January 11, 2012

"If You Pay For Cable, You're A Hostage Of Sports."

"Pay up for sports, or you don't get anything else you might want to watch on cable, un-live."

Aren't people who watch sports the main customers for cable TV, what with Netflix and the internet and so forth? The linked NPR article is trying to generate outrage about cable TV, but it seems to me that cable TV is obsolescent. And I say that as someone who pays $200 a month for cable TV.
Understand: ESPN is an entirely different programming animal than, say, CBS, which dominates prime time –– or A&E, or HBO, or Showtime — on cable. Those networks must create programming.

ESPN and the other sports networks are essentially just brokers. They take your subscription money, buy games and then "bring them" to you, pocketing a nice broker's fee. And because games are live, advertisers love it, because you can't fast-forward their commercials. And, hey, you only need to go to the bathroom so many times.

It's a great business model, taxing American households.
Well, our cable works with a box that lets us record while watching the show live. And we, in fact, do fast-forward through the commercials! If you don't understand how to watch live and still fast-forward commercials, you don't have the remote-control skills we do. It's not that hard. Let the live recording get a little ahead of where you're watching, so you'll be able to skip ahead. If you "catch up to live," do some more pausing/replays. That's what I do. I only watch commercials if I think they look amusing, which they are from time to time.

92 comments:

caplight45 said...

Sports requires testosterone. In short supply at NPR.

PatCA said...

Right. You just start the program about 15 minutes on, watch the recorded version, and FF through the ads. My cable keeps lowering prices b/c people are dropping it.

I would get rid of cable completely but I don't see that all TV programs are on Hulu with any regularity that would allow me to pick and choose a show at the moment, or to tape a series. Or maybe I just don't understand the technology. It seems like Roku and a super duper antenna would be best, but I would need a techie to come in and set it up. Feh. It's only TV.

Thomas said...

You can't watch sports on a delay. I mean you can, but then your hopes and wants can't possibly affect the outcome. What's the point of that?

toby said...

Any network that covers sports is a "broker." Whether it's NBC carrying the Olympics, Fox w/ baseball/football or ESPN. They all bid for the rights. In it's early years, before they could afford rights to major sports, ESPN did some original programming; it was horrible. They realized there was a market for more professional/college sports and started ponying up the $ to get the rights, the same as the major networks.

ESPN still does some original programming, their 100 greatest stars of the 20th Century was superb, as is the 30/30 Series. Extreme Sports not so much so.

NPR never lets the facts get in the way of their template. Private broadcast bad/ state sponsored broadcast good.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The inability to pick the channels that we want to have on our 'line up' of channels from Dish and being forced to have all these sports channels is one of our biggest annoyances.

With very few exceptions, we don't watch sports. However, to get the package of channels we DO want to watch we have at least 15 or MORE ESPN and other sports channels to scroll through.

In order to get ALL the channels we want, the satellite company has cleverly spread them out among the choices so we have to purchase the most expensive package.

Fortunately, we can program a menu of channels so we can skip over them, but...why oh why do we even have to do that. (actually I know why.....$$$$$$) It is an annoyance.

Also, thankfully, we have a DVR and do like Althouse: pause the show for about 15 minutes and skip the advertisements or better yet, record it the night before and watch something else while it is recording. Then watch the show at our leisure.

We should be allowed to pick and pay for only the services we are using.

edutcher said...

We have AT&T and never watch sports. The Blonde likes all the sci fi and fantasy stuff and I watch Fox and the history and Western channels.

If we could dump sports, we'd probably do it.

toby said...

Of course Althouse, you do know you can get a dvr on your own, you don't need the cable companies. I believe in the Peoples Republic of Madison you only have one cable company. That's another problem. Go w/ satellite, much better.

Jim Gust said...

$200 per month? Does that include broadband internet? Because I thought I was getting ripped off at $70 per month, of which about $20 seems to be taxes.

Beta Rube said...

Can't the arguement be made that the sports junkies (like me) are bringing down the cost of cable for everyone else by subscribing to the more high end packages?

I will never watch HGTV, Lifetime, and a humdred other channels that I still pay for in order to get the sports and news that I value.

Lem said...

