Why cable TV beats the Internet, for now

“Are you ready to cut cable? Probably not — yet,” Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for The Wall Street Journal.

“That pains me to say, both as tech columnist and someone who watches enough TV to own a Snuggie. Many of us are rooting for the Internet to upend our indecent cable bills,” Fowler writes. “But after reviewing pretty much every available Internet TV service, streaming box and smart TV, I’ve yet to find a replacement that covers all the TV bases while costing less. Instead, I recommend ‘shaving down’ your cable-and-broadband subscription and supplementing it with streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon and Netflix until this all shakes out.”

“Streaming services are using deals with certain channels and gadget-makers to differentiate themselves. Want ESPN? You’ll need Sling TV on a Roku or Xbox. Want Fox News? Only on Vue with a PlayStation. Want HBO Now? That requires owning an Apple TV — a total of three pieces of hardware if you want them all,” Fowler writes. “No combination of devices is as easy as just changing the channel, or choosing shows saved on the DVR.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Right now, we’re doing the full-blown cable TV with Apple TV (mainly for movies) thing. We have high hopes for an Apple streaming solution this year that’ll deliver enough of the programming that we want at a palatable price, so we can snip the cable cord once and for all.

Related articles:
All the ways a new Apple TV could dominate your living room – March 24, 2015
Analyst: Apple would burst into $35 billion home gaming market with new Apple TV App Store – March 23, 2015
All-new Apple TV set to bow in June: App Store-capable, A8-powered, Siri-enabled – March 20, 2015


    1. That’s not to say movies and television shows are not good entertainment. I am specifically meaning how with cable, there is never anything on worth watching and only an ignorant person would turn it on to watch whatever programmers want to force down your brainless mind.

      1. If Discovery channel did mostly scientific programing.
        If Travel channel did reviews of actual vacation places, types of transportation and anything that was actually helpful for planning a vacation.
        If Learning channel actually taught stuff.

        1. There are reasons why reality type shows are successful and that is because the audience can relate to the characters, and for the most part, it is unscripted.

          I tried watching a production about the Universe on Netflix the other day and fell asleep. I find some TED’s interesting, but there needs to be much more Q&A from either the audience or online. Some science type conferences on YouTube are interesting because there is banter between the moderator, panelists and audience.

          An interesting program might be a reality type show of a few scientists working on something like faster than light speed travel, antigravity, time travel, harvesting hydrogen out of the air via graphene, solar, genetic manipulation, etc. But, instead of introducing different scientists, business people and topics every episode stick with the same characters and document their trails and successes. Some of this content is on YouTube, but, for the most part, it is one guy showing his experiments and no products making it to market.

          1. As a side note: I see a future where the past can be observed and recorded. This means people will be viewing reality programming about Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and crew building Apple. Want to see the time around Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection? Boom… it’s there in ten neatly packaged episodes.

            1. There is no such thing as “reality TV” except home video shows, live sports, and to a lesser extent some talk shows.

              Wherever possible, Hollywood ALWAYS adds all the special drama and special effects and huge doses of poetic license to make their brainless shows seem more compelling than real life. Lazy people have been conditioned to prefer fantasy over experiencing real life for themselves.

              This is much like how the Bible — the highest selling books of all time (yes, books plural as there are about 36 different major versions) — has been so distorted that the real events have been twisted beyond belief, written and rewritten by people who never saw the actual events. What would today’s religious zealots do if video evidence ever invalidated their fact-free assumptions? Same goes for any ancient religion, i’m not trying to pick on judeo-christian tradition, it just happens to be an obvious example that anglophiles should understand.

              Side note: Malcolm Gladwell does a really good job of showing how the story of David and Goliath has been twisted by lazy repetition to represent practically nothing that really happened. Same goes for most of the “miracles” of ancient history. The real story is scientifically fascinating, but it didn’t capture the attention of lazy people throughout history until it was fantasized buy professional production.

  1. “I recommend ‘shaving down’ your cable-and-broadband subscription and supplementing it with streaming services such as…” and the MDN take —– voices of sanity in the midst of much over-enthusiasm.

    Let’s hope it’ll come before too long, but it ain’t here yet. Way too complex, I think, for the average member of the public. And too costly for many people, by the time you put together the programming you want.

  2. To me live TV like news, sports, etc is a downfall. The other is streaming is slow in my experience. I have Dish and if I switch the channel I am there almost instantly, with streaming you have to wait for it to buffer and then start showing it and is way to slow for me. If they can fix those two things and let me pick only the channels I want to watch I will be sold!

  3. Cable is the greatest swindle of the modern age–the idea that you PAY for ad-supported programming. But then, 50 years ago, they wouldn’t have believed anyone would pay for water in a bottle.

