Why I regret cutting the cord, and leaving DISH for streaming.
Fed up with the monthly kick in the gut of opening my TV bill, I succumbed to the lure of “cutting the cord.” Now, my monthly kick in the gut has been replaced by a daily kick in the head in the form of frustration over my TV-viewing options. Was my TV service possibly worth the money?
Lots of choices, few good options
After dumping pay TV, my only legal TV options were streaming services and/or the old, rabbit-ears antenna. Both choices are wrought with frustration.
I started with streaming. At first I loved Netflix. It had a dozen or so TV shows and a handful of movies I wanted to watch. I figured, by the time I got done watching them all, Netflix would surely have added more shows I like. I was wrong. With continuous play and no commercials, I plowed through my shows in a few short months. Now, when I want to sit down to watch TV for an hour, I have to spend the first half of that hour scrolling through pages and pages of crap, hoping to find something I can tolerate.
When I was paying for TV finding what to watch was simpler. I just turned on the TV and, having already left it on a channel I like, something decent was usually on. It may not have been my favorite show, but at least I didn’t have to spend an hour deciding what to watch. Besides, most of my favorite shows aren’t on Netflix, not the current seasons anyway. I began wondering why I bothered with the streaming service at all.
I tried other streaming services. They all had similarly incomplete libraries. The more services I added, the more places I had to look to find a show I like after exhausting my initial interests. Having all those options sounds enticing until you actually have to scroll through them all to choose one. After a long day at work, I just wanted to watch some TV. Maybe Netflix should institute a “play anything now” button. Or maybe I should just avoid the hassle and sign up with DISH.
Fees Upon Fees
I could’ve subscribed to all the streaming services and had access to more things I want to watch. They all cost roughly the same. But, with every service I might have added, I would have been cutting into the savings I got by eliminating satellite, which was the biggest reason I cut the cord in the first place. The few services I did try were already costing me more than I expected.
A few streaming services made me sit through commercials, even though I paid a subscription fee. If the streaming service is selling air time to advertisers, what exactly was I paying for? The lack of commercials is supposed to be one of the major appeals of streaming. Seeing commercials on a streaming service is like buying a novel and finding junk mail stuck between the chapters. I know satellite companies also play commercials after charging a fee, but at least satellite offers current programming and live TV.
Other streaming services even lead me to think they had a movie I was excited about watching, only to discover I would be charged an additional fee to rent the movie. What is the point of a subscription fee if you’re going to charge me for the good movies anyway? I’m lookin’ at you, Amazon Prime.
With streaming, you really do get what you pay for, and $8 a month won’t get you much. Getting the good stuff will cost you either more money or more time.
The Streaming Sinkhole
After cutting the cord, I slowly began to notice I was less productive at home. I chalked up the loss in productivity to all the time I spent searching for shows. One day at my parents’ house, watching a ball game with my dad, I realized the real culprit behind my streaming-related productivity slump.
The first quarter of the game ended and I jumped up off the couch to hit the bathroom during the commercial break.
Although some streaming services sprinkle commercials in, they don’t have a proper commercial break. Without commercial breaks, I never got a built-in bathroom break. I never got a built-in break to go unload the dishwasher, change the laundry, run the garbage out, or any other chores I used to get done while watching TV. Plus, with continuous play, I didn’t even get a break between episodes.
Before relying on streaming services, I could find a movie playing on TV and clean the house during the commercials. I could spend my Saturday afternoon relaxing, but also being productive. Now I am locked in front of the TV like it has a tractor beam. You could argue I should just have a little willpower and get off the couch. But, after spending so long searching for what to watch, I don’t want to just leave and miss the show.
I never realized how much I got done during commercial breaks. I know I was previously blasting streaming services for having commercials and now I’m blasting them for not having commercials. But, don’t confuse the commercials themselves with commercial breaks. Getting the random, one-off commercial while streaming is disruptive and annoying. A TV commercial break is expected and practical. They’re like a magic time bubble where the TV world stopped just so I can grab snack. I can’t believe I miss them so much.
Rabbit Ear Rage
Along with missing commercials, watching the game with my dad made me realize I really missed watching live sports.
Without satellite TV, my options for watching live sports were either going somewhere that had the game on (usually a bar) or using my antenna and digital converter box to watch the few games broadcast on network television.
Since cutting the cord, I attempted to watch football and basketball games broadcast over the airwaves. The reception was spotty at best. Attempting to find the right positioning of the antenna was like trying to catch a fly with chop sticks. Just when you think you’ve got it, it’s gone. Eventually I got the picture to come in clearly, then I moved and the reception was gone again. I moved again and the picture came back, then went away again. The ensuing dance I performed for the god of reception was something close to the YMCA.
Finally I found a way to sit that was somewhat comfortable and kept the reception on the TV. As the game went on, the exciting moments caused me to move and inevitably miss all the best parts. I couldn’t get any reception while on the edge of my seat. It was like smelling a delicious meal you couldn’t eat. The frustration nearly drove me mad. If only there were a way to hardwire my TV into a network that didn’t rely on rabbit-ear reception.
>>> Rediscover the joy of live sports on TV. – USDISH.com
Craving the Dish
Through my frustration I came to realize, when I had satellite, I wasn’t just paying for a TV service. I was also paying for convenience and peace of mind. I was paying the satellite company to make decisions about what’s on so that I didn’t have to. I was paying so that I knew I wouldn’t miss the big game. I was paying to avoid doing the antenna Macarena just to watch network television. Looking back now, having satellite service was worth every penny. Plus, the added productivity from commercial breaks was a nice bonus.
Congratulations, satellite, I’m coming back.