Cable television obsolete in favor of internet streams

For the first 20 years of my life, there was always something right at my fingertips whenever I needed it. After a stressful day at school or work, I could lie down on the couch and it would help me relax in a matter of minutes. Unless the weather was terrible, it was always in my house, ready to please me and keep me company.

I am referring of course to cable TV. Now, I may exaggerate a little and was certainly not best friends with the metal box that sat under my TV, but the point is still very much the same. I had hundreds if not thousands of channels ready for my entertainment pleasure only a button click away. My family never had the premium channels, like HBO or Showtime, but we had digital cable, which offered nearly a thousand channels covering anything from cooking, sports and sitcoms; to music, westerns and the news in every language imaginable. The world was on a screen.

But then something else came around: the Internet. I still remember the days of having to announce to my family that I was going online, lest my grandmother be trying to call our house and the phone lines being jammed with my web surfing. The term “web surfing” was really popular back then, too, but I’m really not sure why.

But soon those five minute waits to connect turned to seconds and my grandmother could finally call at the same time I was on the Internet. I didn’t even have to make a public service announcement to my family that I was going online anymore.

What’s the next logical step from here? To bring that cable to the Internet. Oh Hulu, where have you been all my life? Every show I want to watch, all a mouse click away. The best part? It’s completely free. I’m aware that Hulu Plus is available for a low monthly fee, but my “poor college student” complex kicks in before I become too tempted.

Did I mention it is free? In a day where cell phone bills exceed $100 a month for one line, one may think that we would be okay with doling out 50 or 60 bucks a month for cable too. But we’re not stupid either. If people can get something very comparable to what costs fifty dollars for free, they’re going to go with the free one every time.

And that’s exactly what I did. My parents recently called me, telling me that they decided to get rid of our cable and landline telephone. I’m sure they expected me to be uneasy, nervous about not watching my daily SportsCenter or New York Mets games. But instead, I was completely ok with it. Sure it saves money, but what were we paying for in the first place?

I’ll admit, I don’t watch a ton of cable shows. But it’s not because I can’t find the time, I just can’t find good enough shows to devote my time to. Out of all the shows on TV each week, I only make an effort to keep up with two of them: “Modern Family” and “South Park.” I’m sorry “Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” but you just aren’t doing it for me anymore. “The Office,” you’re pretty funny too, but I’ll just catch it on Hulu a day later. It’s just too easy to watch it on my computer whenever I want to, rather than make sure to tune in at the same time every week.

We’re in a world where computers can call people and phones can surf the web. What can cable do? Provide us steeply declining programming for a steeply inclining price. No thank you.

One thought on “Cable television obsolete in favor of internet streams

  1. Jacob – as someone who made a career in the cable biz, then moved on to broadband and broadcast services, I appreciate your sentiments regarding the multichannel environment you grew up in…and reminding us all about the dawn of the “internet” – AOL dial-up – and the emergence broadband platforms, wired and wireless quite a nostalgic and educational trip.

    Since you are a student at Oz, I know you are smart – smart enough to know that nothing in life is free – not Hulu, not the internet, not mug night. There is a cost for access – either through your cell bill, your iso, your tuition or the cover charge at TheShed.

    “Cable” is an industry that has a number of layers – Video (what you remember), Broadband (which you need to embrace Hulu and other “Over The Top” (OTT) services and Digital Voice – some cable co’s offer wireless as a fourth option in their bundle of choices.

    Programmers, like HBO, Showtime, ESPN, MTV, etc primarily distribute via cable and satellite – but you rightly point out there are options – broadband services such as Hulu (many more to come) and wireless deals with Verizon, AT&T, etc.

    Bottom Line – none of this happens for free and none of it would have happened without the development of the cable industry – which is no closer to obsolescence than your pending Oswego State degree.

    The cable industry is evolving to adapt to consumer demand and new technology. Cable is more than TV – much more – and is still a driving force in the development of content, applications and services in this new digital world.

    It may be a generational thing, but we do share a point of view that was first developed at home and then in a place called Oz…I have a few more miles under my belt – that doesn’t make me smarter…just older. I look forward to see how you and your friends define the next generation of media platforms, content and services.

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