Saying Goodbye to Kabletown

02/01/2011 By Shawn Burns

I just got off the phone with Comcast. I canceled our home phone and cable television services.

We are media content gluttons around here, or I am at least. But when Emily suggested trying out a cable-free life for a while I thought about it as I swept the front walk.

What do I watch? What do I watch that I need Comcast to access?

The answer to that question was: Live broadcasts.

That’s it. Just live television. But of all the shows I watch on television, I only watch Maury Povich live, and that’s for a Twitter joke. Sometimes I’m able to watch a Red Wings’ game live when its on NBC or Versus, but for the most part my live hockey viewing is done online. I watched the Golden Globes live, but it’s not like my life would have been any less full if I’d not watched it at all, and honestly even that was for Twitter. It provided material for a snarky afternoon.

We record everything we watch for later. We make extensive use of the DVRs we have, and On Demand, but even more than either of these we’ve been relying on DVDs, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu, and Netflix for our media consumption.

Of all the shows we watch on regular cable that are in current season production there isn’t a single one whose current episodes aren’t available to view online in some form. And sometimes using the Internet to access media is more convenient: When we tried to catch up with Mad Men after the current season had aired, but before the DVD set was released, our only option to view it was through Amazon; it wasn’t even offered through Comcast On Demand anyway.

As for the kids, many of their favourite shows are streaming on Netflix now. And there’s no reason to pay a premium for cable access just so the kids can keep up with whatever is being broadcast live on Sprout or Nick Jr. Further, there are no commercials on the Netflix content, so I don’t have to deal with “Daddy can I get a Pillow Pet?!?” whenever Erin sees those stupid commercials.

So, what am I going to pay a premium fee to watch?

Well, what about networks like HBO and Showtime? I admit, I watch a lot of their television shows. Although I don’t watch them live, I do tend to watch them On Demand or through Comcast’s online portal, Fancast. So if we were to cancel the cable I would lose access to those shows during their regular broadcast runs. But buying a DVD set once in a while, or paying to download episodes from Amazon is cheaper, in the long run, than paying Comcast for the privilege of watching those shows as they air.

Making the decision much, much easier is the fact that we own both a Wii (Netflix enabled) and a Google TV (also Netflix enabled as well as web enabled for general sites and Amazon VOD). They will provide online access to our big televisions so that we aren’t forced to watch on small laptop screens. Not everyone is in the technological position we are, but being in that position means we can give up the cable bill altogether instead of just cutting back to a basic level.

The less money we give to Comcast, the better. Think of it as a form of protest over their acquisition of NBC. That’s not the reason, but it sure didn’t make me feel like remaining a loyal customer instead of writing them off.

Oh, and as for the home phone? Who the hell needs a landline? The only people who call our landline are telemarketers.

So, goodbye telemarketers, goodbye Maury, goodbye Golden Globes. Hello thousands of dollars a year.