I only watch commercials if I think they look amusing, which they are from time to time.

Superbowl commercials.. I like to play the critic.

Ann Althouse said...

"$200 per month? Does that include broadband internet? Because I thought I was getting ripped off at $70 per month, of which about $20 seems to be taxes."

It's $240 a month including the hard-line telephone and the internet. I don't really know how much of it is the TV.

Curious George said...

The bigger rip off by content providers is the bundling of other channels with more popular ones, forcing cable companies, and therefore consumers, to pay for a lot of stuff they don't want.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Go w/ satellite, much better

You still get stuck with all the sports channels whether you want them or not.

The packages are set so that if you want to watch Fox Business or Bloomberg, for example, you MUST also subscribe to multiple packages and get all the retarded channels you don't want to watch will never ever watch.

Can't the argument be made that the sports junkies (like me) are bringing down the cost of cable for everyone else by subscribing to the more high end packages?


You might also make the case that by forcing us to subscribe to the sports channels we are bringing down YOUR cost of subscribing.

Hunter said...

The NPR article fails to discuss WHY the cable companies tax all of their customers for the privilege of not watching ESPN.

The WHY is a consequence of
a) regulations which force the cable companies to negotiate for the privilege of delivering the same network signals which are broadcast free over the air.
b) the fact that major networks own a large number of their local affiliates, including the ones is some key markets.

As a result, ABC gives Comcast a choice - either you make ESPN part of the "expanded basic" package that most cable customers subscribe to, and pay us for it, or else you cannot carry ABC in a large part of the country.

People bitch at the cable companies for not offering channels a-la-carte, but they really have no choice.

traditionalguy said...

It's the NFL Redzone that is addicting innocent American males.

X said...

huh. and here I thought I was being taxed for Lifetime, Bravo, Gala, MSNBC, and OWN to get ESPN, Golf Channel, and Speed. I know I'm still being taxed for NPR.

Ann Althouse said...

"Of course Althouse, you do know you can get a dvr on your own, you don't need the cable companies. I believe in the Peoples Republic of Madison you only have one cable company. That's another problem. Go w/ satellite, much better."

1. I have had a TiVo since the earliest days of TiVo, but I use the box that came with the cable service because it happens to have larger storage capacity. I like the TiVo interface better, but what the hell.

2. If you're "on your own," what's coming in? I don't know why satellite would be better for me. I don't really watch much TV. I mainly use the internet, but we also like sports and news.... maybe a reality show or two.

3. I've had more than one cable service in Madison. I had Charter for a long time, and now I have AT&T U-Verse.

DaveW said...

Dish Network is costing us about $90 per month, and we pay $40 for cable broadband and $16.50 for VOIP telephone (Vonage). I've shopped it hard several years in a row to get it as low as possible. The Dish package comes with 250 channels including NFLN and a ton of ESPNs.

It's interesting that NPR doesn't understand even something as basic as how flyover country uses their TV.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It's $240 a month including the hard-line telephone and the internet. I don't really know how much of it is the TV.

That's about what we pay for DSL internet connection, land line phone and satellite. It was bundled for a while, but for tax/business purposes we had to unbundle the group and pay a bit more.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, I don't watch TV news much. It's so slow. And I already know all the news by the time they get to it.

I find the arguments people get into boring.

Curious George said...

"toby said...
Of course Althouse, you do know you can get a dvr on your own, you don't need the cable companies. I believe in the Peoples Republic of Madison you only have one cable company. That's another problem. Go w/ satellite, much better."

Milwauke only has one canle company...I think that's the norm most places actually.

I have DirecTV...better maybe. Except during a hard rain or heavy snow. Then it sucks.

Lem said...

Alhouse pays so much because she's go all those Latin Channels.

Scott M said...

ESPN and the other sports networks are essentially just brokers.

Wouldn't the corollary of this be that ESPN essentially provides no content of it's own? I'm not that dog hunts.

I, too, pay the $200 cable bill, but that's basic/expanded/premiums with a land line and the highest highspeed internet Charter offers. We've tried the alternatives over the years, but we've always gone back. It's simply more reliable and the quality is perfectly fine.

MayBee said...

