Kill Your Cable A Year (and more) Later

As we migrated to MuseHack, I got to review past series, and by review I mean suddenly discover the insane amount of links I had to check and reconfigure.  This got me looking back at my own attempts to Kill Your Cable and what I learned.

Well that’s been over a year, Fan To Pro is now MuseHack, and I figured I’d share the repercussions now that the lack of cable has had time to become part of my life.  Or not part of my life.  Or something.

Let’s face it, cable has been part of our lives and culture, the fact we can and are leaving it is affecting our lives, our media consumption – and the technical direction of various companies.

First of all, between that last post and this I also ditched my X-Box because A) I see a value in a Home Theater PC, and B) The Microsoft’s next generation X-Box is insane.  This proved to be very easy because I never actually took time to put the Home Theater PC together, I just use my laptop plugged into my HD TV to watch Hulu and Netflix.

LESSON ONE: You can watch television perfectly fine off of a reasonably priced laptop.

This alone is kind of a game-changer if you think about it.  It now just takes one cable and rudimentary computer knowledge to ditch your cable.  It doesn’t take an HTPC or an X-Box.  It takes the laptop you got to use on vacation and you can watch television fine.

I honestly think people don’t realize how easy it is to leave cable – it takes a small amount of reading, a trip to Frys/Best Buy/Microsoft Store/Apple Store, an HD cable, and you’re done.

It would be very, very easy for leaving cable to become a kind of movement.  That’s a hint for you to do it as I’m busy.

LESSON TWO: Once you go to a Home Theater PC, or a laptop or whatever, a world of possibilities open up.

Now that I’m not only not using a console but I’m using a straight up computer, it opens a lot of possibilities.

I can browse on the system.

I have downloaded Steam and am gaming like crazy.

I can play music through it.

I can see software, novels, graphics, etc. on a big screen – my television.

Really there’s no reason not to consider computer-to-livign room TV as an option, albeit not a permanent one because of all the benefits.  Run that slideshow off your computer.  Use powerpoint to explain things to your gaming group.  Whatever, it’s easy to put a computer onto your TV.

This also makes it obvious about why Microsoft is moving towards the Living Room Media Computer.  It’s easy to do, very useful, and they want to get the hell into that space and own it.  They kind of do in my cases because it’s a Windows 8 laptop I’m using, but I’m talking in a more organized manner than Steve Has A Cable And A Plan.

LESSON THREE: The more removed you are from networks, the less you miss them.

So I don’t really miss the networks at all.  I can think of twice in the last year I’ve been frustrated by not getting ahold of certain shows, and in only one case were all my options gone.  But really I wonder why I cared in the first place.

The networks really could be in trouble in this regard.  The insane amount of content out there means that, to get attention, they either have to produce stuff that gets attention, leverage their position, or both.  Which they’re kind of doing, but still there’s a load out there – and there’s an entire WORLD out there producing video content.

LESSON FOUR: Other people care.

On the other hand having cable-using visitors, etc. gets a bit weird.  People want to watch showers, wonder if you recorded them, etc.  It takes some hunting through Netflix or Hulu or whatever, and at times people view it as a bit weird.

Our video consumption habits will change, but mass changes will be slow, need to be explained, or be understood.  Not everyone gets what I’ve done or why.

LESSON FIVE: I watch less television period.

Without habits, I’m a lot more selective viewer.  I watch less TV now simply as its not automatic.  This has been great for my time usage and time management.

LESSON SIX: My TV viewing has a purpose.

When the Cable Buffet isn’t in front of you, you start asking what you do want to watch, why, and when.  It really makes you think.

It also means I explore more as there are different boundaries and filters.

I see the ongoing change in video consumption actually bringing about similar experiences.  When you can get content via many sources and ways, what do you want to do?


A year later I really don’t miss cable.  I’m more selective and more focused on what I want – and it’s easy to get away from Cable thanks to computers.  We’re not in the midst of a cable-cutting revolution . . . but it would be easier than people may think, and has tangible benefits.

And if anyone’s going to push it forward?  It’ll probably be the XBox, followed by other “Boxes.” What intrigues me though is that there’s many ways to disrupt normal cable habits, so whoever disrupts it first may not be the one that finally benefits, at least directly.

– Steve