I canceled my cable TV service today. Later this afternoon I am going to drop off the HD DVR and since I have consistently overpaid my bill for the last year they actually owe me money when all is said and done. People that know me real well might think I have lost my mind. Partly because they know how much TV and how many movies I watch and partly because......they know how much TV and how many movies I watch.
I love TV. I have grown up in the TV generation. My generation started watching TV when the bulk of it was still in black and white. We lived through the transition to color. We lived through the transition from an antenna on top of everyone's house to having cable. We lived through the added competition and cheaper pricing that satellite services have brought us. We lived through early adopters putting antennas back on top of the house to get HDTV signals over the air. If I wanted to hold on for another 8 months I would experience the cut off of analog signals when we go digital.
But I decided to cancel my cable service for several reasons --
Cost - I was spending roughly $100 a month on cable TV service. It wasn't anything fancy, a basic package upgraded with all of the HD channels they offered and an HD DVR. No premium movie channels and no sports packages. That's $100 a month for something that up until the 70's was 100% free. Sure, cable introduced a bunch of cool stuff but 30 years down the road, there are really only a small number of channels and shows worth watching on the 100's of channels offered (IMO) and $100 a month just isn't worth it. So that is $1200 a year I get to keep and in these troubling financial times, the more money in my pocket, the better.
Selection - My cable company offered 25 HD channels (not including the premium HBO type HD channels). But they do not offer and have no plans to offer SciFi HD, or Monsters HD which I would love to have. When compared against DirectTV's HD lineup, they just can't match it. And since they are the only cable company in town, it seems to me they have no desire to add additional services to make it worth my money to stay with them. Problem is, I can't get DirectTV because of all the tall tress on my property and I don't want to add a huge mast on the property to mount a dish on just to make it happen.
Time - There just isn't enough of it. I watch a LOT of TV and movies. It is an incredible time suck and I want some of the time back to accomplish other things in my life. I am not getting any younger and neither are my wife and kids. The fence needs mending, the south 40 needs some work, and I have camping to do.
It's still going to be out there - The major networks place most of the shows I would be interested in watching on their web sites within 24-48 hours of the original air date. Failing that, everyone releases DVD compilations just before the new season begins. So I can rent what I REALLY want to watch and play catch up when I need to. Nothing like spending a rainy day in your pajamas watching episode after episode of Battlestar Galactica..... I also believe most movies are worth watching on the big screen in the theater, opening weekend when the crowd gets into it.
I also truly believe that the broadcasters and Hollywood have lost the war against P2P and file sharing sites. They will never be able to prevent content from being distributed digitally over the Internet. It only takes a BitTorrent client and decent Internet connection and 30 minutes to locate, download and start watching a compressed HD version of most TV shows and movies (....or so I've heard....). They are going to figure this out sooner or later and digital distribution will become the standard means of getting content in the next 5-10 years. I have mentioned in several seminars that I am far less impressed with the 100's of CD's and DVD's people have on display at their houses and far more impressed with people that have Home Theater PC's that allow them to call up what they want to consume within seconds without having to dig a CD or a DVD out of a case, watch all the previews and THEN get to the movie. Long ago I ripped down my entire music and DVD collections and put it all in crates in the basement. There will come a day, and a lot sooner than many think, where we don't own any physical media at all except for a big RAID array where it is all stored. So call me an early, early adopter.
Thus begins my one year long experiment with no TV services (officially starts July 1st). I will consume what I can from the content providers web sites and supplement the rest with DVD rentals, and going to the movies. I know where the bars are that show my favorite sports teams live and I have season tickets for the Seattle Thunderbirds. I haven't watched live news broadcasts regularly in years (does anyone anymore?) and I know enough people with DVR's that I can capture anything else I may want to see through them.
Time to start working on the honey-do list.....