You can't watch sports on a delay. I mean you can, but then your hopes and wants can't possibly affect the outcome. What's the point of that?

Love this.

JMS said...

Sorry, NPR, if it is voluntary, it isn't a tax.

The only broadcaster running on the involuntary taxation business model is you.

DADvocate said...

ESPN still does some original programming,...

Sure do. They did a great bit on Condredge Holloway, the first black quarterback in the SEC, who played at Tennessee while I was a student there. Met him once.

The article sounds like pure bullshit. Do they have any idea what ESPN has to do to broadcast a game. Transport and set up all the cameras, sound equipment, lights if needed, mobile studio (where we get all those instant replays and great angles on the play, etc. Every once in a while I'll see their trucks running down the interstate from one game to the next.

ESPN is worth every penny.

Lifetime is the most worthless station on cable. Plot: man bad, woman good, man killed or sent to jail.

Henry said...

ESPN and the other sports networks are essentially just brokers. They take your subscription money, buy games and then "bring them" to you, pocketing a nice broker's fee. And because games are live, advertisers love it, because you can't fast-forward their commercials. And, hey, you only need to go to the bathroom so many times.

This is a headbangingly stupid analysis. It's the entertainment version of Marx's labour theory of value: the players labour on the field; the "broker" (ESPN) exploits them.

The flaw to Mr. Deford's logic is highlighted by his use of scare quotes in the phrase '"bring them" to you'. Guess what. ESPN doesn't "bring them". ESPN really BRINGS THEM. No broker means no show, moron. If you want to watch your favorite team without being exploited by the broker that nefariously transmits the live event, just wrap some old speaker wire around your tinfoil hat and point your pate at the stadium. I'm sure you'll pick up something.

The reason advertisers like live sports is because people like to watch live sports. And the reason people like to watch live sports is because live sports still have the capacity to surprise. The boilerplate crap generated by CBS and its ilk only highlights how much better the sports programming is.

p.s. I don't pay a dime for cable TV. I get my live sports from the brokers who broadcast on radio.

p.p.s. I probably will join some friends to watch the Broncos-Patriots game on Saturday.

p.p.p.s. I'll leave it to other commenters to point out the irony of an NPR hack complaining about Americans being forced to subsidize something they don't need.

Scott M said...

Expanded cable along with the premiums is much like radio. Most of the time, I'm not looking for something I've scheduled myself to watch (Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones aside...yes, Hoosier, "nerd"). I'm just poking through looking for something interesting.

We do have a Netflix subscription (avoid Hulu like the black death it is) but that's mainly because of the back catalogs of TV comedies, not for the movies.

ironrailsironweights said...

ESPN now collects an average of $4.69 for every cable home –– four times more than any other network.

Well, heck, that's probably because ESPN has four times the viewership of any other cable network.

Gender is another factor. TV programming today is rapidly becoming your basic fish taco festival. Advertisers who want to target men love sports because that's just about the only sort of programming with a predominately male audience.

Peter

Ann Althouse said...

I've got some premium package, not that I use it much.

I used to watch a lot of HBO, but I'm not following any HBO shows now.

As I get older, I find myself more bored by watching actors act. I prefer to read because it's faster and if anybody's showing off, they're doing it with words.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"$200 per month? Does that include broadband internet? Because I thought I was getting ripped off at $70 per month, of which about $20 seems to be taxes."

It's $240 a month including the hard-line telephone and the internet. I don't really know how much of it is the TV.


Check out your bill. You're probably getting all the "premium" (HBO, etc. (I'm sure Meade likes the Westerns channel)) channels. They really jack up the bottom line.

Lem said...

Alhouse pays so much because she's go all those Latin Channels.

Hah!

Veni Vidi Vici.

PS I don't think U-Verse counts as a cable outfit. We have Time Warner for cable here, but there's also U-Verse.

DaveW said...

I'd analogize what ESPN does to CNN or FoxNews.

We watch almost no commercials at all anymore. I run even live football games on about a 2-5 minute delay. And the wife stores up programming about 45 minutes at a time. We just zip past the ads.

X said...

