Cord-Cutter’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Cord-cutters” may sound like more of a medical term, or maybe a tailor’s pair of specialized corduroy scissors, but in this instance I’m referring to the wave of consumers choosing to opt out of expensive cable subscriptions that often include thousands of unwatched channels–along with plenty of customer service headaches which often lead nowhere. 

The idea was largely born of our growing “on-demand” culture in conjunction with the lack of competition amongst cable/TV services, and consequently, the lack of options. Try to sign up for an internet-only package. You likely won’t save much money while still losing your precious channels, if it is an option at all. 

There are a lot of ways to go about enjoying your favorite shows without dealing with the costs, both financial and emotional, of a major cable-provider subscription. They range from having internet-based television channels and antenna hardware that grants free basic cable to combinations of a Roku device and a premium cable subscription. 

With premium channels like HBO and Showtime offering contract-free streaming of their entire content offerings for prices similar to Netflix, it’s becoming easier and easier to access top-quality content without a cable box.

 

My personal experience has primarily been with Google’s Chromecast, but that tiny device alone has made my cable-free life much, much easier being able to stream most of what I watch directly from my phone to my TV without lifting a finger.  There are also SmartTVs that already have these capabilities built-in, but I like my Stupid TV.

The advancement in streaming technology has perfectly complemented the recent surge in production quality for internet-based shows and movies. Series like House of Cards–the first streaming-only series to win an Emmy–have catered perfectly to the age of binge-watching, releasing all episodes at once and maintaining a Hollywood-quality production. 

 

Netflix hasn’t been shy about moving into serious studio territory. How this plays out will be interesting to see, with Netflix having exclusive rights to a film, does that mean I won’t have the option to watch it in theaters? 

It’s an exciting time witnessing the stubborn cable Goliaths scramble to keep up with the likes of Netflix, a company that used to mail DVDs a week after you wanted to watch it; a company that Blockbuster ironically declined to acquire back in 2008 before its collapse. 

 

There are still holdouts that prevent more people from cutting the cord, such as live news–TV shouldn’t be your news source, but that’s another story for another time–or live sports. Apps like WatchESPN grant access to some games, mainly college-level, but many are slow to roll their content out independent from broadcast advertisers.

The arms-race continues as Hulu, YouTube and Apple look to join the fun in producing live television content. The very idea of cord-cutting is only the first form of what I expect will evolve into a more consolidated service or piece of tech that lends itself to our cheap and lazy minimalist culture. 

 

With fewer and fewer people subscribing to cable TV packages, it’s hard to imagine a future where cable boxes still dominate the home entertainment center. Ten years ago, having personalized ringtones on my Nokia was the height of my pocket technology.

In another ten years we could be watching sports on our Microsoft watches and getting the latest news on our car window’s heads-up display. To quote my hero, Dick Whitman, “the future is something you haven’t even thought of yet.”