The Great Cable Debate

tvThese days, a lot of people in their twenties discuss “cutting the cord.”  That cord, of course, being the cable cord bringing in dozens, if not hundreds, of TV channels.  Reasons for cutting the cord have traditionally been either monetary or usage.  People did not want to spend the money or would not use it enough to make the expense worthwhile.  Nowadays, though, other options exist as a substitute.

One substitute to cable, that is totally free, is broadcast.  A handful of channels, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, send their shows out for free in cities.  The recent nationwide upgrade to digital broadcasting gives a higher quality than ever before.  Most popular shows come in over network TV, and you can get local news from these channels as well.  If you have a TV and no cable, this is the default option.

However, if you need a fix of “The Hills” or weekly Monday Night RAW, you need cable or a dish.  Those pay channels only come in over cable.  I enjoy being able to watch Law and Order at any given time on one of a handful of channels that always have it on.  Beyond there, for true movie lovers, are the premium subscription channels like HBO, Stars, and Cinemax that give you 24-7 movies.

If you are a movie lover, there is a cheaper option.  For $8.99 per month, you can watch any movie that Netflix offers streaming through your computer, PS3, X-Box, or a Roku or internet Blue Ray player.  With high speed internet, the quality is great and $8.99 is much cheaper than HBO.  If the 20,000 or so Netflix movies don’t include the one you want, that $8.99 gives you unlimited exchanges for 1 movie at a time.  Up that to about $15 for 2.

If you are a TV show lover, most networks offer their shows online at their websites, or you can find most good shows on for free the day after the show airs live.  I use the Hulu queue to ensure I don’t miss new episodes of my favorite shows like Lost and The Office.

So, does Internet let us cut the cord?  Yes, potentially.  However, it depends on what you want.

I like being able to flip through the listings and find a show I want on 100 different channels.  I like being able to turn on a free movie or show on demand.  I like TV.  So, to me, it is worth the cost.  For others, Hulu and Netflix or Redbox might suffice.

It all comes down to what you think something is worth, and what else could you do with that money that would make you happier.  Yes, this is the good old economic concept of opportunity cost.  If you can’t get a better value, or utility, from something else with a similar price tag, cable or a dish is a good way to use your hard earned money.  If there is something you find more value in, do that instead.

Either way, it is good to periodically re-asses cable and other fix cost utilities.  What do you all do?  Cable or no cable?

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