Back in 2012, we “cut the cord” in our apartment. Well, we still have cable Internet from Comcast, but nothing else. Our monthly fees dipped by over $100/month. Instead, I pay Netflix $8/month to access their library (David Attenborough!), and occasionally buy or rent a movie from our AppleTV. Immediately, our overall TV watching decreased. We listened to more music and talk radio (especially on Swell Radio). I do not miss having Cable TV at all. For serious sports fans, it will be hard to do this, but I have my favorite events and they happen to be on network television, so I never miss them!
For $99 (AppleTV) and $8/month, we dropped Comcast’s bloated fees. It was telling that when I went in to drop off my unit and remote, there wasn’t even a shred of customer service to woo me back. The lady took my stuff and processed the paperwork as it were routine. I asked her how often people like me come in, and she said, “All day, every day.”
What does this mean for Comcast? It means that I will probably have my WiFi throttled as punishment. It means that I should expect them to charge me more for Internet, though there is real competition there with low switching costs. It means that those who are addicted to Cable TV will be charged more, and more. Corporations like Comcast do not like to see losses, and they’re excellent at filling in those holes. All this said, I’m sure most of the country uses set-top boxes like I did for years. TV makes people feel connected, grounded to something. TV also kills creativity. Cable TV providers will be around for a while, but those who subscribe may get more and more preferential treatment.
I wonder what it will take to back Comcast into a corner. It may take years, but I think the straw on the camel’s back here is a loud chorus of people who want to stream content from their devices to their TVs. They want whatever content from the web and then they want it on a bigger screen. The demand for bandwidth with increase, and therefore, I suspect Cable TV plans will look more like how cell phone companies charge us today — free calls and texts, but segmentation based on data consumption. For Cable TV, that could be free television channels plus cable, but segmentation based on cable Internet bandwidth.