Steve’s Kill Your Cable Adventure #4: Into The Abyss

Last week was a convenient way to practice Kill Your Cable – my roommate was out for a trip.  So I decided to go Cold Turducken and not watch anything on cable – just via other sources.

Here's what I found:

  • Hulu has ads, and that annoys me, but when you think about it you get a half-decent selection for a low price.  Being ad-free should not be a measure of something's value, it's more per-dollars.  I get used to it – but I'd pony up a little more for no ads.
  • Netflix still has an amazing selection of items.
  • The XBox really is evolving nicely as a media machine – I like what it can do and I think the latest update shows Microsoft is finding it's niche.  As they have a good gaming box and PC gaming is big, I figure it's entertainment.
  • Any browser hooked to a TV is valuable – because a TV really is a giant honking monitor.  Don't deny the possibility of using it to run shows off of a computer normally not used for the process.
  • The update to the Logitech Revue, which includes apps, is a nice start.  It's got a ways to go, but I think a big advantage of potential Killboxes for Cable is their updatability.
  • The act of having to search for things to watch actually opens up your horizons to other shows, properties, etc.
  • I missed Glee and realized I didn't miss Glee.  Still want a show with Kurt, Blaine, and Puck living together.  That's just me. 

So it took using two devices and two or three services, but I kept myself entertained and informed – and of course for news I use the internet anyway.  I don't really see any reason to not kill cable.

Now, of course, I always have deep psychological and social insights insights on this little project, and here they are:

1) Watching Myself
I think a lot of our media consumption is for either killing time (which doesn't need cable) or for a shared social experience.  The latter, as I noted before, is important when there are no recordings, rebroadcasts, or streaming.  It is not so much in an age of so many media sources.

Secondly, I find that the very act of avoiding cable and choosing media makes you ask the "why" question.  The more I do this the more I find myself asking what I want to do with the time I allocated to media consumption – and what I did and will do.

Watching myself is fascinating.

I also find having a shared experience is a big part of my media consumption, so when I pick an entertainment I may want to be entertained, but also I wonder what I can share and enjoy with people.  When you move to selecting media, it makes you ask a lot of questions about you, your friends, and how you socialize.

2) The Financial Factor
The money is also a factor – when I look at the cost of cable versus what I can get other methods it really just isn't worth it.  I'm realizing cable not only isn't worth it for me and a lot of other people, it probably hasn't been worth it for awhile, especially for some subcultures.

After all, if you're a fan of, say, anime or classic movies, why have you needed mainstream cable?  It's a waste – cable is a general-interest thing that isn't that interesting anymore.

When you see how much of cable is terrible reality shows (is The Learning Channel's name even appropriate anymore?) then you see how cable is a kind of rip-off unless you have a big household. 

In fact, I think my statement last week that cable may still be a bargain for a large household is wrong.  It's only useful if it fits the needs of the household, and more and more I'm not sure what those are.

3) This Isn't New
Yes you can't get everything you want.  You have some methods to get one media and some to get another – we used to call those "Channels."

The fact you have to put together multiple ways to get the media you wan't isn't new.  It may have meant ordering DVDs or buying a different cable package or whatever.  The fact there's no one perfect Kill Your Cable application is totally understandable – and nothing to complain about.

We've got different channels in the old sense – channels of media.

Once you accept that you've got some different limits, you appreciate the advantages of the kill your cable approach.

4) People Ask
The idea of "Kill Your Cable" is so radical my friends are actually asking me about it and discussing it.  That tells you how habitual it is.

More next week – let's see what a cable-free holiday is like!

Steven Savage