    1. You said it Bubbles! And that’s the reason I don’t have cable TV. I have an HD antenna (a one-time $30 cost) and a Netflix subscription that I use via an AppleTV. If a live sporting event isn’t on one of the networks, I’ll watch it at a sports bar (which is a more social experience anyway). The cable companies won’t give customers what they want unless those companies begin to lose revenue. That will only happen through cord cutting. Kudos to HBO, by the way, for offering HBO Now. I will definitely be signing up for that.

    2. No, you’re paying for the infrastructure (actual cable in the ground, hence the name “cable”) which brings far more programming to your house without the static of a roof-mounted antenna. This has changed with HD TV as far as the static goes, but an HD antenna does not get you hundreds of channels of programming.

      The ads pay for the channel’s costs in acquiring and broadcasting the content, not for the delivery to your home.

  4. Cut cord in 2012. Haven’t looked back since. Once it’s gone, you find you not only save money, but you save time. You read more, learn more, etc. Without the constant senseless chattering of mostly commercials, it’s far quieter in your home as well.

    I have extremely fast cable though, 300Mb/s down. 20 up. So If I want to see Game of Thrones or The Blacklist, streaming is very fast for me. I easily steam 4K video from Youtube.

    And as far as streaming vs. downloading from iTunes, you download a bit and in seconds, I mean seconds, iTunes says the movie is available to be watched.

  5. The problem is that many (or most) customers get Internet service over that same cable connection into the home. So “cutting the cord” is not actually cutting anything.

    The cable company creates a bundling of cable TV and Internet service, and prices the bundle so that the total cost of only cable-based Internet service plus separate Internet-based content services is not more economical for most customers. So, typical customers keep that more convenient bundle of cable TV and Internet services from the cable company, even it’s possible to do something more complicated.

    The true “revolution” does not happen until typical customers have easy and economical access to broadband Internet that is separate from cable TV service.

    1. This is the reality, and despite demondeathkill’s snobbism, there is plenty of decent stuff to watch on even the more bare bones cable subscriptions. I have bundled cable [Comcast] in one house, and DirecTV in the other, with an internet-only cable in the other, because Uverse sucks so bad as an internet service. Now, right there is probably more money than most want to spend, but it suits me. I like the DirecTV interface [and i have had them all], and the sports and entertainment, and the excellent picture quality. I am able to run it on, and keep the kids and guests on, the slower internet service that literally comes for free from ATT. That’s the network that is meshed all over the house. The separate cable internet is reserved for the business we do from home. I have two AppleTVs in each house, and an Amazon FireTV in one. As another poster wrote, I cannot get everything I want from just one box anyway, so the whole notion of cutting the cable cord doesn’t really mean very much. And as ken1w writes, cutting the cord is often not even very economical for many, precisely because cable bundles are often very attractive. And even if they expire, I have had the experience that calling customer experience is usually a short effort to get the latest promotion applied to one’s bill. All this stuff still requires too much work, but at some level, that’s the nature of choice.

  6. I am slowly building my channel list from Podcasts, iTunes U and Youtube channels.

    Eventually I may have all that “I” am interested in, not the 3rd grade crap the networks keep pushing down the TV pipe.

  7. People who say “TV is such a waste” are full of it (except for Chopped Liver, of course).

    We are living through a Golden Age of sorts, with big stars doing true quality dramas, as good as most anything in the movies. Game of Thrones, Matthew McConaughey in True Detective, Walking Dead, Banshee, House of Cards, Mad Men, etc. etc.

    Even the networks have discovered quality. American Crime, Empire, How to Get Away With Murder…

    If there’s a crappy show, it’s easier than ever to skip over it, delete it, or just turn the channel…

  8. Are you ready to cut cable? √ Done that!
    I’ve yet to find a replacement that covers all the TV bases while costing less <– There are ways. One of many: Veetle.
    No combination of devices is as easy as just changing the channel, or choosing shows saved on the DVR. <– That's true. But being a technogeek willing to climb the learning curves does provide remarkable rewards on a mere computerized device, such as any Mac.

  9. Cannot wait to cut the cord, but these facts remain:
    1- If I stream on HBO Go, Showtime Anytime or xFinity on Demand the data does not count toward my Comcast data cap. Stream HBO’s new service and it does.
    2- The new bundled services are still bundles services. I want a la carte.
    3- My only interest in ESPN is pay per view- not subscribing . I watch a handful of college football games and 2 or 3 bowl games per year.
    4- I would like streaming from an international broadcaster other than Murdoch affiliated Sky. The US feed of CNN International is bullshit and BBC World News is kind of marginal. Surely someone can give a decent worldwide news channel without nationalistic bias, cheerleading or waste my time with Soccer coverage (BBC World News, for example). Like most Americans, I could’t give a shit for the world’s most boring game (Soccer) or the second (Cricket).
    5- I can record HD from my Cable Box to my Mac. That is not possible with Roku or Apple TV type devices.

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