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Sara McManamy Johnson's column: Cutting cord on cable appears to have worked out for the best
Jan 11, 2013 3:50 pm
In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On). I think about that song every time I scroll through 2,000-plus channels looking for something remotely appealing. Some things never seem to change, no matter how many channels you add.
Recently, I realized that my husband and I were spending hundreds of dollars each month for our super-duper-deluxe cable package when, between the two of us, we had about six shows that we ever watched. I wanted to ditch the cable, but I knew I would miss the shows that I did follow.
So, the plotting began.
I was already familiar with Hulu Plus, the device-friendly version of the video-aggregator website, Hulu.com. I knew that with the right device we could just stream our shows directly to our living room television. The trick, I knew, would be to make it cost-effective.
So, I scoped out some of the holiday sales and found a sub-$100-Blu-Ray player that included Wi-Fi streaming capabilities.
The next task was to make sure that our Internet speed was up to par – I’m just a bit impatient by nature, so I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of patience if my shows stalled a lot during streaming. My cable company offers pretty decent high-speed Internet, so I signed up for their mid-tier service.
Finally, everything was in place to – figuratively – cut the cord.
My husband gathered the cable box and remote and brought them to the cable company’s office. The line stretched out the door when he arrived, and as he spoke with other customers over the next 45 minutes in line, he realized that most of the people were there to cancel their television services. They had all received media streaming devices, such as the Roku player, for Christmas.
I felt partially vindicated and partially deflated with I learned this – apparently my stroke of genius was not as ingenious as I had thought.
It’s now been about two weeks since we cancelled our cable television services, and I wonder why I didn’t do it long ago. With Hulu Plus, I can subscribe to my favorite shows so that whenever the latest episodes are added, they automatically appear in my queue. After I watch them, they disappear – no muss, no fuss. If I want to watch them again, I can easily pull it back up.
Shows from almost all of the main networks – CBS is a notable exception – are available, and with download speeds ranging from 6-16 megabytes-per-second, I have no complaints about viewing experience.
In the grand scheme of things, television is definitely not a necessity – I’ve gone for years without it at points in my life and barely missed it. But once you get used to having it, you can almost go through withdrawals when it’s taken away.
With the Internet-based streaming, I can keep many of the things I love about television – Castle, anyone? – without paying for 2,000-plus channels with nothing on.
Sara McManamy-Johnson is a staff writer for The Lebanon Democrat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.