In November of 2013, I made the decision to cut the cord and break away from my cable company. It was a conclusion I came to out of a very small amount of cost-consciousness, but a huge amount of spite. I was sick of paying the ever-increasing bills for 450 channels I didn’t watch, to a company that didn’t value my business. My relationship with our cable provider, and the content they pushed into my home, reminded me too much of that girl I dated for two weeks sophomore year; a lot of fighting, not enough intelligent conversation, and the proclivity to drain my brain and wallet. The only difference? It took me five minutes of soft conversation to ditch that brunette, but it took me forty minutes and my entire repertoire of colorful language to turn this ‘X’ into my EX
Unfortunately, regardless of all the stories of sunshine and roses that we hear each month from the government, radio and television broadcast jobs are becoming increasingly more difficult to acquire and maintain. Long time veterans, people with marquis names, are being put out to pasture. Often these are people for whom broadcasting was a lifelong career. Now, at ages that apparently exceed the tolerance threshold of some Boards of Directors, these pros are, as Joel Denver used to say, “On the Loose.”
As I embarked upon my new adventure, I was surprised just how easy it was. I switched my Internet service to a different, kinder ISP. Cheaper, just as speedy, and infused with feelings of sticking it to the corporate succubus. My main ‘smart’ television turned into a wireless media streaming HQ for my home. I equipped the other televisions in our bedrooms and my den with a laundry list of streaming devices (an Apple TV, a Google Chromecast, and a Sony PS4) which I already had on hand. Because of a pre-existing arrangement with the community we live in, I still received my local stations in HD without a decoder box. Threats of scrambling that signal had never come to fruition. The lack of a Digital Transport Adapter in my home only prevented me from watching basic cable channels in an SD format. Surprisingly, I never once craved some late-night infomercials in the mold of Ronco’s amazing Super Bass-O-Matic ‘76. However, I did use some of the $1,920 cable savings we would see over the next year on a ridiculous new blender for my wife. “Fast and easy and ready to pour, mmm-mmm!”
Some would think that by cancelling a cable subscription, your intake of content would decrease. I certainly thought so. Oddly enough, we actually started ingesting more video than ever before. Our habits changed, and we found ourselves watching high levels of QUALITY programming instead. In the past, I had not been focused on the show before me, and was generally also on my mobile device. Now, I was engaged in most of what I was watching. Instead of “Best BBQ Dive of Sherbrooke Quebec,” my nights were filled with HULU or Netflix binge watching of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” A foray into some health conscious documentaries actually changed my eating habits, and helped me lose over twenty pounds. I subscribed to MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter, and was watching my native, out-of-market New England teams with renewed passion. The white noise of endless commercials shifted to more focused grabs at my attention. A smart product placement here. A content-aligned spot there. A different feeling came over me when I turned on the television after a hard day at the office; I was happy and I was informed. I was choosing to participate in the things I cared about, rather than numbly scrolling through endless drivel. I felt empowered by only paying for the services I wanted, rather than blindly writing checks to get obtain extras that are completely irrelevant in my life.