Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why are you still paying for cable service?

There are few bills that families have today that are as unnecessary as cable television bills, but there are still fewer bills that are as often thought of as being indispensable. The fact is that television has become the predominant means of entertainment and information gathering in our society, and many corporate executives have a vested interest in ensuring that we not only continue to think we need television to live, but that even when we’re paying a monthly fee for television access, we also need to sit through commercials, too! 

Doesn’t make much sense, does it? In the eighties, when cable television really took hold of our society, paying for television meant that we didn’t have to sit through commercials. Remember that? No? Well, it’s true! Today, though, you get the same commercials on cable that you do on network television, and sometimes even more! What if this trend was reversed, though? What if rather than three to five minutes of commercials, you only had to deal with 90 seconds of commercials? Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Too good to be true? Nope. While you might be paying up to $200 per month, and sometimes more depending on the packages you purchase to view your favorite shows, you might be able to get the same shows, if a little later than the day they air, just by paying for an internet connection and either an internet subscription to a streaming site or just watching the show on the network’s website.

There are other options, though, too, and they don’t always require you to navigate through five different websites. Fortunately, they’re also extremely cost-effective options, particularly if you only follow one or two shows per week, and don’t necessarily need to have all the junk channels that cable providers force on you. These options include stand-alone internet tuners, and video game systems that you may already have around your home, but that you haven’t had time to consider in place of your cable box. 

While this is far from a complete solution for the dedicated channel surfer in your household, there are a lot of benefits to switching from a cable-based television system to an internet-based system. First, since you’re pretty much filtering out the dreck by yourself, the television won’t be on nearly as much as it used to be. Think about it after all - how often have you sat through a TV program thinking that it was complete garbage, but didn’t have anything better to do because you only had a half-hour to kill until your favorite show was on? Well, internet television and streaming sites do you the favor of being there when you want them. Can’t sleep at 3 am? Go ahead and catch up on that soap opera.

Sites such as these, as well as the specialty systems that are available like the Roku and Apple TV players are on the cusp of making cable television, not to mention satellite services, a thing of the past. Consumers have been asking cable providers for the ability to pick and choose what channels to watch without having to purchase packages for decades, and finally, these pieces of technology can do what the corporate cable companies have long been unwilling to. Some even speculate that this technology signals the end of hard disc media all together - that most households will move to cloud-based storage of media such as music, games and movies, and streaming of television and movies from online sources. The biggest surprise might just be the price, though. A top of the line streaming device won’t cost you more than $200 for its initial purchase. Additionally, broadband internet connection prices are coming down thanks to intense competition, and the rise of high-definition digital media in network television has made the good ol’ rooftop television antenna a good bet for households that just want to be able to catch the evening news without having to pay a premium to their cable company to do so. Kind of makes you think twice about having that cable company stock in your 401-k, now, doesn’t it?

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