Why I Cut the Cord… and Ended Up Crawling Back

Look at your cable bill. There, there, buddy. Here. Borrow my handkerchief. Dry those eyes. I, uh… really? Vomit? Ok. Well. You clean that up yourself.

Yes, your cable bill is a trully horrific abomination that would anger the gods if there were any. But hey, someone’s got to pay for all that Lifetime programming and Toddlers and Tiaras marathons! It might as well be you!

Toddlers and Tiaras

You and me both, kid.

But wait… maybe there’s another way? You’ve heard about “cutting the cord.” Maybe you can live without cable!

You’ve heard of Netflix! And Hulu Plus! And Amazon Prime! I mean… that’s pretty much the same thing, right?

Er… sort of.

Cutting the Cord. Well. Some of it, anyway.

First of all, you can’t really sever the cord completely because you’re going to need Internet. Right? I mean, you’re not trying to get off the grid and lead a life of quiet simplicity where you return to your natural roots, are you, weirdo?

"I feel I'm taking crazy pills!"

Off the grid? Whatever, psychopath.

You’re going to need Internet, so as much as you want to send Comcast a bag of you flaming poo, it’s probably not a reasonable option. Unless you can figure out a way to fling TCP/IP packets into the cloud (I really want to see that), you’re stuck.

But you can drop your cable. Totally. You don’t need 120 channels of shit you’re not watching.

So what do I watch now?

Well for one, you should already have Netflix. Seriously. Get with the fucking program.

Sure, the movie selection is crap, but how many times do you really need to watch Con Air on cable with commercials anyway? (For me, the answer is, “a surprising amount.”)

Con Air

A masterpiece of modern fiction.

You can binge watch Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Peep Show, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development… the list goes on and on. And it’s like 9 bucks a month.

OK, so now you’ve got Netflix. What else? Hulu Plus?

Ehhhhh. I mean. Hulu Plus is fine if you like commercials I guess. (Who doesn’t?) Though you can watch newer seasons of shows on television now from NBC. But you can already do that with Hulu. So. I’d say try it, but don’t expect great things.

Amazon Prime is another interesting option. It’s pretty affordable at 79/year. The video selection is meh (though they have Veronica Mars and Downton Abbey, so fuuuuck yeah). But you get two day shipping. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you have it and then you’re like yes i can have whatever I want in this world in 48 hours and I don’t even need to wear pants.

Come on, you didn’t think I was going to go a whole piece without a joke about not wearing pants, did you?

What do I watch this stuff on, anyway? My TV isn’t that smart. 🙁

Have no fear, reader. I’ve been such a spectacular nerd my whole life so you don’t have to. Also because I can’t help myself.

If you have a gaming system like an Xbox 360/1 or Playstation 3/4, you should already have apps to watch all of these services. If not, you’ll have to buy Internet TV “appliance.”

The most popular of these is the Roku. It has apps for all of these, plus HBO Go if you can convince someone to give you their password. Not that I advocate piracy. I’m not a monster, or at least that’s what my therapist keeps telling me.

You can also check out the Chromecast or Apple TV. Chromecast is pretty cheap and you get YouTube, which is awesome because you get all of the fun of watching kitten videos buffer, except on a large screen now. Goddamn that buffer bar is sexy.

YouTube Buffering

Over $400 billion market capitalization and I still gotta wait for my goddamn cat video to load.

Also, you have to use your smartphone as a remote for Chromecast which feels vaguely ridiculous.

Apple TV is great if you’re already heavily invested in the Apple World, sucking on that sweet sweet iJuice. You can watch stuff from your iTunes library, AirPlay is great… but… you’re sort of stuck in AppleLand. Amazon? Ehhhh fuck you, buddy, you don’t need Amazon. You need what we tell you you need.

For my money, I’d stick with the Roku. You can find them refurbished online for less than 50 bucks and nobody I know who has one has regretted it. Except that guy who caught his wife… well… that’s another story.

But what about live sports?

Yeah, uh. About that.

Fuck.

You could find sports streaming on the Internet. There are various websites which I won’t tell you about, but the quality is terrible and it’s fairly illegal. Not that anybody is gonna care. But. Still. The video quality is garbage and who needs that?

Your other option is going to your local pub and enjoying the game on a wide screen TV. Which is exactly what I did! I’ll just watch sports at the bar and everything else on Netflix!

It turns out that hanging out at the bar every time you wanna watch a sports event is not exactly “cost effective.” Or good for your waistline. Or your liver. But it’s a great way to work on skills like screaming at television sets in front of strangers, which is nice.

Sports Bar Screaming

At these cable prices, I can’t afford NOT to drink!

So… what’d you do?

Well there’s about 30 UConn basketball games a year. Another six football games. 16 Giants games. 38 Liverpool games. Approximately 12,000 Red Sox games.

So I did what any self-respecting adult would do.

I threw a flaming bag of poo at Comcast, and went crawling back to AT&T U-Verse. And hey, it’s not all bad. I have a marginal package with the sports channels I need and it’s about 70 bucks a month (pre-Internet).

And I still have Netflix because Netflix is fucking awesome and there’s nothing that says “well-adjusted” like spending 12 consecutive hours watching the same television show and this statement is not at all influenced by my stake as a Netflix shareholder.

Maybe you’ll do better than I did. Maybe you don’t need sports and you’re happier without cable. If so, I salute you. But me, well… I need to watch my beloved UConn Huskies, no matter how bewildering they play sometimes.

1959 UConn Logo

Are you not filled with pride?!

There are just some things I can’t live without.

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