Yes Frank Deford, ESPN is a parasite on sports, living off the host, unlike a sportshack like yourself. But making HBO subscribers who don't care about sports pay for Real Sports is cool since you've worked for them.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones aside...yes, Hoosier, "nerd"). I'm just poking through looking for something interesting.

Ditto. (Yes. I know ...nerdette) Plus I like the SciFi channel and because we are forced to pay for every damned channel on earth to get what we want, we have a very good selection of Sirius and other music stations. I generally have those on during the day and can choose from many different music genres. This alone is worth the price of the satellite.

prairie wind said...

You don't watch much TV but you pay $200/month for cable? Cut the cord and go TV-less. It's really a lovely way to live.

Except during football season, and then i think it is a stupid way to live.

George said...

The point is that we should be able to have a la carte Cable choices that don't require me, for example, to buy any of the sports channels.

LarsPorsena said...

ESPNHD is great. With an HD flat screen at home and that thingamabob that hangs over the field, it lets you feel like your in the huddle. Better than tickets at the 50-yard line.

MayBee said...

When I lived in Tokyo I had two different cable providers- well, one cable and one satellite- because one had more English language channels but the other had Nickelodeon. Then, I had to pay the NHK national television channel fee when the little man came to collect the tax every month. It was just before I left that I found out most Japanese people hide in their house and don't answer the door when the NHK man came around.

American television is the best in the world and I don't have a lot of patience for people complaining about it. It's entirely optional.

Shawn L. said...

We can drop the NPR snarking, as the author of the piece is Frank Deford, who has a long, distinguished career as a sports journalist. This is not an act of looking down on sports.

But it is accurate that sports is one of the prime movers of higher cable rates. Sports channels, especially ESPN, relies on all cable households coughing up money. They don't want to become "premium" channels like HBO. Various sports channels have fought tooth and nail to avoid being optional add-ons over the years.

kimsch said...

We had DirecTv for TV, Comcast for broadband, and SBC(now AT&T - again) for phone but needed to consolidate so we ended up with Comcast Triple Play. U-Verse would have given us DSL and as we are at the 18,000 foot mark from the TCO, DSL would have been a huge downgrade. Hubby's a network engineer working from home and I run a small business and a downgrade in speed was not an option.

As to channels, I can't get Fox Movie Channel and Hallmark without purchasing a sports package, so I don't get those channels. We just don't watch sports in our household.

We get Starz with our package and have HBO and Showtime. Spartacus (Jan 27 yay \o/), Borgias, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, the new House of Lies, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Mad Men...

I also like shows on HGTV and Food Network.

MayBee said...

Various sports channels have fought tooth and nail to avoid being optional add-ons over the years.

Didn't Senator John Kerry bully the NFL into carrying a Patriots game on a non-premium channel instead of the NFL channel, as they'd planned?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

They don't want to become "premium" channels like HBO. Various sports channels have fought tooth and nail to avoid being optional add-ons over the years.

Because....?

Because they know that most people would not pay for their channels and therefore they have to extort the difference from those of us who never or rarely look at their channels to make up the difference.

EMD said...

Megashares is about 6 bucks a month.

Hook a Mac mini up to your HD TV, get a wireless keyboard and remote/mouse, and away you go.

Game of Thrones awaits.

EMD said...

I actually watch most of my TV on my 27" iMac in the office.

Just finished up the first season of "Life's Too Short" which is on the beeb in England.

Scott M said...

Game of Thrones, Walking Dead

This spring is going to rock.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's rich coming from a station that everyone is forced to pay for by the government.

Nathan Alexander said...

ESPN is not just a broker.

They add all sorts of value, from the announcers, to the 1st down line projected on the field, to the time/down/score graphic, to the news scroll at the bottom.

I recently got to see what they do for a broadcast...it is staggering at the excellence, professionalism, and high technology on display...the number of people they have just meta-tagging footage for easier retrieval later is staggering. They stay on top of staggeringly vast databases, too, to provide facts on the heretofore unknown player that just made a big play.

And people are willing to pay for it.

The problem with "a la carte" is that no one is willing to pay what the prices would be if they were "a la carte". If someone was really willing to pay a la carte prices, there would be a business offering it.

