Steve’s Kill Your Cable Adventure #6: Not With A Bang, But With A Spare $90

So I got around to finally Killing My Cable.

We haven’t been using cable in my apartment for awhile anyway, as our regular readers know.  First, my roommate and I experimented in going without, but kept it around.  Then I cancelled TiVO, and I just didn’t get to canceling cable until recently because I kept forgetting to.

It was pretty simple – I called the company, cancelled, and took the card into the local office to turn in.  That was that.  No more cable.  A strange denouement to something I’ve been using for nearly 30 years.

Yet, an understandable end to something that just isn’t what it was three decades ago, or even a decade ago.

Walking into the local cable company office, the cable card in my pocket, it struck me how archaic it felt.  People with bulky cable boxes being returned or picked up, the line to talk to staff who clearly didn’t want to be there, the advertisements for services that no longer seemed new or fresh.  I could feel the age of the idea of cable itself weighing the place down.

Even the card I carried plugged into a bulky TiVO box.  This small device itself was a reminder of the odd negotiations of years past to get things to work together.  It was an artifact of old battles (as opposed to some of the new battles and continuing ones).

Cable feels aged, out-of-date, arthritic.

The office wasn’t a Genius Bar.  The technology seemed inappropriately large and ungainly.  The staff attitude wasn’t enthusiastic.  The service . . . well the service is something you can get anywhere, namely bland and uninterested.

At home I’ve got Netflix and Hulu on my Xbox or computer, with slick recommendations and all the programming I want.  I’ve got glittering, light, fast, friendly devices to deliver my content (among other things).  I can get what I want, when I want it, in many ways.

The age of content delivery is fast, slick, sexy, and smart – and with many options.

Cable still has the moribund feel of something that remembers being the only option.  It reminds me a bit of Microsoft back before Microsoft caught on and knocked everyone’s sox off with the XBox.  Perhaps that should offer cable companies hope – and something to think of.

I don’t miss cable.  I think, perhaps, I miss when cable was cool, when a new channel was amazing, when you could dig up neat treasures surfing around.  Those times are gone, and now the internet and Netflix and everything else offers a world of possibility – and focus.

I also wonder if Cable companies can truly move with the times.

I do believe it’s possible. A smart cable provider could become a kind of “ISP plus,” with all sorts of extra bundled services, premium content, and so forth.  It’d be a shift, indeed.  It’d be less profitable (if probably more stable) than they’re used to I’m quite sure.  It’d require effort, it would require change.

Sadly, I’m not seeing the kind of radical change that’s needed coming out of cable, though at some point the writing on the wall will be a bright neon glow that can’t be ignored.  By that time, it may be to late.

So now, I’m cable-free.

It should feel like something big or revolutionary.

Instead, by now, I just feel like my roommate and I are saving $90 a month between cable and TiVo.  I’m pretty attached to the money, but it’s still not the same.

Steven Savage