Our friend the television: Is cable an outdated dinosaur?

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TV HEADLast week I read this article on Mashable about cutting the cable cord. In it, they cover the results of a study in which five families replaced their cable with a “connected device” (vocab word, yo!) for a week. We’re talking Boxee, Roku, Apple TV and Google TV, and an Xbox 360.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a man pretty high up in the pecking order of a midwestern cable company. He was very interested in learning about how us kids watch TV. I explained that we’d only recently gotten cable again — because there was a deal when we moved.

“And how did you watch TV before that?” he asked.

We watched a lot of Hulu and Netflix.

“When the deal’s over, will you continue cable?”

I dunno. Probably not.

“What would make your cable subscription more useful to you?”

If I could just effing watch it on my computer. Seriously. Not even our local news stations stream their shows online. AND, my cable plan includes On Demand Streaming, but I can access content days faster online.

I’m sure a number of you don’t watch TV at all — but that will never be me. I love my teevee. When we don’t have cable, we watch Netflix and Hulu, and I even have a set-up that allows me to stream Japanese daytime television (Amazing. Their version of Fred Willard is a trio of very young women.) So, I’m kind of curious — does cable feel like a dying dinosaur to you? Do you already own — or are you researching — a connective device? Do you even need one? Is Netflix enough for your household? Let’s prognosticate a bit on the future of mass media.

Comments on Our friend the television: Is cable an outdated dinosaur?

  1. My husband likes to build PCs and so we have one hooked up to our tv in the living room. We use our tv as a gigantic moniter. It works out amazingly, especially since we um, like to download things without necessarily paying for them. There are things about cable I miss (Shark Week, alas). I’m pretty certain Discovery will get their asses in gear within the next year or two and get with streaming. Seriously though, I’m more of a PBS kind of person, and fortunately they do put lots of stuff online. In the meantime, you guys gotta make friends with some nerds.

  2. My fiance actually built a computer, which he refers to as our media server, JUST to have an operating system on it that will stream movies from his main PC/media server in our office. The funniest thing is the server he built is housed in an original Nintendo so people flip out when they see it.

    The office computer has more than a hundred movies on it and a bunch of shows, plus we have around 400 DVDs. Between what we own and Netflix we axed our cable. We do get a few local channels (news, a shopping channel, ABC family, WGN, and a couple others) because we have internet and that just comes with it.

    Netflix is the best. Though my fiance will probably get a full cable package from April through June for NHL playoffs. Being from Detroit (but living in the DC area – go Caps!) he’s a hockey freak.

    • I would LOVE a photo of that in the Flickr pool. And if he’s feeling up to it, I wouldn’t turn down a good post about how he did it (also with photos!)

  3. With one on the way and our desperate attempt to move b4 Incubabe comes, we plan to cut the cord when we do. My husband set up a computer to record shows for us off antennae, we will watch hulu with that and up our Netflix to two disks versus 1. I don’t think I will miss it

    Except for HBO original programming…darn them for not streaming their shows yet and being Netflix haters! Their new online “streaming” is only if you already pay fOr it w/ your cable subscription. True blood–I’ll miss you!!

  4. I use http://www.mvixusa.com: a small box with HDMI that you connect to your TV and that is wi-fi and has a network cable connector too if you prefer that. Then you download all the TV shows/movies you want on your computer using http://www.isohunt.com and http://www.utorrent.com, open the MVIX, browse to your computer and press PLAY!

    For all of you who will be offended by the fact that this is piracy, hold on: many shows are already offered for free online by their publishers. For the rest, we must all work towards changing the laws and allowing piracy because piracy is sharing and sharing is good for us all. The producers/creators won’t be left behind. The new system that will emerge will find a way to reward them for their great work. Trust our global intelligence.

  5. Can I get clued in on where you’re getting Japanese shows? I left there a year ago and I can *feel* my language skills draining out of me from non-use.

  6. I grew up without cable and Fox so I’ve found that I don’t get a lot of 1980’s and 1990’s pop culture references. 😀

    However, our apartment rent includes cable so I’m quite used to it now.Upon reflection, I’d miss Sportscenter, football and baseball games if we didn’t have cable. But I think I’d find ways to cope. I’d not miss how much PBS I don’t see due to cable being in the house.
    This month we joined Netflix, and will renew it when it comes due. I feel that the benefits outweigh the $95.88 a year cost. I enjoy seeing canceled shows on the big screen and being able to time shift. As we don’t have a DVR this is a big breakthrough for me!

