I left cable TV behind back in 2015.  Early in 2016 I wrote on my process in cord cutting in this article: Experiences in Cord Cutting.  Most of that article relates to the “how to” do it piece, the steps I followed.  Much of the advice remains the same however hardware obviously changes with time.

Since that time, the numbers of people leaving cable and satellite TV have been growing. A recent study shows that “50 million people in total will have dropped cable or satellite TV subscriptions by 2021”.  This trend has led Xfinity and other cable systems to offer deep discounts for their TV services in order to keep folks….of course, they are the old contracts that are for a time limited period.  After a year or so, the rates go up.  I personally don’t like that model. However, I think that cable operators forget that this is not just about money, there are other and generally more compelling reasons as to why folks quit cable.

Yes, you can save money if you cord cut.  If you are not careful, you can pay more.  I continue to save money by not having cable….but I have noticed that the monopoly on high speed internet has kept my savings from being more.

For me, there are more important reasons as to why I remain a cord cutter.  An article that came out yesterday (Cord Cutting Isn’t Just About Money: Streaming Services Are Better Than Cable) highlights some of those reasons and put voice to some I had been thinking about but had never clarified (such as the “channels are obsolete” concept).

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts as to why I love cord cutting (beyond saving money):

No or few commercials – I have really gotten spoiled by watching HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime and streaming other things where my time is not wasted by commercials.  When I watch network TV, commercials remind me of how much of an intrusion they are.

Time Shifting – This is why VCRs became popular….and then DVRs…..record what we want to watch when we want to watch it.  Streaming takes that and makes it one step easier….the program is simply there for me to view on my schedule.

Programming is more realistic – Network TV has historically had to be very non-offensive.  Certain storylines were avoided as were sex, rough language and violence.  Although I am not a fan of violence in all my entertainment, I do prefer programs with more of an edge to them…a degree of realistic grittiness that is more like real life.

More programming variety – Network TV had to appeal to a broad audience.  Cable could “narrow cast” to a degree content for a particular audience.  Streaming takes that a step further and offers very specific programing that sometimes addresses the needs of my eclectic side.

Better interface – The “how to geek” website said it well. Nothing to add.

Enjoying the bargain – Face it, we all love saving money….but there is something psychologically satisfying about watching free TV picked up over the air.

Only buying what I want – I really did not like buying all the channels of cable that I never viewed.  Although I subscribe to Sling TV off and on, I can have the same feeling about it.  There is just something psychologically about having to buy a package of channels to get the few that I want that is not satisfying.  On the other hand, I have subscribed to very esoteric services such as Gaia TV that have a very narrow focus and I end up feeling good about the purchase.  I wanted to watch these shows and I subscribed….then I canceled when the time was right.

There are probably some other reasons at play…..I must confess that I am not a fan of Xfinity/Comcast and could tell you stories of bad service….so there may be some part of me that doesn’t want to buy cable from them….if you have cut the cord, then what are the reasons you like or don’t like about it? Feel free to comment.

One final thought….TV and our personal entertainment is continuously evolving to better meet our needs.  Part of this evolution is tied to technological advancements but part of it is social changes.  The shift to cord cutting is a move away from the time sequenced delivery of programming via channels.  As the “geek” article put it: “There’s no reason for “channels” to exist anymore, other than that’s the way cable has always worked. These days, channels have become more about show branding than anything else. When you watch a show that was developed by AMC, The CW, FX, or SyFy, for example, you pretty much know what kind of show you’re getting because that’s what they do.”

Although I occasionally still enjoy sitting down and “channel surfing”, I find that more and more I can get that fix by paging through the menus and offerings of the streaming services.  Poking around in Netflix looking for something to watch is also fulfilling my surfing need.

Streaming will grow and channels will shrink. But in time, something else will rise to replace streaming.  That is just the nature of the human experience…to grow and evolve into some better, higher, greater.  It happens in all of life….our entertainment viewing is no different.

Mark Gilbert


Photo by odonata98 (Kimberly Reinhart) on Trendhype / CC BY-ND