The problem is, because people would, in fact, just choose their most favorite channels, a la carte for just your handful of favorite shows would end up being 10% to 20% more than what you are currently paying for the 4-5 channels you want + the 30 you don't want.

By bundling channels, the cable providers simplify their supply chain and are better able to predict expenses and income, and thus pass the savings on to you.

But if you really had a la carte as an option, all that predictive value goes out the window, and you pay the cable company's risk for them.

Wishing for a la carte pricing is truly one of those times you should be careful what you wish for, because you would not like actually getting it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I love cable. I get to decide whether to buy it or not. I have decided not to buy it, and nobody comes around with bills for it saying that I have to pay for it anyway.

Unlike some other media outfits one could name.

Kit said...

Traditional "cable" tv I think, is on it's way out. With online streaming, tablets, and now, smart tv's on the horizon, the model is becoming outdated.

We're in Madison and pay about $110/month for DISH, $25/month for Uverse and just dropped our landline. I'd say our DISH is primarily for sports - ESPN, Fox, FoxSports, CBS and Big Ten Network. We don't do the dvr, though I'm trying to move over one to let's you watch on your tablet or smartphone. As for the idea of delaying and speeding through commercials - I'd rather watch as live as I can - as I'm probably multitasking, anyway, and easily ignore commercials.

bgates said...

Pay up for sports, or you don't get anything else you might want to watch on cable

Submit to having enough wealth extorted from you to fund an organization that exists to celebrate political positions you abhor and turn its functionaries into millionaires , or we'll tell your children you killed Elmo.

wv 'wingene': recessive in Frank Deford.

knox said...

Or maybe I just don't understand the technology.

PatCA, it's not you. TV is at a very weird place right now. People are wanting and expecting more choice, because it's available across so many other entertainment venues.

But all the different devices and providers really haven't synched up yet. It *is* very complicated to figure out how to get what you want without paying exhorbitantly for it.

For example, we had to get a new TV recently. I wanted to get one which would access Amazon Prime's free streaming movies app. Well, to do that, we were going to have to buy a "smart" TV which was going to be well over a thousand bucks.

I think it's a matter of waiting for a couple years and the best solution will emerge. Or a decent one, at least.

PatCA said...

"You can't watch sports on a delay. I mean you can, but then your hopes and wants can't possibly affect the outcome."

But you forget about the time/space continuum and how cable bypasses this. The teams don't know you are watching it on delay!

Peter said...

Watching commericals is only necessary if you insist on watching something live- as you might wish to if the show is sports or news.

I remain surprised that ad-supported television survives. Yet, it does. Perhaps many TV viewers are just to lazy to record stuff to watch later?

Scott M said...

But you forget about the time/space continuum and how cable bypasses this. The teams don't know you are watching it on delay!

Quite. The good luck harmonics that emanate from that Rams jersey you haven't washed since 2000 exist on a quantum level so the delay won't affect their affecting the outcome.

Bruce Hayden said...

Our big problem with the local cable company (ComCast) here in the Colorado ski country is that they periodically drop the channels that show ski racing. My brother, whose life revolves around the sport (despite approaching 60), wants to watch all the big races. And, they were dropped not too far before this season. For the 2nd or 3rd time. That is the one sport that we would pay for. (We do have a couple of channels that show extreme skiing, and that is a nice diversion).

I just signed up again for cable in Phoenix, and it is costing just under $100 a month for TV (includes HBO), Internet, and a "land line" phone. But, then, last week, we were without all of them for a couple days, after Comcast disconnected the wrong subscriber. Their "land line" is now over the Internet, and when you lose the Internet, you lose phone service. They did provide a battery for the cable modem, but that didn't help when the cable was accidentally (and, indeed, the battery still had full charge when service was reestablished). But, the "land line" is only for emergencies anyway, and, indeed, I spend significantly more on my iPhone with ATT than I do for cable, Internet, and phone with Comcast (but, I can get to the Internet through my phone, so it works out).

Sigivald said...

My take-away is that NPR doesn't know what the word "tax" means.

The State imposes taxes, you see.

Private companies aren't "Taxing" you when they sell you things, even if they include things you'd rather not buy, yet still have to pay for in order to get the package.

