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The next big thing: TV is gone

A few months ago, we decided to get rid of cable TV at home: I believe that TV the way it exists today will disappear in a short to mid term future.

Just like film cameras, or magnetic cassettes and vinyl records, Walkmans or even paper maps have recently disappeared, replaced by digital cameras, portables media players such as iPods or GPS.

When I purchased a digital camera, an iPod or a GPS 10 to 5 years ago, my friends just thought I was a geek. Now, everyone has one of these and ask me how to save their CD’s and DVD’s on a hard drive…

My natural next step is to get rid of the cable TV, and I’ll watch it disappear around me in the next 10 years.

Here are the main drawbacks I see for cable TV:

1 – It’s expensive.

Well, let me rephrase that: it’s *very* expensive. We paid more than $100 a month for a service that was not designed for our needs. It included a rental for the High Definition (HD) PVR, and so many channels that we didn’t want but needed just to be able to see the few ones we wanted. My wife wanted to see “True Blood” in HD. But it was on HBO, and we didn’t had that one. To get HBO in HD, we had to take a “bundle” with another 5 channels we didn’t care about. That’s how the TV distribution companies work. It made this TV show cost 16$ a month. On top of that, it’s not enough for the cable TV that I pay this premium every month for 90% of channels I don’t even care about (especially when you realize that so many are just duplicates), so I’m served with advertising that I don’t really care about right in the middle of the show. Therefore, Rogers was making money both by selling me channels I didn’t care about and by getting revenue from the advertisement I don’t care about…

2 – It’s not user friendly

Some could argue with me there. Just turn it on and watch, there is nothing more simple eh? Now, with the Internet everywhere, I’m more used to: search for something I’m interested in, see my choice of content, pick and chose what I like, try and pay if I want, and do all this whenever I want or can. A video on Youtube doesn’t “air” at prime time, it’s available any time. TV on demand or pay per view movies are not that easy to see at all. So I don’t like that if I want to see my favourite show at a different day or time, and with an opportunity to skip the crappy commercials, I need to first program it, and then retrieve it, hoping I’m not going to miss the last most important 3 minutes of the show… When I buy a DVD or some content on line, it’s where I want, when I want, and it’s easier to access.

3 – It has poor choice, it’s controlled (and brainwashing)… And to add the last straw, I received a letter from Rogers telling me that they were going to increase my bill by 3% to help bring this crap to the regions of Canada where they don’t have TV… I’m going to save them the hassle, and stop paying for TV all together, and would assume that with all the money Rogers makes on my back, they can certainly afford bringing some cash cow infrastructure to these remote places without more of my help.

Now, the advantages?

My wife only argued that it was convenient for the kids to be able to see some of the kids safe channels at times. I agree with that, and told her that if there was such need, we could always get the cable back. Guess what? We are not taking it back, and our child has never asked to watch TV as she has more than enough with her DVDs or simply Internet and Youtube.

So, we figured that with $100 a month or $1200 a year, we could purchase a lot of content, DVDs or on line, with the iTune Store for instance, and play them on HD, when we want it, using the Apple TV.

For instance, we purchased the latest “Lost” season pass in HD for about $60, which is even cheaper than the DVD set. I have set up a network drive with around 700 movies and animations, all accessible from the couch on the HD TV, using the Apple TV. We buy a movie on line or some DVD’s whenever we want.

I don’t think we’ll go back now that we tasted this kind of freedom. The only last concern is that the same company owns the cable TV distribution and the Internet, and it’s not in their interest that I can replace their crappy cable TV with their Internet, so they can get more our of my pocket. So they throttle peer to peer, they add monthly bandwidth cap, and reduce their service while increasing the price of it. Well, the only thing they are really doing is slowly pushing me to another company and losing me as a customer all together!

Way to go, Rogers, and no, I won’t go to Bell either 😉

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