  7. I grew up with cable and had it until we moved into our new place in February. I no longer have cable and I’m finding that I don’t miss it at all. I can watch pretty much everything I used to watch on hulu and I still watch a lot of back shows on netflix. I wish there were ways to watch premium channels online as I LOVE some shows…but they seem to be so stuck on the old model. As far as sports, we bought an HD antenna (one time $50 cost) and hooked it up to our tv. So now I get all the basic channels for free in HD with that for sports. And I have an xbox kinect and they also have sports that stream on there (and since I don’t live where I grew up, I rarely get to see my home teams on tv anyway, cable or not).

    I guess so far, I haven’t really found a reason to go back to cable. Sure some things I can’t find online, but a lot of those things were shows I didn’t watch on tv anyway b/c I didn’t have premium channels.

  8. I gave up cable and landline three years ago. Hulu and Netflix stream to the TV via my Blu Ray player, local channels come through via antenna/converter box combo, everything else (Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, etc.) I can stream online. Internet is the only thing I pay for and that’s $19 a month, which I need for my computer anyway. Why would anyone pay for cable?

    PS I am a 48-year-old single mom who is the least tech-savvy person in the world (I still can’t figure out the camera on my phone) and I was able to figure out how to do this and set it all up all by myself simply be reading about it online.

  9. We have an HDTV and never bothered to get a digital converter years ago. We have a spare computer tower hooked up to the TV, a network linking all 5 computers in the house, a subscription to Netflix, and have not once missed having “normal” TV channels at our fingertips. Not to mention the fact that we only watch what we’re interested in, as opposed to zoning out in front of the TV for hours at a time.

  10. We are getting out of our Directv contract in May. I can’t wait. We’re paying almost $200 a month since we have a cable/internet package from Comcast too. Oh AND we also have Netflix. I’ve grown to love DVR but it’s so not worth it. Blarg.

  11. I love TV, but don’t have much time for it lately. So it’s easy to get my fill with Hulu & Netflix, especially since we have all 3 gaming consoles and 2 computers. The only thing is, what about sports?? I love the NBA and NFL, and golf and tennis. There are few resources for those online and what exists kinda sucks. Plus, there’s just nothing like gathering around your TV with snacks and drinks for a game.

  12. I don’t have cable, but I have a converter box. The only channels I watch are PBS and this random local channel that shows 70’s and 80’s music videos 24-7. Everything else I watch on Netflix through my laptop. The ONLY way I’d ever get able is if they allowed some kind of a la carte service that allowed you to pick and choose the channels you wanted.

  13. We have high speed internet, a Blu Ray in one room that does Netflix/Pandora and a Roku in the living room that does Netflix/Hulu/Pandora and a host of other things. The only “tv” we watch is whatever comes over our antenna so like the local news and that’s about it.

  14. I go to my neighbour’s house to watch Once Upon a Time with them, and that’s about it. I do own a TV, but I use it only to play the Wii or watch DVDs (even then, that’s rare). If I could pick-and-choose what channels I got, I MIGHT be willing to get TV, but as such it’s a huge black box taking up valuable space in my living room. If I didn’t live in rural Indiana where internet connection options are a joke, I’d be more than willing to pay for Netflix.

  15. Ahh yes the inevitable question, cable or no? My fiance and I do not have cable and instead stream online through Netflix, Hulu, and other such methods. We find it a lot better to watch stuff when we want to and not when the “man” tells us to watch. 🙂 also wayyyyy cheaper

  16. We haven’t used a TV in a year now and don’t miss it. Between Netflix and Hulu, we do just fine because we’re not big TV people anyway. I’m thinking about getting Amazon Prime so we can watch their movies/shows for free as well, since they have the biggest selection of shows I actually do want to watch. I could then cancel Netflix and Hulu because they rarely have what I’m looking for. When we move, we’ll get a TV just for videogames.

  17. I have worked for the cable companies for 10 years Comcast, TWC I will be honest, to me cable TV service is really outdated. in all aspects. What do I mean exactly? Still, service is bundle packaged. Consumer are forced to pay for a package of channels, most consumer watch less than half the channels they are paying for. In addition, the premium channels repeat programming, and movies, plus On Demand is limited. Now, as for the alternative to cable, such streaming content, which is good but is also limited, with devices like Amazon Fire, Roku, Apple TV except for one multimedia center device, the VStreamTV the content is unlimited. Watch Movies, classics and the latest titles, the same for TV Shows, and even live TV. learn more, Go to: http://myvs2.com/streem tvnow

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