(Why does anyone take NPR seriously on anything?

And especially when they talk about "taxes" on goods consumers don't want... like NPR itself, which actually does receive tax money*.

* Which they seem to simultaneosly claim is basically zero when people complain about it, and Vitally Important To Public Radio when someone tries to remove it. I guess they just hope nobody notices they're trying to have it both ways?)

Chip S. said...

I hate how I'm forced to pay for shit like Lifetime and HGTV in order to watch ESPN.

George said...

"The problem with "a la carte" is that no one is willing to pay what the prices would be if they were "a la carte". If someone was really willing to pay a la carte prices, there would be a business offering it."

What a load of confused nonsense. There is no business offering it because they are monopolies that have determined the current, uncompetitive situation enables them to extract rents. It is an absolutely absurd proposition to argue that the average consumer cable bill would go up if allowed to select the five to ten channels most people are interested in as opposed to being forced to pay for all of them.

Revenant said...

I don't pay for cable; haven't had TV in over a year.

I prefer to just buy or rent the DVD collections of good shows.

Kurt K said...

I wonder if the $4.69 price applies to just ESPN or is it divided among the various ESPN channels (ESPN2, ESPN news, ESPNU, and ESPN classic.)

Scott M said...

I don't pay for cable; haven't had TV in over a year.

Back in the radio days, the first thing I would do when getting into a new market was try and find a guy that worked for the local cable monopoly. A few CD's and concert tickets later, full expanded plus premiums for zero a month. Very affordable.

Scott M said...

I wonder if the $4.69 price applies to just ESPN or is it divided among the various ESPN channels (ESPN2, ESPN news, ESPNU, and ESPN classic.)

You forgot The Ocho.

fleetusa said...

Funny you should mention this way of watching live and recording to avoid commercials. It was precisely the method I thought of to use this past weekend on a few football games. thanks for the confirmation that it works well.

Rusty said...

It's $240 a month including the hard-line telephone and the internet. I don't really know how much of it is the TV.



Isn't competition great,Ann?

Oh. wait.

Scott M said...

Isn't competition great,Ann?

Augusta, GA was the only town I ever lived with two competing cable companies, Charter and Knology. Rock bottom prices. Rock. Bottom.

EMD said...

For example, we had to get a new TV recently. I wanted to get one which would access Amazon Prime's free streaming movies app. Well, to do that, we were going to have to buy a "smart" TV which was going to be well over a thousand bucks.

See here

You can use a Roku box (which costs about $99)

EMD said...

It's $240 a month including the hard-line telephone and the internet. I don't really know how much of it is the TV.

You should call and complain. They will knock the prices down.

Right now, we have Direct TV with 2 HD boxes, 2 regular boxes, a DVR (that you can use in multiple rooms) for about $80/mo.

I can only get broadband from the idiots at Insight (Road Runner) for around $50/mo.

Landline phone (which I'd love to ditch) is about $26/mo.

That's about $150/mo. Much less cost for the same thing you're getting in Madison.

Henry said...

@Rev -- Same here. Don't own a TV.

I do pay for broadband and very occasionally will watch a DVD. Kids watch some stuff on Hulu and wife uses Netflix.

Althouse should do a post/poll on which of her readers watches television.

Wally Kalbacken said...

And, hey, you only need to go to the bathroom so many times.

Serious football fans eat a low fiber diet and use the
motorman's friend
.

Brennan said...

Time shifting has changed my sports viewing habits. NBA games are over in 1 hour. NFL games are over in 90 minutes.

If it takes longer than that it because the replay button was exercised on all the great and terrible plays.

Thorley Winston said...

We get Starz with our package and have HBO and Showtime. Spartacus (Jan 27 yay \o/), Borgias, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, the new House of Lies, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Mad Men...
I’d also add Homeland, Breaking Bad, TrueBlood, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Archer, Leverage, and Burn Notice to the list.

Seriously, all of the good stuff today seems to be on cable. Looking at my list of shows that I watch during the year, my only network shows are the Big Bang Theory, Fringe, Nikita and Once Upon a Time. Although, I do have some high hopes for “Alcatraz” and recorded (but haven’t yet watched) the premier of “The Firm” from this weekend.

