Here We Go—Plunging Into a World Without Cable TV

26 Jun

aereo_scales-justice_content-2__largeOh  hell! Before I could even pull out the scissors, The United States Surpreme Court made my life a little harder by ruling Aereo is illegal. Damn, damn, damn!

Sorry about that. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s start with my determination to stick it to the man. And by the man I mean AT&T and Comcast. After a surprisingly high level of introspection I’ve decided to cut the cord and join the legions of people living without cable TV. Like many people I have, for years and years, sent of a monthly payment to one cable company or another, grimacing and asking for the privileged of being raked over the coals for yet another month.

CTCEvery month I grumbled about how much I was paying for the diminishing value I receive. True, the cable companies pump hundreds of channels into the lineup. But the reality is that I was paying for tons of channels I will never use. A few weeks of scrutinizing what I was actually watching made it clear to me that I really only used fewer than a dozen channels. It was an eye-opening exercise. So I was paying for the Lexus and driving a Toyota.

At the same time I certainly knew about alternatives. I own three Roku boxes, going back to the very first generation. When I shipped my daughter off to college a Roku went with her, and quickly became as valuable to her as the in-room Keurig. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Watch ESPN. Nonetheless I keep sending $144 to AT&T ever month, just telling myself it’s better than the $190 Comcast was squeezing from me.

Well no more.

The aha moment came last week as I was paying the Uverse bill.  In the living room my college-age kid was on her 77th viewing of Grey’s Anatomy via Netflix. Downstairs the teenager was mind-melding with her laptop watching Hulu, YouTube or some other streaming site. The cable box could have easily been modern art for all they used it. The only one watching broadcast TV was me, with either CBS This Morning or NBC Nightly News on the TV in my office.

And that’s when I fell head-first into an existential crisis. I make my living helping companies embrace the tools and services of the digital landscape. What the hell was I doing clinging to a 1970s view of home entertainment? But I am a news junkie. Call it a lingering hangover of a career in daily journalism. (Then again it may have been the reason I was journalism to begin with.)

It was a big transition for me to abandon reading printed newspapers in favor of online versions. I still get the Sunday New York Times, although in truth it often stays in its blue bag while I read the iPad version. But this, could I really kiss off cable and still get what I want from broadcast news and entertainment?

Which brings me back to Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that Aereo could not capture over-the-air broadcast TV and make it available via the Internet. That was going to be the starting point for my grand experiment. Just three days earlier I signed up for their service, complete with the DVR capability. I was enjoying watching Brian Williams wherever I was on whatever device I wanted, even on my big TV using Aereo’s Roku channel.

But no, the court says that won’t work. So I’m left with lots of research to do and choices to make. But I am determined that by the end of July UVerse will be banished from my home and I will maintain access to everything I currently enjoy.

I have no idea quite how I’m going to make this happen. But I will chronicle my successes, and inevitable missteps, along the way.

Here we go.