment addict like me, and for decades I relied on cable television to inform, enlighten and, most of all, plug the gaps in my often spotty social calendar.
Last month, I called up my cable company and said, “thanks, but no thanks.”
It’s hard to pin down just one factor behind my decision. Yes, I watch less television now as the father of two young boys. And my Big Hollywood duties require me to watch as many feature films as possible – both in theaters and on Blu-ray.
More “Twilight” sequels. Less “Gilligan’s Island” reruns.
But for months I would channel surf in my rare spare time and subsequently shut off the TV in mild disgust. I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to watch.
Movies on cable required sitting through endless commercials. The few television shows I considered Must See TV weren’t on when I wanted them to be on. And even my cable system’s on-demand archive seemed limited. And then I had to stare at that ghastly cable bill, the one that seemed to loom larger with every passing month.
I decided to buy a new, Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-ray player a few months ago just to ponder what kind of entertainment choices I might have via streaming services. Turns out Netflix had all the shows my sons adore, from “Dinosaur Train” to “Curious George.”
My tag-team partner at Big Hollywood, John Nolte, reminded me that by supporting cable I indirectly kept channels I had little use for afloat. That inched me closer to my final decision.
Finally, I made the jump. No more cable.
So, what options do I have when I turn on my television now? I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus for less than $20 a month for a bonanza of movie and TV content. I bought a subscription to MLB.tv to watch the Yankees and Rockies this summer. And I invested in a digital antenna for $50 – I probably could have shopped around for a cheaper model – to make sure I received the standard broadcast channels.
So far, I’ve had some “rebuffering” issues with Netflix streaming that I need to address. And I also must find a permanent spot for my digital antenna. My TV lives in the basement, so reception is a bit trickier than on the ground floor.
The only painful moment of life sans cable was reading a few spoilers on Twitter regarding my favorite show, AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” That hurt.
But my monthly bill is so less painful today than it was two months ago. And while the streaming experience isn’t seamless at the moment, I’m betting it will improve in the months to come, both in quality and in terms of available content.
If a recovering TV addict like me cut the cord, the cable and satellite companies should be worried.