I cut the cord on cable TV almost 5 years ago. Netflix, Hulu Plus, NBA League Pass, and WWE Network have covered all of my TV watching needs since then. The decision had consequences—consequences that become more acute as time went on. The Watch ESPN app has become progressively worse as time has gone on. I remember a time when one could watch many quality sports events ESPN3 (The Tres). These days, one is lucky to get a mid-major conference football game on a Saturday afternoon. On the other hand, I would have never been introduced to, or have an epic man crush on, French Top 14 Rugby if it wasn’t for Watch ESPN.
The thing I like least about cable TV is the sheer number of channels that I couldn’t care less about. It is true, generally, that those channels make up the overwhelming minority of one’s cable bill on a per channel basis. The average channel cost in September, 2013 was 28 cents; however, the number is skewed upward by ESPN, which costs 4 times more than any other channel, as you can see below.
My dream, as a cord cutter, is to pick and choose which channels I subscribe to a la carte, so I was cautiously optimistic as both HBO and CBS announced streaming services in mid-October. Seven dollars per month seems like a small price to pay for classic CBS programming, past and current seasons of on-air series, and live-streaming. Similarly, getting streaming content from HBO for around 15 dollars per month seems worth it, though there aren’t enough details about the service to make a definitive call. In terms of value, WWE Network ends up being huge: all Pay-Per-View events are live streamed; all WWE, WCW, and ECW Pay-Per-Views from the past are available on demand; classic shows from WWE, WCW, ECW, and WCCW are available on demand; and first run content is produced on a regular basis.
The hope, then, is the move by CBS and HBO to streaming services opens the floodgates for other networks to move to streaming services. Such a move would free consumers in general from cable companies that more and more are acting as middle-man and consumer inhibitor. In turn, the way consumers purchase entertainment will fundamentally change toward an environment where consumers hold the power to determine the long term success or failure of content providers on a channel by channel or network by network basis. Add to this services like Netflix making original content, and the variety of streaming television content becomes enormous for the consumer looking to cut the cord once and for all. If more networks follow suit, cable TV distributors will feel sufficient market pressure to either update the way they package channels to be more open to the market, or update their internet infrastructures to handle the increased demand in bandwidth.
In spite of the negative consequences, I’m happy with my decision to cut the cord. As more and more people choose to go without traditional cable television, it will be interesting to see how distributors adapt to changes in market attitudes.
To the cord cutters out there: Do you miss cable TV? Are there things you wish you could see streaming, but can’t?