Brennan said...

Perhaps many TV viewers are just to lazy to record stuff to watch later?

I constantly have to show my parents how to tune into the HD versions of the channels they watch.

I would suspect a lot of consumers do not know how to use their televisions to watch the HD broadcast signal.

Even sports bars with a bazillion HD TVs hanging on the wall have them tuned to the standard definition sports broadcast.

Scott M said...

Even sports bars with a bazillion HD TVs hanging on the wall have them tuned to the standard definition sports broadcast.

If I'm going to pay for their overpriced food and negligible ambiance, only to be treated to standard res sports fare, I believe cruel and unusual punishment should be used.

Thorley Winston said...

Ditto. (Yes. I know ...nerdette) Plus I like the SciFi channel
I used to as well but since the Stargate and Battlestar franchises ended, the only other original science fiction content that I’ve seen is Sanctuary (which looks like it’s ending). I haven’t watched Alphas, Eureka, Warehouse 13 or Haven yet – are they any good?

Quaestor said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
... And I say that as someone who pays $200 a month for cable TV.

How do you find time to watch that much television? Please say that $200/month includes broadband and VoIP telephony.

Jose_K said...

Before cable you had :the game of the week and monday night baseball, the playoff and the world series. Players made 200k a year .
Boxing: two Ali fights a year.
The came the cable and : baseball every day , players making good money. But for the prepostrous blackout, all the baseball you can watchBoxing but for the pay per view. Leonard, Duran, Hagler Benitez.
For sure it wil be perfect without the unbereable fixation with the evil empires of ESPN. Do they really think taht the Gd Yankees and BoS.. rivalry can match Yankees Dodgers or Yankees Giants?
A la carte can be done easily but MTV and ESPN pay for Bravo, Discovery and all those channels nobody under 70 watch

John Lynch said...

Or you only buy internet and watch Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

If you don't care about sports there are alternatives. My upstairs TV doesn't even have cable because I didn't want to put it on the wall with the cable jack. It's hooked up to a PC with a wireless card. Pretty convenient.

I miss nothing about cable TV. DVRs are a stopgap. On demand programming is here and the only real obstacle is legal rather than technical.

Oh, and if you DO want sports there's ESPN3. Online live sports.

So... why have cable TV at all? I only have it because my wife likes it. Not worth arguing about.

kimsch said...

Eureka will be ending this year, but it's good anyway. So are Warehouse 13 and Haven. Alphas was pretty good the first season, I'm looking forward to the second.

How could I have forgotten Leverage, True Blood, Justified, and Burn Notice? I'd add Psych and Doctor Who to that as well.

There's a new period piece coming up on Starz this spring - Magic City. 60's Miami. Looks good. So does Copper coming to BBCA this summer. I watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix Instant this weekend and started the PBS Second last night.

When I was a kid in the Chicago market we had broadcast channels 2,5,7,9,11,26,32&44. My husband, in Northern California, had only 3 or 4 channels. Look at what we have available now.

wv: mitivato

dispatches said...

George wrote:

"There is no business offering it [la-carte],because they are monopolies that have determined the current, uncompetitive situation enables them to extract rents."

How do you know? Has such an economic analysis been done? Does such analysis correctly measure all appropriate risk factors?

Determining whether a company, let alone a product line, earns economic rents is an extremely difficult empirical exercise. Yet people as so confident that they KNOW such rents are being earned.

BarryD said...

"Taxing" American households?

Uh, we don't have cable. We once did, but now we choose not to pay the "tax."

Sometimes I miss a sporting event. That's life. I have found many other things to do, and most of them don't leave me fat and hung over like being an addicted TV sports fan.

You don't have to watch any games. You choose to get cable. Nobody needs it. Life is full of better things to do, and the occasional need for vegging out in front of a movie can be satisfied by Netflix streaming.

A tax is something you can be imprisoned for refusing to pay, and you are forced to pay whether or not you consider the services provided to be worth it -- or whether or not you use them at all -- and even when you find some of these "services" to be morally unconscionable, which tends to be true of people all over the political spectrum.

