I’ve been thinking about doing this for more than a year. But I have kept my Dish Network service because I didn’t want to be without access to watching local news. Finally, for the first time since the 1980s, I’m not going to be paying a cable/satellite bill next month.
With some prompting from my son Josh, who has not had cable or satellite TV for several years, I found a digital antenna for local stations that works. So I made the call this week, and now I won’t be paying that $60 every month for the privilege of watching TV.
Turns out I’m not alone. According to a Mashable story, “Fifteen percent of all Americans have cut the cord to paid cable or satellite subscription TV service, according to the Pew Research Center’s Home Broadband 2015 survey. Among young adults ages 18 to 29, 19 percent have cut the cord and 16 percent never had cable TV in the first place.”
What took me so long? It’s not like I’ll be missing anything. Spoiled by months of watching Netflix, HBO and Showtime, I can’t stand to sit through shows with commercials on the few stations I was watching in real time — cable news networks, Comedy Central and the occasional jump to TBS or FX.
Anything worth watching is available through streaming. I’ve got Amazon Prime and Netflix, which would be enough quality entertainment to fill all my available TV watching hours. Currently, I’m binging on “Stranger Things” on Netflix. But I’m especially lucky because my girlfriend Paula, who still has a landline phone, subscribes to AT&T’s U-Verse, an account she very politely shares with me so that I can access her list of stations that have streaming apps. In short, I have a lot of high-quality programming available to me.
Plus, I’ve noticed recently that network TV stations have gotten so challenged for quality programming that one has gone to stupid game shows in prime time. And don’t get me started on reality shows. Even the good dramas I’ve watched, like Madam Secretary, Scandal and Blacklist, I choose to record and watch after their original air date so I can skip the commercials.
As for local news, there’s no reason to watch it in real time, especially when I have to watch that silly woman from the Kia Store every five minutes in a commercial. I’m certainly not going to depend on weather forecasts that, in the last week, have wrongly predicted rain on at least four days. So I can catch important stories on my phone or at the station web sites without my brain being assaulted with pitches for new cars, insurance and windows for my house.
Like anything else, TV viewing is all about choices, and customers like me are adapting and realizing that we don’t need cable or satellite. Let’s see how satellite TV programmers and the big networks adapt as their customer bases shrink.