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Friday, March 28, 2014

Will cable TV soon be dead?

I remember when I first got Cable TV. I was living in the Washington, DC area and it took a lot of thinking and reflection before I was ready to commit to $19 a month for top-of-the-line service. Flash forward 30+ years and I'm paying over $160 a month.

Each weekend I spend hours cleaning angelfish tanks (I breed angelfish; check out my blog at, named after Vicki Boyd of the Black Swamp Mysteries series) and I like to have a movie on in the background while I work.

My epiphany came when I could not find a movie on television that I hadn't seen before - even though my Cable TV subscription boasts more than 1,000 channels. There are hundreds of sports channels (I deplore sports) and hundreds of music channels (I have iTunes, so what's the point). I started flipping through the channels and really paying attention to what I was paying for: HBO rehashes the exact same set of movies throughout an entire month - something that began when they stopped paying for each viewing of a movie and started paying for the use of the movie throughout an entire month. There are old, Old, OLD movies that I've seen before - and they weren't that good the first time. Television series on all but a handful of channels are shows from decades earlier. Some were great (such as Friends) but they've been off the air for so long that I know each episode by heart.

So I bought Apple TV. A small box approximately three inches square, it opens up the world of the Internet. I already had a Netflix account - unlimited movies for one low monthly price - and now I can choose from thousands of movies as well as some great television series. I signed up for Hulu Plus for $7.99 a month, and now I have countless television series, television specials, and more movies at my disposal.

For around $20 a month, I have more viewing options than I could ever have with $160+ a month Cable TV.

And lest you think the television series are old, they are not. I can view them on Hulu Plus just one day after their original airing. Since I never watched anything live - I always recorded shows ans watched them on my timetable - waiting one day is not a big deal.

There are some shows - such as NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - that were not available on Hulu Plus. But guess what: I can now use my television as a computer monitor thanks to Apple TV and a free downloaded app on my iPad and iPhone. So I can watch Brian every night live on their own website.

I also have YouTube available, the Smithsonian Channel, and a whole lot more.

It got me to thinking: why is anyone paying such high monthly bills to Cable TV anymore? If you've stayed with Cable, what is it that keeps you there? If you switched to something else, what are you using instead? Are you satisfied with the amount of programming available at low monthly fees? Or do you miss the expensive Cable TV?