Thursday, December 03, 2015

Life after cutting the cord could use an antenna

There is a rising tide of cord cutters, people who have given up on cable or satellite subscription service but keep the internet access. I am one of them. For much of my life, I've had a subscription to cable, but in recent years, we just couldn't justify the cost of cable. Even with the minimum barebones subscription to basic cable, I always had this nagging feeling, a sort of obligation to watch TV.

But life gets busy. I have a job, a family, and a wife. I mean, I have a life. I can't sit in front of the TV for 4 hours a day like the average American and I certainly can't imagine where they get the time to do that. I shudder at the thought of sitting in front of the tube for that long. I'd rather watch my kids grow up, work on my computer, go for a walk, read a book or just hang out with people. I know. I'm old school.

In the last ten years, I got married, had kids and during that time, bounced around from cable to satellite to nothing. Then my wife got the idea of buying an antenna. The first one we bought was crap and didn't pull in anything except Telemundo. But that might have something to do with the location we were in before. We were at the bottom of the valley then. Now we live above the valley, and I see the valley every day on the way to work.

So we tried the antenna again. This time, it worked and it worked wonders. It's much bigger than the last one we bought and it works indoors. I think we get some 30 channels and most of them have English language programming. Surprisingly (or not), there are a few shopping channels over the air. There are also a few networks that I thought were cable or satellite only, like Qubo. But they're there. There's even a national weather network on the air. And we have a few PBS channels to choose from.

Now we can get the local news to check the weather or see what's happening in the city. Still pretty much the same as it was with cable. The news is mostly about very confused people doing really awful things to other people. I just watch the weather if the weather app (weatherbug.com) on my phone shows anything interesting on the horizon. If there is a chance of rain or snow, I get interested. Otherwise, I'm busy with the kids, fixing something around the house or watching something else on my computer.

I have Netflix and pay for the streaming only option. I can watch that anytime I have the time to watch it and have just started Jessica Jones. I've been getting into the Marvel thing on Netflix - definitely R-rated but great character development. I have YouTube, too. What I like about YouTube is that I can pick any topic off the top of my head and find a video on it. I can learn about anything there. There's a massive ecosystem of content to watch or listen to across the internet. If you want to pay for it, there are plenty of video services to choose from. Just pick one and try it.

As far as content goes, Netflix is the only thing I'm willing to pay for. I can watch what they have commercial free. In fact, there has been a dynamic with cable and satellite that has always bugged me. When I had a cable subscription, I was paying for access to content. The cable companies pay the content networks, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, Comedy Central, etc, for retransmission rights. But most of those channels carried commercial content.

So let me get this straight. I'm a consumer. I'm willing to pay money for things that I see advertised on TV (theoretically). But I'm the one paying for the content? I'm paying to see commercials? And I pay *more* for commercial free content?

Here, the antenna makes so much more sense. I know. Old school. But I'm not paying money for local channel access. I don't feel obligated to watch it at all. It's 720p but who cares? It's free. The advertisers pay for it, not me. I just bought the TV and the antenna, that's it.
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