So to save money, when I finally get out of school, I think I will attempt something called “cuting the cord,” or forgoing a cable or satellite television subscription. Paying $80 a month to watch a few channels but ignore the vast majority seems pretty silly to me.
Many see the demise of cable and satellite as an inevitable event in the future of video content viewing. With the expanded presence of streaming video sources including Google TV, Netflix, Roku and Boxee video streaming content boxes, Hulu, and Amazon Prime’s brand new instant video service, it seems like many people must be cutting the cord already.
Indeed, I have nearly cut the cord during my nearly four years at college. Indeed, many Stanford students do cut the cord as soon as they arrive on campus. Many dorms do not use student funds to pay for cable in their lounges and most individual students opt to forgo cable in their dorm rooms. Instead, they turn to watching television on their laptops. Oh college.
Pride would save me from watching television on a 13 inch computer screen in my adult apartment. I would find $80 to shell out each month to watch television on a television. But now that more and more streaming options are available through actual televisions, it looks like I will be able to watch that television at a much lower cost.
So with so many cost effective streaming options out there–options that are affordable for even cheap college students like myself–it should be obvious that many people are ditching cable and satellite TV to save some cash. Some see it as common wisdom.
But yesterday, TIME’s Techland blogger Graeme McMillan asked whether the belief that many people are cutting the cord is actually myth. He reported that in the fourth quarter of 2010, DirecTV saw its largest growth in 10 years and that 2010 was its second strongest year ever. His question about the reality of cutting the cord is reasonable.
If we think about it, how much TV are we actually watching here at school? With everything that’s going on in my life, I watch only a couple of shows and one of them is Lost, a series that ended a year ago.
I’m not really all that up to date on TV and it does not take too much effort to seek out the few current shows that I do watch. High definition sports content is in incredibly high demand, and while sports are available online, the video quality delivered by cable and satellite provides a fantastic experience. And the cable and satellite companies seem to finally be taking a cue from the streaming trend — people want more content on demand. And while my satellite connection was occasionally knocked out by a storm back home, my wireless is generally sluggish here.
My thinking is that with more content fluidity, better user interfaces, more consistent service, and exclusive content, the cable and satellite providers are providing something that streaming along is not. People are streaming, but they are not fully cutting the cord all the way. Just like I cheated to go watch the Super Bowl or The Office in real time on some campus television, others probably know that they will want to cheat too often. But it’s just tougher to cheat when you don’t have a campus of televisions to fall back on.