Calling ESPN's revenue stream, no matter how high it is, a "tax", is an insult to our intelligence.

Unknown said...

http://tvlistings.aol.com/listings/wi/madison/over-the-air/53716

It's free and you can get a TiVo or other OTA DVR.

knox said...

EMD, thanks for the suggestion. I am not wanting to add any more devices, but I may end up doing that, eventually.

As for "megashare" I assume folks are uploading episodes of current TV shows? Don't know if I'm willing to do that. As far as I can tell, in order to watch current episodes of any series [legally :)] you have to pay either the cable guy or the satellite guy.

Lionheart said...

" I have had a TiVo since the earliest days of TiVo, but I use the box that came with the cable service because it happens to have larger storage capacity. I like the TiVo interface better, but what the hell."

Ann, if you still had cable instead of ATT, you could go to Weaknees.com and find Tivos with Terabytes of storage (hundreds of hours of HD). Then a cablecard is all you would need. Now when Tivo goes out of business....

Rockport Conservative said...

Because we live far from cable and DSL we have Dish Network as well as Wildblue satellite internet service. The internet service on the middle tier costs a fortune and still is not fast enough to download any movies, shows or even long you tube interludes. We are really shortchanged as we must get a lot of channels we never watch, including sports, soaps,and number of others I have no knowledge of.

EMD said...

Oh, Megashares is totally illegal.

But ... I said above I have DirecTV, so I "supplement" my payments to them with some downloaded fare.

Mostly, stuff from the BBC that I cannot yet watch in the states.

John from Pomeroy on the Palouse said...

@DustBunnyQueen (or should it be @Dust Bunny Queen?)

You can somewhat personalize your Dish remote to show have your Guide button only show channels you want. push the "Menu" button, the select "Favorites". You're on your own from here (because my 12 year old daughter set us up), but it's probably in the owner's manual.

My only complaint with Dish is that when they upgraded me to a HD receiver a couple of years ago, I didn't know that it has to shut off once every 24 hours to download the schedule. Whatever time I pick, there'll be a Turner Classics movie that gets recorded as static and snow.

wv: uncon. Must be neocons that don't know it.

AJ Lynch said...

1- A lot of people knock what is available on TV but Kimsch's lengthy list proves there are a lot of good quality shows to watch. I too enjoy many of those she listed.

2- I am always amazed at the number of people who go to great lengths to avoid watching commercials. Commercials are really harmless people!

Phil 3:14 said...

Yeah, I heard this piece this morning. Deford can be a crank.

Steve Koch said...

ESPN is paying U of Texas $300 million (over 20 years) for the right to produce a channel called the Longhorn Network. The LHN is filled with 3rd tier content from U of Texas that nobody but a Tex Ex would be interested in. ESPN produces the shows and makes them look slick and professional even though the audience is mainly just Texas fans.

MarkW said...

Sports is really the ONLY reason we have cable -- otherwise, we'd be perfectly happy with Netflix, Hulu and other internet programming.

C'mon ESPN -- give us a $10/month package of your channels over the net, I'll put an antenna back up for local channels, and we'd spend a small fraction of what we do now.

george said...

Actually, the only things we are forced to pay up for are NPR and PBS.

NPR really has no shame given the fact they would not even exist were it not for the willingness of the government to use force to fund them.

As to the channel packages offered by the providers I would say a lot of that has to do with the fact that the government limits the number of cable providers that there are. Typically a locality will give a franchise to a single company so there is really very little competition. I shudder to think what my cable bill would be if we didn't have at least two providers in my county. Satellite has been a huge boon here as well.

But I also hate how NPR focuses on something that men like as being the evil thing we all have to pay for. What about those damned soap operas that have ruined so many marriages? Or Oprah and her constant man bashing? There are lots of things they could have chosen but if they had been even handed then they would have been left with the understanding that there is something for everyone in these packages.

But what sort of propaganda would that be? How can you justify forcing people to pay for your service when they willingly pay for your competitors? Better to just cook up some sort of false moral equivalency argument and call it a day. It is close enough for government work.

Personable Pet Care said...

nice post and amazing comments, but i will go with sports channel only, coz i love it...