Chapter 1: Going Cold Turkey
I did it. I pulled the plug on cable.
At the beginning of July, I moved to a new apartment. When it came to television my options were limited. I believed I essentially had two options. First, I could sign a two-year contract with DIRECTV, which in my mind wasn’t an option at all, considering that it seems far-fetched that I’ll need cable in two years. Last year, I considered signing a two-year contract for cable, but I’m glad I didn’t because I’d still have a year left and I wouldn’t have had the option to end it. Two years is a long time. I didn’t even have Netflix until about five months ago. My second option was to pay a ridiculous amount of money for “basic” cable through Time Warner Cable.
But after my recent binging of “Mad Men’s” five seasons in less than two months—I had just a season and a half left—and with fall launches not picking back up until mid-September, I asked myself, “Do I really need cable?”
After moving I told my roommate (who by the way only watches “Duck Dynasty” and reads “Cosmopolitan”) that with Netflix and Hulu Plus, I didn’t want to sign up for cable until September. I ordered my Internet and subscribed to Hulu Plus. It’s been 23 days since I left my beloved AT&T U-verse cable box. The shows and networks that I miss but am living without? “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” ESPN, “SportsCenter” and my daily 15 minutes of morning and late news.
I’m pretty sure living without the Kardashians is only in my best interest, but I am completely unable to get any shows at all from E! Besides this, most networks, such as Bravo, Fox, the CW and NBC, allow me to watch their shows on their websites immediately after they air, so I can stream them to my TV from my computer and Apple TV.
What kills me, and may continue to kill me, is the inability to just turn on a game or see what’s on weekly sports talk. I don’t have time to read sports articles at work, and having just moved two blocks away from the beach, I’m busy after work doing other things, such as running on the beach, going to yoga, and catching concerts on the pier.
I was an international business major so not too long ago I LIVED off of morning and night news and the 6:00 a.m. stock market report. I have an app for my stocks so that hasn’t been a problem in the past few weeks, but with the news, I keep feeling left out. It’s as if I’m not informed or not paying attention to issues and news going on that I really care about. This might just require planning though, like anything else. Maybe it’s just about finding the time to watch news or read or listen to a podcast at some point during the day.
I originally told myself I would wait until September to order cable, but then I remembered the season opener for USC football is on August 29. There is a sports package that I have heard I can order through ESPN that I can stream on my Apple TV. However, the networks I cannot watch for sure are premium cable networks HBO and Showtime, and panic will definitely set in when I remember that I can’t tune in to “Homeland” on September 29. Plus, I’m missing “True Blood” and just all of the movies. I saw a tweet the other day about HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which is a reality show about the Cincinnati Bengals, which I’m also just trying not to think about because I’d REALLY like to see that. Winter is definitely going to be harder to get through than summer.
I haven’t quite figured out what I will do come September. I would rather look for other options than just subscribing to cable if all I am truly missing out on is news and sports. I’ve starting weighing my options and looked into ways to beat the system: Do I just go to friend’s houses to watch HBO? Do I find a local bar where I can watch sports? Do I just wait until the shows I’m missing make their way to iTunes? Or do I immerse myself in the other shows available on Netflix and Hulu Plus and just get over the cable shows I don’t have access to?
The hardest part is yet to come. Over the next four weeks—before I make the decision whether or not to come back to cable — I know I will have conversations with my friends, peers and co-workers about last night’s game or something that’s happening in the news, and I won’t be up to date. We’ll see if my “fear of missing out” finally forces me to subscribe.
Alexis Hay is PromaxBDA’s digital manager and serves as the voice of the association’s social media engagement. She graduated from the University of Southern California as an international business major in 2010 and is a huge sports fan. Hay is documenting her experiences as a cord-cutter in a multi-part series for Brief.