The Cable Cabal

We know much of what is wrong with cable TV. It’s paid for so there shouldn’t be commercials every five minutes and yet: ads, ads, ads. There are only a couple of companies that offer cable, so your options are Suck or Suckier. Worst of all, the ESPN catalog is super expensive and must be bundled together with hundreds of other channels no one wants in order to spread the cost around. Nielson ran a study to determine exactly how many of those hundreds of channels we watch, on average. The answer? 17.

Last year, U.S. cable subscribers got a record average of 189 channels in prepackaged bundles but watched only 17 of those channels, according to a report this week by Nielsen. And the appetite to view more channels, even when offered vastly more television content, hasn’t changed much in years. In five years, cable companies added 60 more channels for the typical subscriber, but viewers haven’t increased their consumption of new content. They have consistently watched an average of 17 channels.

Can you even name 17 channels? 17 is a goodly number. But 189 is way goodlier. Consumers are tired of it: “The top two cable television providers — Comcast and Time Warner Cable — lost a combined 1.1 million subscribers last year, according to a report by the Leichtman Research Group.” Follow their lead and unshackle yourself from this debacle. Freedom can be yours too! In the comments, people suggest their favorite work-arounds for a Cable Free life:

Newsbug2 says:

Go out an buy the ClearSteam4. Where I reside, I get 40+ channels; plus all of the locals except one that transmits in Low Frequency wave length. You will have Aerio soon.

John55287 says:

Indoor suggestion: $40 Mohu Leaf. From Cap Hill I get 36 channels. Previous Radio Shack antenna: 3 channels. Mohu is awesome.

There’s also, of course, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime (now with more HBO!). How do you get by without cable, or is there an argument to be made for keeping the old boat on the water? Are you moved by the “it’s like health insurance” point? (As TowerTone explains, “I look at bundling more as “Entertainment Socialism” where we all pay our ‘fair share’ so that others less fortunate can get ‘universal access’ to their desired shows. Why should the middle class and one-percenters be the only ones to get HGTV and The Golf Channel…?”) Why indeed.

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