Thursday, September 20, 2007

Money talks

I am thinking that this weekend I will get rid of my cable, well sort of. I am going to keep cable, but just the most basic package. This package has 20 stations, which are mainly the local stations and a few others, and will cost me about $12. I thought about getting the standard package, but then the price jumps up to $50 and I figure if I am going to spend that much, I might as well keep the digital cable that I currently have, which is $65. I sat and counted and the digital cable has 146 channels and that doesn't count the On Demand and all music channels. I figure I probably use about 12 or 13 (I counted these too, so this is not really guess) of those 146 channels semi-regularly and will miss some of them like ESPN and Versus (for hockey season) and BBC America, but it was not worth me paying that much money for channels that I just don't use. What I really want is a way to pay only for the channels I use. I figure with the new digital boxes, the cable companies probably can limit access to specific channels, thus allowing me to pick which channels I want and then only pay for them. I am even willing to pay a premium for this service, I would pay $2 a channel to be able to pick, we do not pay nearly this much right now, so why not let me pay more and then have choices in what I watch. Or they could say pick 20 channels and then charge me a flat rate like they do with the basic plan, even if that rate was like $35, I can justify that because I would pick channels that I would actually watch. But they do not want to offer this service, so I am stuck dropping their coverage.

Since I am saving so much money, I thought I would look at other services so that I can still see most of the things I will be giving up. I found out that on iTunes I can watch Jon Stewart for about $10/month, so this seems worthwhile to me. The real issue is with sports. I can see most of the ACC college basketball games and that is what I want in terms of college basketball and really college football is pretty well covered between NBC, CBS, ABC and then at the end of the bowl season, Fox. Hockey is of course an issue, but I wasn't seeing that many games anyway, since only Versus carries games along with NBC occasionally. This is disappointing and I have thought about getting the pay per view hockey package, but I am not a big enough hockey fan to want to spend that kind of money. But I found out that I can listen to most of the hockey games on the internet for free, so that was good. The NFL is the real issue, I talked about this before here and basically the NFL is greedy and knows that they are the biggest sport in America, so they have me over a barrel. I have no choice in terms of watching games other than the ones on CBS or Fox except to buy another radio package since they do not offer the TV package on my cable company. I thought iTunes had a way to watch NFL games, but it is just the highlights that they want to show you from all of the games, which is of no interest to me. I love football, so I guess I will miss the Monday night games which are on ESPN, but if it is my team, the Steelers, than I can go to a bar and watch it. So, in the end sports are not even a real issue.

Satellite TV does not seem to be a real option as it is still a lot of money for the same channels I get now and do not watch, so that seems to be worthless. I honestly believe that I am not the only one who would pay more for channels I actually watched if I could pick those channels rather than having 130 that I do not watch. If someone reads this and know of a way to get and pay for only the channels I want, like an alternative service than let me know. I guess that means more movie reviews and hopefully more book reviews and a lot more time reading blogs and writing on this one.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant! With five of us it would be hard to narrow our options, but I love this idea. I get stuck in grooves and could easily just use the internet for my entertainment, music, etc.

I like the creative way you're approaching this and may follow.

Oh, and I need a picture of you that you're willing to have on Tits. I'm prepping my hotties of the left wing blogosphere. A half face pic, something discreet, a picture of your hand, whatever. It's either that or I use nice doggie.Thanks!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Dang dude, she didn't ask for my pic. I'd feel all special if I was you.

I totally agree with your ala carte channel idea. I'd love to stop subsidising all those damn christian channels.

Distributorcap said...

unfortunately this "unbundling" is not a reality yet for almost all cable subscribers.

there is movement in our useless congress (who need to spend time arguing ads rather than reality) to force the cable companies to unbundle, but of course the cable companies (like Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, Cox etc) have pretty powerful lobbyists that are trying to to prevent this -- and it is working.

i agree -- i would definitely go with the a la carte type service -- i hate paying for religious channels, i dont watch any sports (ESPN is the most expensive channel around, followed by CNN, Fox Sports and a few others) -- the prices vary by system by range anywhere from a few cents per subscriber to several dollars. ESPN might be as high as $4-5 per sub. That is very expensive.

