Time to Cut Your Cable Cord
If you're among the 95 million Americans who still pay for "live television," you might want to consider these statistics.
On average, you watch four hours of live TV per day. That's not including DVR playback, which accounts for another hour. You subject yourself to ten hours of commercials a week. The typical child in your household will witness eight thousand televised murders before the end of sixth grade.
You flicker through CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC. The same breaking news loops hundreds of times before your face daily, plus the regular pageant of zombies, strippers, angry cops, and snack chips. For these sensory privileges, you pay $90 a month.
Five million Americans have already cut the cord. They are the avant-garde, the growing legion of viewers who prefer their programming à la carte instead of prix fixe.
Being a cable cutter doesn't mean you can't watch your favorite shows. Through iTunes, you can still enjoy Mad Men in high definition for $35 a year -- ad-free. How many high quality television shows do you consider worth paying for? Five? Buy season passes for all of them and pay $15 per month.
Most network programs you can stream online for free. During the commercial breaks, you might keep the sound on low, browse something more interesting. You can still get your news online from the tried and true propagandists. Take as much or as little of it as you like.
If anything is the Achilles heel of the cable cutter, it's sports. Big Cable has a chokehold on prime time football, basketball, and baseball. The à la carte game is strategically withheld. But this is bound to be a temporary hitch. Once enough people go "zero-TV," the leagues will have to follow. In the meantime, cable cutters have no choice but to go elsewhere for the big game.
What about HBO? While you can't purchase Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire on iTunes, you can binge-watch them on Netflix a year after their release. The Netflix DVD and streaming package ($9.99 / month), by the way, also gives you access to an infinite number of commercial-free children's programming from PBS, Disney, Sprout, and other networks.
Even after the AppleTV and Netflix plans, cutting the cable will save you $780 per year. So you can buy some good wine to go with those DVD sets. Or put the money toward your kids' college funds. Chances are they'll be going to better schools than the "live television" children.
With the ten hours a week you'd otherwise be watching commercials, you could enrich yourself -- in just one year, you'll gain over five hundred hours of life. You could learn to speak French, play piano, master the art of Zen gardening, or read all of Shakespeare's plays.
If that's not enough to motivate you to cut your cable cord, just ease back and break out the chips and dip. Time Warner is waiting.