I got my last RCN cable bill in the mail the other day, and due to the expiration of a promotion I apparently had, the combination of television and internet service cost me approximately $115. That's a lot of money for someone without an income, and it finally got me to the point where I actually researched whether I really need cable TV at all.
I've been thinking about that quite a bit recently, especially since I've had more time to watch TV and can never seem to find anything to watch (other than Law & Order)
Some due diligence on what cable would cost for my new apartment in Manhattan.
A combination package of cable internet and television from Time Warner Cable would cost $112.95 per month before taxes and fees.
That seems like quite a bit, although I would get 100 HD channels, which I guess would be nice. Of course then I actually looked up the list of these HD channels and found quite a few that I would never watch:
Crime and Investigation HD?
Lifetime Movie Network HD?
Toon Disney HD?
Do I really need to pay for all of that garbage??? (Apologies to the country's 3 C&I HD channel fans)
So...it's clear that I don't want to pay $1355 a year for cable tv and internet, so I thought about what I could do instead.
First, I would need internet access. I'm sure I could hope that someone would leave their Wi-Fi network unlocked, but that seems a little cheap, even for me. So let's assume that I need to get internet access and that I get the high speed cable modem from Time Warner without a crazy sports analogy upgrade to a package deal.
High speed by itself would run me $34.95/month, or $419/year.
That would get me my internet, and with it, just about all my favorite shows. I went through the list in my head, and they all seem to be online somewhere like Hulu.
Arrested Development (still good, even if it's only reruns)
Then, with some of the money I would be saving, I could get a Netflix subscription for $16.99/month that would let me have 3 DVDs out at any time. Further, Netflix also has a library of 12,000 titles that you can stream over the internet to your computer for free. For an extra $100, you can buy a Roku box that will let you stream to your TV.
That certainly sounds appealing, and would give me much more to watch than the action movies AMC repeats over and over (which don't get me wrong, I still love)
With Netflix and the Roku hardware, it would cost $723/year, which would save me over $630 from getting cable TV services. Plus, it would allow me to explore Netflix's deep catalog and become a total movie snob (sorry, FILM snob), which is something we should all aspire to become.
Of course, I'd have to make some sacrifices.
I'd miss out on Flight of the Conchords, but I was going to miss that anyway since I won't buy HBO. I will miss Law and Order, Seinfeld reruns, and the like, but really, do I genuinely NEED to see all those episodes for a 13th and 14th time???
I'll also miss out on ESPN, but since I always watch that at the gym (and live on ESPN.com), I should be ok there. The loss of live sports broadcasts could actually be quite difficult...but much like here in Chicago, I don't really care that much about non-Philadelphia teams. Would I really want to watch the terrible New York/New Jersey teams? Definitely not. The exception would be the NFL...but I know NBC started streaming their national game of the week...and I'll probably be in bars to watch the Eagles anyway.
All in all, it's looking pretty bleak for the cable company in terms of me buying television service.
Of course there's also a third option. Turn off the stupid TV and read a book...or, you know...talk to people...