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Cable Unbundling

Some cable companies are pushing for unbundled channels — but not for you

Ah, so some companies have been listening.  I’ve been wanting a more a la carte version of programming choices, versus big channel packages that contain a couple hundred channels that I don’t care about.  As of right now, as soon as our DirecTV contract is up in December I’m shutting the service down.  It’s just not worth it, by a looooong shot.

True, I could make my current channel package cheaper.  But I’ve grown accustomed over the years to some features that I don’t want to let go, features that I kinda think should be standard now.  Which ones?  Well, HD for one, especially for local channels that only broadcast in HD.  Please tell me why it’s OK for them to downconvert HD signals to SD so you have to be willing to pay for the HD upcharge if you want the HD signal.  Another would be DVR service.  Things changed ever since I got a Tivo years and years ago.  I don’t want to watch TV now that I can’t pause, rewind, fast forward, skip commercials, and basically watch whatever show whenever I want to watch it.  I don’t want to go back to having to sit in front of the TV at a particular time to see what I want.  I would rather not watch TV.  Seriously.

If you are curious, BTW, my current package costs me around $94 a month.  That’s just ridiculous.  You must think I have every channel for that price.  Wrong.  What do I have?  Well, I do have the “plus” channels, because I had to get the higher package to get a couple of the channels I actually want (shocker; and I really mean a couple, i.e. not 20 but around 2-3).  I also have HD and DVR, and I had to pay more for the special receiver that can do both.  Oh, and that’s another thing.  I paid $200 or more for that receiver, but I only “lease” it.  I don’t own it, though there’s technically a charge on my bill every month for the receiver’s lease fee (it’s negated due to my package).

And how much do we actually watch our DirecTV?  Very little.  My daughter watches TV every once in a while, but most of the time she watches Netflix or things we already own.  As for the rest of us, every once in a while we’ll watch something, like maybe The Daily Show or, if we just can’t wait till the next day, Doctor Who.  We don’t channel surf, because it’s usually futile and none of us want to watch commercials, so it’s prerecorded stuff or nothing.  And with the prerecorded stuff we still have to fast forward through commercials (exception being Nick Jr.).

It’s much better to just buy shows through iTunes or other similar services, or just watch them via Netflix (disc or streaming).  That way I can watch what I want, when I want it, and there are absolutely no commercials.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to watch a show without commercials.  I don’t care that on a DVR I can fast forward through them, it’s still a interruption in the show.  For example it annoys me to no end when we watch Doctor Who.  I’ll just be getting back into the show, hanging on what will happen next, and then bam!  Commercial break.  It takes me out of it, instantly.  It would be like reading a book and having somebody come up every 2-6 minutes and wave stuff in your face and shouting.  Why can’t I just pay a fee and have all commercials removed from all channels?  Isn’t that half the reason I use a DVR?  HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax don’t have commercials, and they are considered “pay” channels.  I can’t get cable/satellite without paying for them, so aren’t they “pay” channels, too?

But it sounds like they still aren’t really listening, or they just don’t want to hear.  Some of the companies are splitting the channels into smaller packages, but they are still packages.  And this article explains the reasoning behind some of that.  Why?  Because some of the cable/satellite companies own some of the channels, so they want to force you to get them.  And really, if they did let you just pick what channels you wanted, there would probably be some channels that wouldn’t exist anymore.  Ah, that would be nice.  I really think there are a bunch of channels that exist solely to bulk out channel counts.  Why should I care that I get 200+ channels, when I only care about 5?

If DirecTV changed their ways and let me pick just the few channels that I want to receive, I might stay with them.  But probably not.  If I had to make a guess, it would still be too expensive.  Especially when I can take that $94 a month and buy seasons of TV shows every month from iTunes, or watch thousands of shows from Netflix for a small $8 a month fee.  Whole seasons, more than we can watch in a month if we wanted to.  Commercial free, able to be watched whenever we wanted.  The only thing we’ll be missing it live events (like parades), but in the past few years those have been streamed online more and more.

So I think cable/satellite companies should listen a bit harder, because I believe purchasing/streaming will only get bigger and bigger and easier and easier.  Oh, I think they are safe…for now.  Why?  One word: sports.  ::sigh::  There are those out there who just can’t live without access to live sport coverage, and right now the major way to see live sports is via cable/satellite.  Personally I don’t get it, but then again I’m not really into watching sports on TV, especially by myself.  But eventually I can see a day where sporting events are streamed over the net straight to your TV.  It’s already starting to happen.  Some may not even have commercials.  And as soon as it takes off………….