Why we still need cable TV

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Most people in North America have cable TV. In Canada, Rogers and Shaw (in Western Canada) are the dominant cable companies, with Bell in the mix as well. In the U.S. there is Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others. Most people pay over $100 per month on cable TV and in Canada it’s even more. In addition, the customer service these companies offer is often frustrating and unacceptable. Still, people pay the cable bill month in and month out. So why do we do it? This question is even more pertinent now that there are alternatives such as Netflix and internet options like Hulu (in the U.S.) or just downloading off the net.

The main reason are the channels that we are used to but do not realize we care about. Channels like CNN and other news channels, as well as, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and others that we wouldn’t bother to steam or download online but we find ourselves watching consistently on TV. With a group of alternatives, we could get most of what pay the cable companies for every month at a fraction of the cost. You could start with an HD antenna for some local channels ($50-$100), get a Netflix subscription ($8 in Canada) or a Hulu subscription in the U.S., an NBA League Pass (or whatever league you follow) and then just download shows from iTunes or somewhere for any shows you follow. This would be a big percentage of the programming you would watch in any given month. However, you wouldn’t get the channels that we all watch but that are not as important as HBO or Showtime. It’s also a bit annoying to split all the TV watching into 4-5 alternatives.

If any company figures out a way to have all local channels live, all programming options including shows, live sports, movies and programming like CNN, Discovery Channel and others, then you would see the masses ditch the large cable companies. People don’t like these cable companies and would love to leave except that at the moment there is nowhere to go. Hopefully this will change over the next few years. There is definitely the technology in place to make it happen and at a fraction of the cost. The main hurdle will be government regulation (especially in Canada). Hopefully the government will let technology enrich our lives from this stand point. Either way, until a company comes along that can replace the cable companies we have little choice but to deal with them.