Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cutting the Cable (aka Hey, TV is on the Internet!)

Let me start out this diatribe by explaining that I have almost never been happy with any cable provider, any place that I have lived.

Service is questionable, customer service is most often exceedingly failing and tech support is, at best, awake.  So, having heard of the growing trend in cutting the cable from such excellent shows as Leo LaPorte's The Tech Guy and Revision3's Tekzilla, I decided to go all out and give up my connection to over 100 channels (most of which I never watched anyway).

So I called Time Warner Cable here in New York City.  My two-year price lock guarantee was up this past November so I explained that I would like to cancel my cable TV service but keep my Internet service.  Most of the television that I do watch is available online anyway, so why was I paying over $100 a month to watch stuff that was available online??  After a bit of tug-of-war with TWC's customer service (they insisted that I had a 3-year price lock guarantee and that I was committed to another 12 months of cable TV service... no, that took 2 days of struggling with various customer service supervisors until they admitted they had coded my price lock wrong) I successfully cut cable TV out of my life and have not looked back.

With the increasing ability to watch TV online through Netflix, Hulu or even via the specific channels (Fox and Syfy are particularly good at posting their content online... usually within a day or two of its broadcast release) I'm able to watch what I want, when I want it on my computer.  And with an old Macbook Pro connected to the TV I can access everything on the big screen just like I had with cable.  Of course, thanks to "set top boxes" like the Roku or Boxy (neither of which I have since the Macbook Pro can do all that they can... and more) anyone can get the Internet on their TV.  And if you have a gaming console like the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii you can access a variety of services (Netflix in particular works incredibly well on each).

So, to all those out there who are suffering from poor service and high cable bills... look to the Internet and see if you can live without your wired connection to your cable TV provider.  It is really pretty wonderful to think that you've turned your back on an industry that has, at least in my experience, turned its back on its customers.

For more information on how to live without cable check out Lifehacker's post from earlier last year.  It's a pretty thorough primer for those looking to cut the cable.

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