Cutting the cord. An adman living without cable.

It’s been about a week now since I cut the cable off. Why? Several reasons actually. Lousy service and rising prices mainly. Not just from one company but from both of the providers that are available to me. And no, I’m not going to get a satellite dish – BTDT.

Cutting the cable also provides me what I think is a glipse at the future. Much like the original wave of ISPs including Earthlink, Mindspring, and AOL, (and a lot of companies you’ve forgotten the name of) I believe that cable television providers are about to be marginalized. How? Just take a look at what this internet connected TV can do that costs about what an average cable bill does for a year.


You can watch Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, MLB and update your Facebook account without accessing cable. Sports, TV programing, and movies – isn’t that what people have cable for? Cable content is now included in the cost of a television. So what is ATT and Comcasts response? Throttling (hearsey) and limiting your bandwidth.

Now, I don’t own the above TV and can’t tell you how well it works as a media center. I actually own an Apple TV 2. It’s not much bigger than a hockey puck and out of the box it streams iTunes, Netflix, MLB, YouTube, and NBA content for $99. I’m very pleased with the quality of the content. The iTunes and NetFlix content looks close to my former 720p HD cable. Some of the iTunes stuff looks even better.

I’ve also hacked my Apple TV and added Plex. This requires a computer operating as a media server alongside the set top box. Basically, it required me installing a free app on my iMac. I’ll be honest, this isn’t easy but if you’re not afraid of doing a little programing and internet forum searching, it’s doable.

Hacking the Apple TV allowed me to install a lot of plugins that enable streaming video from all over the web and all over the world. This includes things like French TV, films from Lion’s Gate and most important to my wife, Hulu and the major network video players. This adds a whole new dimension to your TV experience.

Now, the flash video from many of these players isn’t on par with the MPEG2 two stream coming to your cable box. But for the most part, I was watching lower quality recorded shows on my DVR anyway. So no big deal for me.

The point of this article isn’t to bash the cable companies. Or to advocate for cutting the cable. It’s simply to say there is a shift happening in they way content is being delivered to homes. This is part of the cloud computing shift and it’s going to be as big as what’s already happened in mobile. As a advertising professional, it’s my responsibility to understand these changes as they begin to affect clients.

New agreements are going to be negotiated between networks and cable providers. Content providers may even start to look for new ways to sell their products. Ridiculous? Who would have thought HBO would be one of the most highly regarded content providers in the industry 15 years ago? Who knows, maybe BMW will be next.

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Posted on: May 23, 2011, by :