I read an article this morning about how a lot of people are cutting off their cable TV subscriptions and watching stuff online. Netflix and Hulu are providing people with the opportunity to be entertained without spending $100+ a month for hundreds of channels that may or may not offer anything interesting. Actually, I'm not that surprised about this development.
Cable and satellite TV have been a rip off for many years. There was a time when TV was free. Then it got to the point at which it became very difficult to watch TV unless you had cable. My parents got cable for the first time back in 1980, when we moved to a rural county in Virginia. It was either pay for cable or forego TV. And my parents liked TV too much to forego it, so they bought a cable subscription. I grew up on cable and the superior programming it offered. I watched HBO, USA, MTV, TBS (then called the Superstation), WGN from Chicago, Nickelodeon, CNN... etc. In the 80s, it really was better.
But then sometime in the 1990s, TV started to become very generic. Even the superstations, which offered people the chance to view "local" television from around the country became nationalized. Cable stations played a lot of re-runs and reality TV. Cable companies offered dozens of channels, but very few that offered anything worth watching. HBO went from consisting of one channel to consisting of about five, yet the programming didn't seem that new or different. Meanwhile, cable rates were going up.
Then, the world got hit by the Internet. Suddenly we could interact with people around the world. We could publish our thoughts on blog posts, meet people in chat rooms and messageboards, listen to music, and yes, watch TV. So now the cable companies are surprised that Americans are turning to the Internet to be entertained? Frankly, I'm surprised this phenomenon didn't happen five years ago.
My husband and I depend on Netflix and Hulu for our TV. This isn't actually how we wanted it. We live in a rural area and cable television service doesn't come out this way. We could have gotten satellite service, but the local company wanted us to sign up for five years. We knew we wouldn't be living in this area for five years, so we declined. And now we're cable TV free, probably for the first time in many years.
To be honest, I don't miss TV that much. Sometimes it would be nice to watch the local news or catch an episode of Judge Judy. But a lot of the shows I like to watch are on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, or the show's official Web site within a day of broadcast. There's no reason for me to spend $100+ on TV.
Once we move, maybe we'll go back to subscribing to TV. But it's nice to know we can live without it. For a long time, I didn't think that was possible.