Fox News is another channel I would drop so fast -- and they have been 'negotiating' with cable systems to get higher sub fees and better channel positions -- because Murdoch uses ALL his properties as leverage with the cable systems - you want Fox Sports he says to Comcast, you take Fox News, move the channel up, also move f/x to a better position and add the Fox Reality channel --- another big corporate clusterfuck. This goes on all the time.

The cable companies thought they had all the leverage. That is changing as fiber (like FIOS) and satellite grow. Cable used to cover 81% of NY, now it is down to 78% and falling. Satellite also has the advantage of NO local commercial insertions which local cable does have.

The best suggestion I have is to continue to harass your cable system and threaten them. I did. It sort of worked (I have Time Warner). I threaten to go to Verizon for internet (they cut that bill a bit). Most people only have one choice of cable companies due to licensing -- fortunately i also can go to RCN. I threatened that also. They gave me free Showtime and all the digital showtimes. Big deal -- but i took it. Somehow this all seems moot considering with internet and digital cable and a HD box -- i pay $147 month -- and i have no choice. There is no reception in Manhattan without cable and getting Satellite in an apt bldg is problematic.

Also write/call your Congresslazydogs CONSTANTLY. Carolyn Maloney's staff is probably so sick of hearing from me on EVERY issues, including the cable one. Chuck and Hillary also probably dread when they see 10003 zip pop up on an email, but they get so many emails it gets lost in the crowd.

Anonymous said...

Dr. MVM - I've already snagged super sexy photos of you! Silly!!!!

DCap, too. You dudes make it easy for a girl like me to ogle you.

Phydeaux Speaks said...

A la carte cable is too much like true "free market", Faux Noise, the other religious (what? Fox worships Repellicans, don't they?) channels and - horrors - QVC, etc., would go under.

As an antenna user, I must say that only on Monday night during football season do I miss cable/satellite. And I can always go over to the neighbor's house if the Panthers are on.

With NBC's recent decision to offer free downloads ('bout fucking time, I say... how broadcast channels have the nerve to charge for programming that was free over the air, grrr!), I think that the interwebs will become more and more saturated with AV media (it wouldn't really be TV anymore, would it), so there's that to look forward to.

Oh, and if memory serves, ;), there's a hockey team that recently won the Stanley Cup that plays mere (tens of) minutes from your abode. You, unlike most of us, can see games live! Why complainst thou?

Adam said...

This might come as a shock, but right-wingers wanted a la carte cable as well and the FCC somewhat supports the idea. Specifically, "family values" (heh, I never understand what that is supposed to mean) groups were pushing for pick-and-choose channels. However, the cable companies skirted the issue with them by just creating a "family values" package. []. Of course, the cable companies lobbied hard to not have compete in a true free market. The only reason that I can come across is that some channels would have so few customers they wouldn't be viable to stay around.
But, anyway, I fully support going to the limited basic cable subscription. I hve had it for awhile and I use iTunes *shudder* to get any other content I want (Southpark, Daily Show).

Boxer rebel said...

DCup- I will get you something soon. I know there are five of you, but I bet you would still be willing to drop the Christian channels and Faux News. And I am not sying that you would have to go with the a la carte cable it would just be an option for some of us, it may actually be cheaper depending on the prices of the channels for you to keep a package deal even with the unwanted channels.

Monkey- I am honored by her request.

DCap-Thanks for the info and I will now harass my Congressperson.

Phy- I know we are not a free market economy and hence why this will not happen, but I would still like it to happen. I know I am literally ten minutes from the Canes, but since I am a Penguins fan it doesn't help as much and the ticket prices are so damn high, but now that I am cutting other costs, I will probably look into going to some of those games. Oh and if some channels go under than so be it, it is simple supply and demand. There are too many shopping networks and church channels anyway.

Adam (bro??)- I understand not wanting to use iTunes, but in my opinion it is better than paying for cable and it is cheaper too. I am choosing to pay for what I want to watch, also Time Warner is just evil.