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Shredding The Cord

Posted by tomwiles at 4:02 PM on February 2, 2011

Ah, my once-beloved Dish Network account – the thing I once thought I could never do without; the budget monster that consumed $100 per month, month after month, year after year. I agonized for months over the idea of simply killing it before finally pulling the plug.

It’s been the better part of a year since I put the budget-busting beast to rest and cancelled the account. Dish Network itself seemed to want to throw up as many roadblocks as possible to get me to change my mind. They wanted the LNB module off of my roof, in addition to the two receivers. I had 30 days to send the units back in the packing boxes they sent or they would make me pay full price for them.

I was able to talk the guy out of forcing me to climb up on my roof to retrieve the LNB, and I was able to get the two receivers sent back to them within the 30 days of cancellation. However, somehow they had in their billing system I had three receivers, not two. They sent return packaging for three units. I spent time on the phone with them to make sure this discrepancy was resolved, and they assured me it was.

Ooops, not so fast! A month or two later I got a letter from them stating I still owed them for a receiver and they intended to hit my bank account for the amount. A phone call to them resolved the issue and I haven’t heard a peep from them since.

How has life been without all of those channels? $ome part of me hate$ to admit it, but I haven’t missed it at all. I’ve got an Intel Mac Mini set up as a DVR for local over-the-air HD broadcasts, as well as a Netflix account and several other Internet-connected set top box viewing solutions.

Observations

A very large percentage of TV programming is marketing presented as content. Much of what passes for entertainment depicts multitudes of dysfunctional drama queens assaulting and insulting the people around them. The more dysfunctional they are, the more likely it is the marketing messages will seep into the mesmerized minds of the audience. Even if one isn’t watching commercials, product placement and even behavior placement abounds. Viewers are being programmed to buy certain products, as well as behave in certain ways.

Think you can’t do without cable or satellite TV? Think again. I was paying $1,200 dollars a year for Dish Network. Multiply that by just 5 years and that’s a whopping $6,000 dollars for the privilege of being shaped and influenced by marketing messages so I would spend even more money.

Let’s go one step further. For many people TV is an addiction. These people are crack dealers in disguise. How else could it be that they can continue to raise their prices and people continue to pay ever more?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of cable TV programming is less than worthless. Could that $6,000 dollars been better spent on higher-quality programming? Of course it could.

4 Comments

  1. From Tek at 4:24 pm on February 2, 2011

    My family got rid of cable a few months ago, and we’ve noticed that once the withdrawal was over, we were talking to each other more and reading and watching movies that we all enjoyed. I’ve also enjoyed not having constant media molding happening and have seen a huge difference. I research what I want, not want what others tell me I should ‘need’.

  2. From Rob Safuto at 4:36 pm on February 2, 2011

    I am going to give it a go this month. I picked up an HP Slimline that comes with a BluRay drive, TV Tuner and Windows Media remote. I plan on using Windows Media Center as a DVR for the broadcast channels, while also adding Boxee and Hulu Desktop. I’ll probably by a Logitech DiNovo mini keyboard if the remote is too tough to deal with.

    I considered just going with a Roku box but decided on the htpc option because Hulu won’t stream many cable channel shows to boxes or the iPad. They’re “web only”. But I will be able to access them via the htpc. Also, the Roku doesn’t do networked storage and I have a lot of movies and TV ripped to digital format. My investment is about $750 so if it all works I will break even by the end of the year.

  3. From Ken at 5:32 pm on February 2, 2011

    I have Time Warner cable, they charge $ 5.00 more per month for their Internet service If you don’t have cable TV service with them. I’m paying $ 105.00 per month under a price lock guarantee, otherwise it would cost me $ 135.00 per month and I don’t have all the channels they offer, if I did the bill would be over$ 200.00 per month.

  4. From tomwiles at 7:11 pm on February 2, 2011

    Rob, give yourself a bit of time to make the adjustment to your new setup. One important thing I realized after the fact was that when I did make a point of watching something, it was a more enjoyable experience because it was something that I chose and wanted to watch versus finding the least-boring thing currently on via channel surfing. If I do end up choosing something I find that I don’t like, I immediately cut it off and find something else. That’s where the Netflix streaming que is extremely valuable. I also subscribe to a number of tech-related video podcasts so I’ve always got interesting things available to watch. There are also some pieces of software to experiment with on your HTPC, such as Boxee and others.