Could you go without cable TV?
When I'm not pumping out my latest TV rant for the ol' Squad here, I write pretty infrequently for another blog with some old college roomies called The Suite Spot. It's really nothing more than a bunch of disgruntled twentysomething males talking about whatever we want.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, my buddy Keith wrote something that astounded me: he's canceled his cable TV service. And not just cable - I mean everything. Basic service too. The man is TV-less.
Wha?!? Just how the heck can a red-blooded American male say no more to cable TV? Good-bye ESPN? So long crappy late night soft-core porn? Farewell Desperate Hou... wait, nevermind. That one sounds great, but you get my point.
Is Keith still watching TV? Sure, tons of it. But he's doing something that many of us only use as a supplement to our normal TV viewing. He's watching everything online.
I can't even fathom this, but at the same time, it sounds perfectly manageable. Between CBS.com, ABC.com (they have HD now, too), and Hulu, you can get pretty much all of your hit network shows. ESPN360.com and NFL.com air a ton of live sporting events. Keith doesn't mention it, but iTunes has become a go to destination for online TV too. $50 for a whole season of TV the day after it airs isn't all that bad when you're paying around $100 a month for cable service. Some stuff you may have to wait for (House, for instance, doesn't hit Hulu until eight days after the linear broadcast), but so what? All you're shelling out for is Internet service. Doesn't sound that bad, does it?
Of course, the question I immediately asked was what about all the cable shows I love to watch? Simple. Netflix, on top of dirt cheap subscription fees, now has the option to stream immediately instead of waiting for DVDs to get mailed to you. So catching up on old seasons of shows like The Shield or Dexter are a snap.
Again - this really is sounding quite good. But I just can't see myself adhering to that lifestyle. I live for new TV on the night it airs and frequently run into DVR conflicts like fellow Squadder Joel. I have a hard enough time resigning to the practice of watching even one show the next morning online. The idea of having to wait a day (or more) for everything I love to watch is not an option.
But for some, having the freedom of no cable bill can add up to some significant savings. And speaking of money, while the networks are losing fistfuls of advertising dollars because DVR viewership is jumping, they're not making up for much of those losses with online ads. It's quite the conundrum - the shift to online viewing is something all the networks are addressing quite well, but profits-wise, it's currently not in their best interest. That'll probably change though and there will end up being so many ads tacked onto an online episode, that no one will watch it anymore.
Anyway, I know Keith isn't the only one who's adopted this practice and I'm curious to know what others living the cable-free lifestyle think about it? Is it really possible to exist in a world where you don't watch Lost until the next afternoon on a laptop screen?