The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

Cutting Cable

Streaming services have replaced cable as the most accessible, affordable and simplest alternative for television.

A couple of years ago, my family made the collective decision to cease our subscription to our cable TV provider, with the mutual understanding that we rarely watched cable TV anymore. Later, however, I also remember the struggle that we endured as we resorted to watching the Academy Awards through a Youtube channel with a 40-minute delay. Although this was, in a sense, a manageable solution, it was hardly convenient or reasonable. A few delays and glitches later, the anticipated Oscar-viewing vibes disappeared. 

That day we impulsively contemplated paying for a cable TV subscription again, with the belief that it would offer us a greater range of entertainment options, from documentaries to premium television experiences (such as the viewing of award shows). Ultimately, we decided against this judgment. 

Multiple factors went into our decision, but the elephant in the living room was the increased affordability of streaming TV services in contrast to cable TV. For one, streaming TV doesn’t sneak up on its subscribers with any hidden fees or long-term commitments: if you obtain the streaming TV services, you pay for it. If you don’t want it anymore, you can just cancel your subscription. Easy. On the contrary, the costs of cable TV subscriptions have inflated so much that customers, including my family, are forgoing cable services in their entirety. According to Berkeley Marketing, between 1995-2005, the average cable bundle nearly doubled in size, an establishment that was accompanied by unsustainable bills that rose 3 times faster than inflation. 

During our decision-making process, this burdening cost of cable TV went hand in hand with the limited options cable TV had to offer to us, daily consumers of entertainment. With an unmitigated increase in the prices of cable television, customers are no longer willing to pay for a plethora of channels that they don’t watch.  

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated that “the average cable subscriber was paying for more than 85 channels that [they] didn’t watch in order to obtain the approximately 16 channels that [they] do.” That statement was a relatable sentiment to my family, as we were frequently watching ESPN and the occasional news network, but nothing else. So, why should I pay the cost of 50 entertainment channels when I only plan to view 2 or 3 of them? This seems like nothing but a wasteful drain on my wallet, an experience that I would not wish to undergo. 

Where the disadvantage lies in canceling our cable TV plan was our inability to efficiently stream international programming, like the award shows that my family enjoys watching, or the live programming of sports. However, with streaming services offering their own bundles, consisting of contracts with sports streaming services like ESPN, the live programming of sports is another solution that can also be solved by streaming TV rather than cable TV.

This increased accessibility and efficiency is understandably increasing the fanbase of streaming TV providers. In fact, according to Netflix, one in two households in the US and Canada has a Netflix subscription, bringing the total subscribers to more than 67 million in North America and over 100 million worldwide. This estimation is fair, considering the wide selection of content and customizable options that streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and SlingTV offer to its customers, from any accessible digital device.  CNBC states that dozens of leaders in the TV industry conclude that the number of subscribers to legacy cable services will ultimately decline, due to budget and funding moving towards streaming services, instead.

As a side effect of allocating my funding towards streaming services, I do confess that I might experience a degree of separation anxiety from the live cable broadcasts that I’ve watched since I was a child. However, for my family, and for most families, the option of cable can be evidently substituted by other streaming services that are more affordable and offer a variety of television options. So, I suppose the Oscars will have to take a backseat, for now. 

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About the Contributor
Stavyah Naveen
Stavyah Naveen, Online Manager
Avid lover of The Office and coffee. Together.  

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