Wherever the Road Leads

Good-bye Cable TV

Or, using convenience with caution

As mentioned in other posts, I do not watch network television. I have never seen “Dancing with the Stars I’ve Never Heard of Anyway” nor have I seen “American Idle” (sic). The last television I watched on a regular basis was “Cheers” and “Night Court”, both of which went off the air in the early eighties.

Eight months ago I decided that I was paying too much for Cable TV that I seldom watched and generally expanded my skills at uttering profanities when I did. I called the cable TV company – mine happens to be Comcast, but I doubt they are any better or any worse than the others who are out there – seeking advice on a way to lower my bill. The Customer Service Rep did not go into great details but I came away with more channels for $20 less per month. Sounded too good to be true.

I use on-line banking; I haven’t written a check in years. But occasionally I would get careless and miss paying a bill, incurring ‘Late’ charges, in some cases more than the amount owed. To avoid that, I have switched virtually every bill to automatic withdrawal or directly to my American Express card.

Comcast went directly against my Amex card. This month I happened to notice that my Comcast bill was up over $100 again. I looked into it and what the Customer Service Rep had switched me to was a promotional deal, with a six-month term. Six months were up, my rates went up… two months ago.

I have been pondering my television-watching habits over the past eight months. First off, a ‘half-hour’ program is closer to twenty minutes with ten minutes of commercials, for which I am paying Comcast handsomely. I’ve never timed it but I believe that the morning news/talk shows are an even worse ratio of commercial time as the segments are so cut up.

During the past eight months, in the morning I have watched ‘Fox and Friends’ on Fox plus ‘Imus in the Morning’ on Fox Business Network.

If commercials were showing on both, I would switch over to watch ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC, the worst network in the history of mankind, however “Joe” himself is a quasi-Republican and can occasionally interject a sensible comment into the salvos of lunacy emanating from the network’s ‘ready-fire-aim’ commentators, most of whom, unlike Fox, seem to have avoided the make-up department and appear on television with faces like four days of bad weather.

“The Five” was my program of choice in the afternoon. On Fox at 5:00pm, it features four conservatives and a Democrat discussing current events. The Democrat – Bob Beckel – takes a beating on this program by one conservative in particular, whom I disparagingly refer to as “STFU” and who is the cause of my mute button being worn down to a nub.

Bob Beckel, in suspenders, talking. Andrea Tantaros to the left and stfu to the right.

Here’s how I see it: Last November when Obama was re-elected, the country “lost”. The four conservatives on ‘The Five’ “lost”. The Democrat, Bob Beckel “won”. If I’m about to play a chess match with someone and he is more-than-willing to talk openly about his strategy, then I am going to keep my mouth shut and listen. I have yet to learn a single iota in life when I was the one doing the talking.

“STFU” wouldn’t let Bob finish a single sentence, constantly cutting him off and shouting him down. Bob is an intelligent, politically-experienced man and I want to hear what he has to say… how does the enemy think? “STFU” seemed to think that he was the only one entitled to an opinion. So, “The Five”, an hour-long program which is really only 42 minutes, was whittled down to a half-hour by having STFU on mute.

Following ‘The Five’, it was ‘Gunsmoke’. However, I was getting bored watching Miss Kitty’s false-eyelashes and painted-on mole in black-and-white, so many times, my TV watching was done for the day. Occasionally, I would watch ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ at 11:00 but with the insanity in Washington, I needed something more peaceful – like silence – before going to bed.

So, as I pondered my watching habits, how much TV have a I watched and how much TV have I complained about? Batting 1000, I do believe. I asked myself, what do I really need to watch? I determined there was only one thing: Alabama football.

Worst-case scenario, there are bars and restaurants I could go to to watch the games and even after a few cokes – remember ‘coke’ refers to Sprite, Diet-Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Barq’s Root Beer etc – would still be cheaper than what I’m paying Comcast. A little research taught me I can download the CBSsports App to my phone and watch it streamed live. If it’s on my phone, I have an HDMI output that I should be able to hook up to a television.

Alternatively, CBSsports.com streams the game live on the computer… in HD. Twenty-three inches is plenty big enough for me to watch a football game and a lot larger than my father used to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada in black and white.

So today, for $68, Wally World let me carry home a Netgear “NeoTV Max” streaming player. It connects to your router – internet – either wireless or hard-wired. It has a remote but you can download an App to use your smartphone to run it. It connects and streams from Netflix and Hulu for movies & TV shows (monthly ‘unlimited’ fee is $7.99) or Pandora (free) internet radio virtually commercial-free.

I have called Comcast and told them to cancel the TV part of my subscription, keeping only the High Speed Internet. Ahmoan hook up this little box then contact Netflix to start my first-month-free, $7.99 thereafter subscription.

Good-bye Cable. Good-bye commercials. I doubt you’ll be missed.

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