The Worst Deal In Entertainment Keeps Getting Worse

Technological advances are supposed to make our lives easier—cheaper too—according to the conventional wisdom. But when it comes to television, the worst deal in entertainment keeps getting worse.

Are you a cable subscriber? And if so do you watch more than a fraction of the stations delivered to you? In fact, most of us don’t. So when the cable industry tries to tell you that your cost per hour has remained flat for over a decade, keep in mind that their argument only holds up if your viewing time has skyrocketed. Back in 1996, I paid about $35/month for “extended-basic” cable. Were I to subscribe today the cost would be around $60, an increase that is double the rate of inflation.

And do I get more for that additional cost? Not really. 40 more channels, but none that I watch. Digital cable? Nope. That costs extra. High-definition picture? No again. You gotta pay even more for that on top of the cost of digital cable. “So what,” you may ask, “…keeps the cable industry cranking along?” Only dead-simple convenience. No hassles, little hardware, high-bandwidth—and it’s that last factor, bandwidth, that may be the most important going forward.

I’ve watched a few shows from the Internet, purchased some science fiction from iTunes, and frankly it’s a pain in the ass. One hour of video consumes about a half-a-gig of storage and takes forever to download. So if the cable industry can just make sure that the ‘hassle factor’ for Internet video remains high, we’ll keep right on buying their overpriced services. Does anyone really think that recently announced ‘bandwidth caps’ and ‘metered pricing’ schemes are designed to slow down P2P? Not a chance! The cable industry wants to stop us from using our Internet connections to download video, thus maintaining their monopoly on content delivery.

9 thoughts on “The Worst Deal In Entertainment Keeps Getting Worse”

  1. I’m guilty! I travel all week (Madam is home but she only watches TVLand, AMC, and TMC) and I pay somewhere around a $100 a month for DirectTV. When I am home though, I have movies in High Def and anything else I want. DirectTV is $50 bucks a month cheaper than Charter which I recently dropped and has more HD and more channels. I actually think $100 a month is a pretty good deal even though I only get to watch a few hours on the weekend.

  2. The security thingy on the site is suboptimal to say the least. If you screw up the entry(many are unreadable) then it also erases your post instead of just offering you another test. The reality is that if a user gets 2 or 3 of the characters correct and in the right order it is not a machine or bot reading it. Requiring 100% accuracy is really not necessary. BTW I am just grumpy this evening.

  3. I gave up cable for NetFlix. Television sucks anyway, why pay so much to watch shit like Wife Swap and Dancing with the Stars? They should be paying me.

  4. What I have learned is this: eventually, everything, good or bad, makes to it one video format or another. If there’s something I really want to see, if I’m patient, it will be available for rent at some future date where I can watch it, sans commercials, at my convenience, and at a rate cheaper than cable, where I’m paying for channels I will never watch.

  5. Fallenmonk… I’m not big on the HD thing. As the Frogette mentioned we dumped cable and now depend on Netflix. But I’m curious… If you’re paying $50/month but only watching a couple of hours on weekends your cost is around $5/hour. Seems pretty high to me.

    About the spam control, I haven’t found a captcha yet that preserves comments. When I upgrade to WordPress 2.5, I’ll probably look into alternate solutions. Sorry for the trouble.

  6. Frogette… I hear that ‘Dancing With Stars’ is pretty addictive.

    Lew… Well said. The only place this really breaks down is with sports. Everything else makes it to DVD eventually.

  7. Cable does not have a “monopoly” as long as broadcast and satellite exist (not to mention the ‘Net).

    I tried DirecTV once. I didn’t like it how the signal went out whenever it rained. But I suppose I could get used to praying for drought in order to ensure reliable television.

  8. What is totally amazing is that the TV industry exists to send advertising into citizen’s homes with athletes, executives and pundits skimming huge sums off the top. For this citizens pay $600 to a $1,000 a year.
    If everybody simply refused to pay cable fees, the industry would eventually offer its viewing for free in order to continue to sending advertisement into our homes.
    Think about it.

  9. I wonder if folk realize that television is the method used by Big Brother to lobotomize you.

    Yes, folks, while you sit on your lounges drinking beer and eating snacks and staring at the flickering screen, your brain is being invaded with tiny signals which blow your fuses. A few years of this and you’ll do as you’re told and, wait for it, you could watch grass growing and find it highly stimulating!

    In fact, in America, I believe some people are so highly dosed that they can watch television even when its turned off and whoop and laugh a treat.

    Those lucky folk don’t have to pay for cable anymore and they’re programmed to vote Republican!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *