Home Poll: Are You Still Watching Cable TV?

Poll: Are You Still Watching Cable TV?

Chris Albrecht has a post on NewTeeVee this morning asking for suggestions to help him break up with cable. Even though cable prices have gone up 77 percent since 1996, which according to the New York Times is nearly twice the rate of inflation, many people are having trouble kicking the habit. “I hate dealing with the cable company, but I just can’t seem to break up with it,” says Albrecht. There are plenty of options out there, how have you cut the cord?

With the rise of web video, some even rebroadcast from television (YouTube, Hulu, etc.), P2P online TV (Joost, Zattoo, LiveStation, etc.), BitTorrent, iTunes, Netflix, and a host of set top boxes all offering television content, how come ditching cable is so difficult? Albrecht lays out three reasons for why he can’t give it up:

  • Laziness: “It’s hard to beat the one-stop shop of cable. It’s all right there at literally the touch of a button.”
  • HD: “TV shows on Hulu are great and convenient but are not in HD. I could stream HD content on ABC, but I’d have to watch it on my Mac … iTunes doesn’t offer HD versions of its TV shows.”
  • Discovery: “There is a Zen-like satisfaction to flipping through channels and finding a cable oddity that I didn’t know existed.”

Despite my own hate-hate relationship with my cable TV provider, I too can’t seem to walk away. Here are some of my own additional reasons:

  • Live sports: What can I say? I’m a sports junkie. Yes, you can get a lot of sports streamed live online these days, but not as much as over cable (especially in local markets), and if you add up all the costs you’re talking about a significant investment just for sports.
  • Convenience: No downloading, no buffering, no waiting in line, no waiting for someone to seed last night’s big season finale. Cable is always there for me, working just as promised. And if you have a DVR, you even get to watch it on your own time.
  • Impatience: Before BitTorrent, or iTunes, or Joost gets a television show, it is broadcast over cable or network TV. There are some shows I don’t want to wait for: 60 Minutes, NOW with David Brancaccio, and Bill Moyers Journal come to mind. (You know, as long as there isn’t a game on… ahem.)

But for everything there is to like about cable, there is an equal or greater number of reasons to cut the cord. The headaches I’ve gone through over the past few months dealing with my cable provider (Cox — one of the few companies on the planet that can almost make Comcast start to sound good to me), from not showing up for scheduled service appoints to slipping things I didn’t order onto my bill, should have been enough to make me cancel my contract, if not for television’s addictive hold on me.

We’ve looked at the numerous Internet TV options on ReadWriteWeb in the past (see in depth reviews here and here), and on my computer right now I have Joost, Babelgum, Livestation, and Veoh installed. But none seem compelling or complete enough to grab my full attention away from cable.

Do you still watch cable television? If not, what made you give it up? Do you watch TV online? Let us know in the comments below, and vote in our poll. In the meantime, I’m going to check what’s on.

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