After the third 30 call to find out about the increase without gaining a reasonable answer to why there was roughly 3% increase in the cost three months in a row, I informed them I no longer needed their service. Of course, there was a few well pronounced words that truly expressed my emotions on the issue. These included your equipment would be on my porch and I suggest that you pick it up early.This wasn't a quick or harsh choice on my part. I had taken a long look at how I was in fact using their service. Since a majority of my consumption was between 10pm and 4am, a majority of the basic and expanded cable programing was info commercials and general crap.
Out of all the channel and choices I had there was only about 6 or 7 non-movie channels that I in fact watched. A majority of them had feed my need to expand beyond basic cable. For example, I wanted HBO, so I needed digital. To get the Food Network, I needed expanded digital, etc... This created a situation in which a majority of the content I had, I had no interest in. I'm not a huge sport fan but I was paying for 20 or so channels that I never watched. One of the biggest draw was On Demand programing which was in fact a majority of what I was watching. In fact due to scheduling I was even beginning to watch some programming on line because I had no choice. It would be safe to say that only 10% of my viewing was in fact broadcast TV and the rest was all on demand or on line. As I see it I was pissing away about $100 a month.Don't get me wrong, the cable broadband was by far the faster option and still is. If truth be told I may have held out on cutting the cable a couple months longer then I did because of it. Just didn't want to give up the speed. Really you only have 3 options of high speed internet. Cable, DSL or satellite. Each have their Pros and cons but all three are over priced and less then reliable.
- Cable due to the cell method seemed to slow down more and more the longer I had it due to increased users and the price increases.
- DSL is more cheaper but do to the fact that most telecoms haven't upgraded their network in 30 years, you are lucky to squeeze out 1.5mbs.
- That brings us to satellite, which for the speed of cable, you are going to end up spending 7 times as much.
So I went with the evil phone company's DSL. There are two main problems with going straight to internet TV. I had been a member of Netflix a number of times over the years. Always cancelling at some point when I got frustrated by the slowness of the mail delivery or the lack of content for streaming. Also I had streamed public domain TV shows and movies that were around years ago and had bought digital movies and shows from Amazon. The problem was that often I wished to share this with my son and family in a comfortable setting. Not easy with a laptop and even less with a desktop. Sure there is ways to do this but I found the quality low both in sound and picture. Also for those of us that still had standard analog TVs, it just didn't work well.
The answer for me came in the form of a Samsung BluRay player.There are a number of other options including the many set top boxes on the market including Roku http://www.roku.com/
but I'd wanted a Bluray for a while. So it was two for one. Since I knew that speed maybe an issue with WiFi, I went old school Ethernet and plug it right into my router. Within about 1 minute everything from my Netflix instance cue was available on my TV. Also Youtube, Blockbuser, and Pandora Radio. Since I've gotten a Play Station 3 which not only has the web browser built in but can play files off of my Notebook's Media server. The only draw back and this is pure laziness, you have to put the Netflix disk in. I have to say that the PS3 is wireless and the interface much is fast.(Update now PS3 has an Netflix Ap and you nolonger need to use the disk. Also they have added Hulu Plus and a Movie App).
OK, content is the motivation behind this. I have and always have been a huge movie buff and due to my On Demand habits, Netflix is an almost prefect fit. The problem I had with Netflix streaming in the past is that a majority of their catalog was B-movies and low end old TV shows. However I'm increasing impressed with the content. There is nothing like watching a 5 years of a TV show in a row. Truth be told I enjoy this method much better then waiting weeks or months for the next show. I really doubt I would have become hooked on Sopranos if I hadn't of rented the box set. I'm not good at scheduled entertainment and the idea of being locked into a weekly activity would have drove me nuts. Since going cable free, I've watched all of the Law and Order SUVs, Wire in the Blood, and with Quinn all the Red Dwarfs. Then there is countless movies.
My Que gives me access to watch over 250 movies and TV shows at anytime. This includes a great number of youth and documentary programs. But what at current shows and movies? I went through a bit of a gadget buying spree this spring and got a new TV with HDMI inputs. Also a new notebook with HDMI out. So if there is something new I want to watch I simply buy it from Amazon, then download it to the Notebook, plug it in and hit play on the media player. Also there is VUDU and PSN where you can rent or buy movies on PS3 and other devices.
If you figure $1.99 a show with 4 per month it's still much cheaper than cable without a ton of crap you don't want. Also many networks now stream most of their shows. The two main drawbacks are News and Sports. I'm not a big fan of sports but some ISP provide ESPN live streaming. Also there is MBL TV and I'm pretty sure there is other sports that you can subscribe to.
As far as news goes, most local stations are already streaming a majority of their stories already and there are countless other sources on line. Try reading. I figure since pulling the cable plug, my entertainment budget has dropped to a third of what I was paying before and the level of the entertainment has increased. As a side bonus my son is not exposed to countless ads. Though there is a little bit of a feeling of being out of the loop as far as new games and movie releases. However a great deal less garbage intake.
The biggest question is what the future will bring? As Netflix continues to add more and more content, they seem to be winning the war at the cost of the local video store. A personal side effect has been that I'm renting a great deal less DVD from Best Place Ever - http://bestplaceever.com/
(if you are local you really should check them out and support them). Also I've noticed that with my DSL, if I stream for over 4 hours the internet mysteriously reboots. I maybe paranoid but it wouldn't be the first time that an ISP throttled content to avoid competing with another entertainment source.
The other question is finding content as our TV and set top boxes become more connected to internet, the key will be finding the content to play and who controls that access. The history of the internet has been shaped by search. At this point there seems to be 4 platforms that are posed to control this. The oldest would be Ruko and Boxee and will both releasing new boxes later this year. I have no first person knowledge of Ruko but from what I can gather, its focus is more toward content produced for streaming on the internet only and Netflix. I've used Boxee and the interface always seemed confusing and relies on sites like Hulu and other sites. Next would be Apple that has treated the Apple TV as a hobby and it seems to be another version of the Ipod where the main focus will be the Itunes store. Yet unseen is what Google TV will be. If they can come up with a good UI(not their strong point) and an effective search engine they could be the winner. The key maybe something as simple as a OS that allows content produces to build subscription app and/or access to amazon video on demand. It creates a situation where cable and networks will become a thing of the past and allows the public to buy directly from the content providers. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. It may create a situation where many shows may not be produce if they rely completely on subscription sales but it also may reduce the amount of crap that is produced.