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.