cable TV

I Cut the Cord

About a month ago I decided to cut the TV package off of my Google Fiber account. I simply couldn’t justify paying for all the channels I never watched. Like all TV services, Google is forced to buy network packages, so everyone ends up getting a flood of channels they’ll never watch. In my case, it was all of the Spanish language channels, a ton of sports programming and religious networks, children’s programming, and home shopping networks. When I took a look at the channel line up, out of hundreds of channels that were being offered there were probably 15 to 20 that I wanted, and 6 of those were available over the air for free with an HD antenna. So I did some math added up the cost of services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DirectTV Now and figure I could save close to 100 bucks a month if I dropped the Google TV package and went 100 percent streaming.

Now, before anyone jumps on the Google Fiber bashing bandwagon, let’s get something straight this is the same situation for any cable and internet service provider because the networks have them hamstrung. The same thing applies to Rectum, I mean Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), Cox, SureWest, ATT, DirectTV, Dish, and on and on. They all have to buy the big network packages and offer more than any customer ever really needs. There simply is no ala carte TV solution available for consumers, which sucks. Given the opportunity, I would buy each channel I watch for a set price and be done with it. Unfortunately, that isn’t coming anytime soon from what I can tell.

Here I am about 4 weeks in, and I don’t think I’ll go back. I don’t have a DVR, although there are plenty of options available. I have access to the content I want to watch. I’m actually watching less TV and engaging more with content like TED Talks on my Apple TV. Since I never watched anything beyond the national news in real time I don’t feel like I am missing any programming that I am interested in, and thanks to my Smart TV from Sony I have Netflix and Amazon built in with both offering 4K content that looks great. My only gripe is networks like CBS are trying to force me to install their app and then pay for individual shows which means I am forced to watch programs like 60 Minutes, and CBS Sunday morning on my Computer or iPad through the CBS News websites, and I’m OK with that.

Over the last year Pay TV has continued to decline as streaming services continue to produce original content, and offer up programming available from other networks. I don’t see this trend ending which is going to force the major networks and cable providers to rethink their strategy. They are going to have to figure out a new model because I’m not the only one cutting the cord and moving on.

Out of all the channels shown below, the highlighted ones are those that we watched, and some of those were few and far between. 5 of them are available for free over the air in HD. 220+ channels and we were watching 15 of them.

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Hulu Really Could Change Everything

Yesterday posted a rather dreamy vision of how we will consume media and interact with TV, Internet, Mobile device etc. If you didn’t read it, the basic point was where are we going to be in 10 years, and get ready because how you use things like your TV especially will be a very different animal. I really think that cable providers are going to have to re-think the way they do business. Their business model is a mess, and really they seem out of touch with what consumers want.

On the Hulu blog, there were some interesting year-end facts they posted. And this is why I think you won’t experience  TV the same way you do today in 5 or so years.

– Monthly users of Hulu, as measured by comScore, grew to over 43 million, a 95 percent increase over this time last year.

– Monthly streams, as measured by comScore, grew to 924 million, a 307 percent increase from this time last year.

– Hulu’s content library doubled over the past year. They now offer over 14,000 hours of premium content, up from 5,600 hours at this time last year.

– Hulu grew from 130 content partners last year to over 200 today, which includes the addition of Disney/ABC content.

– The number of advertisers/marketers Hulu have served has more than doubled, growing from 166 to 408. As a team, we are extremely excited about the atypically strong results we have been able to drive for our marketing partners.

– 6.4 million Hulu video players were embedded across the web in 2009, a 237 percent jump from 2008 levels. To date, Hulu players have been embedded on over 207,000 websites.

– Some of the more prominent consumer-facing innovations from 2009: Hulu Desktop, Captions Search, Continuous Play, Tags, and the ongoing innovation hub that is Hulu Labs.

– Our search service managed nearly 1 billion search queries in 2009, up 175 percent from 2008.

– The five most popular shows on the service in 2009:

– Hulu’s most embedded video of 2009 was the live stream of Barack Obama’s inauguration.

– The most popular clip on Hulu in 2009 was “Motherlover“, a Saturday Night Live Digital Short.

– The most popular full episode on Hulu in 2009 was Family Guy’s “Stew-Roids.”

– Our customers had a lot to say about us in 2009, and Hulu listened carefully. Some of the more colorful comments (via Twitter):

  • BradMays: If Hulu.com truly is an evil alien plot to take over the world…I’ve already been assimilated.
  • andrewjmay: Dear Hulu, This has been on my mind for a while now, but tonight is the night that I let you know my true feelings….I love you.
  • kiki_miserychic: I’m getting a coffee from McCafe tomorrow because Hulu told me to do it. My brain is liquidy slush.
  • Tiffanyasapun: found Hulu.com and my feet hurt. Those 2 are unrelated.

– Hulu was fortunate to receive a number of awards over the last year, including being named the World’s 3rd Most Innovative Company (Fast Company, March 2009), being included in TIME magazine’s Top 50 Best Websites, and ranking among the Top 5 fastest rising Google search terms.

Time warner cable, my media center and resolution

UPDATE: When this was posted, I stayed with Time Warner. Within six months I dropped them and went with Direct TV. Why, Because Time Warner Cable’s product continued to fail at every opportunity. I still use TWC for internet service, but I’m dropping it for Google Fiber within the next couple of months. Road Runner has continued to be a huge problem. It never works, It’s slow as hell, and the cost keeps going up. The issue is still the same. To many people in my area trying to use an overloaded cable connection. The main hub is simply overloaded and there isn’t enough bandwidth to our homes. Customer Service has been horrible, and Time Warner has never fully fixed the problem, even after 3 years of service calls.

So Time Warner came clean on Saturday. After sending two technical managers and master techs to my house, they admitted the problem was not the wiring in my house, my HDMI cables, or the line from the street to the house. What was the problem? Time Warner’s main switchers were overloaded to the neighborhood. That’s right the pipeline that feeds cable to the neighborhood couldn’t handle the amount of HD traffic requested. The solution. Time Warner has decided to run a major overhaul on the cable switching station two blocks away that feeds about 300 homes in Rosedale. Am I happy? Yes and no. Happy they admitted it’s their fault and they will fix it. Not happy that for 7 weeks I have had spotty service, and it took a threat to get this resolved. So when AT&T U-Verse with fiber becomes available on my street next year, I’m switching back.

Now for the media cabinet. It is finished and I have re-hung it to the wall after last Saturday’s rush job before the house warming party.

The unit is basically a large thin box with cantilevered glass shelves that hold the cable box and DVD player. All cables and speakers are hidden behind the edges, and there is a slot behind the face that will hold a Mac Mini wired into the whole unit. The media center is painted the same color as the wall so it will blend in and disapear.

Based on the Muro Media cabinet from Design Within Reach, my version including the TV mounting bracket cost less than 200 dollars. The DWR version is 650 plus tax and shipping.