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Television Businesses The Almighty Buck The Internet

Are Cable Subscribers Subsidizing Internet-Only TV Viewers? 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-it-while-it-lasts dept.
waderoush sends a tongue-in-cheek open letter to cable TV subscribers from somebody who has cut the cord in favor of streaming shows over the internet. "Dear Cable TV Subscriber: I don't think I've ever told you how grateful I am. I haven't paid a cent for cable television since 2009. Yet I have on-demand access via the Internet to a growing cornucopia of great shows like Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, at reasonable à la carte prices. And it's all because you continue to pay exorbitant and ever-increasing monthly fees for your premium cable bundle (around $80 per month, on average). After all, your money goes straight to the studios and networks that produce and distribute all the expensive first-run programming that I'm perfectly happy to watch later at heavily discounted prices. So in effect, you're subsidizing my own footloose, freeloading, cord-cutting TV habits. I don't know how to thank you!"
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Are Cable Subscribers Subsidizing Internet-Only TV Viewers?

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  • Mod question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shoten (260439) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:14PM (#45170335)

    Is it possible to mod an entire Slashdot article as "Flamebait?"

    • by Wookact (2804191)
      Half the articles anymore either need a flamebait or a slashvertisment mod. I expect the slashdot experience to continue to get worse especially after the "Update" they will be preforming tonight.
      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Remember when we could vote articles up or down (http://web.archive.org/web/20100612085708/http://slashdot.org/ [archive.org])? If tonights updates brings us to that fucking god awful beta site permanently with no option to keep classic /. then I'm done. The only exception would be if they unfuck the comment system and get rid of that emaciated layout.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by queazocotal (915608)

          The new site has in fact been worked on in the background for several years, ever since a particular incident where a temporary redesign caused lawyers to get in touch and put it back to normal.
          After long negotiations, the company saw that slashdot was a suitable platform for their outreach beyond their core audience.

          They are in fact changing the comments system to 'Comments are Magic' - and slashdot will henceforth be known as 'My Little Slashy'.

          • by cshark (673578)

            They are in fact changing the comments system to 'Comments are Magic' - and slashdot will henceforth be known as 'My Little Slashy'.

            I draw the line at slashdot becoming a pony cartoon. Anything short of that I think I'm okay with... especially if it pisses off the hipsters.

        • Re:Mod question... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:31PM (#45171213) Homepage Journal

          You haven't heard of the firehose? If you didn't vote against the story don't bitch about it being posted.

          • The firehouse is a farce! The only people going there are the people who have time to waste that wasn't already wasted on the front page. Voting a front page story up or down means it passed the sniff test, but might not perform under pressure.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              You can set your preferences so that submissions show up on the front page, and you can vote from there. I participate.

    • It should be.... sounds like a cable exec loaded up a bong (its medicinal) and this idea was the result.....

    • Re:Mod question... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:30PM (#45171205) Homepage Journal

      Maybe, but not now. Netflix? Pshaw, most cable channels are on the internet. The truth is only flamebait to the stupid.

      The cable companies are killing themselves. I've been OTA for years, 400 channels but I might want to watch six of them and you want $80? Are you insane?

      Cable use to be a good deal. A dozen extra channels, including HBO, none with commercials and local TV without snow or ghosts for ten bucks a month.

      Now? Not only do they have commercials but you get commercials during the actual content! Empty-V played music videos, now they show the same reality TV bullshit you get OTA (which no longer has ghosts or snow since it's now digital). History showed ancient Greece, WWII, etc, now they have "Ice Road Truckers". Discovery used to have science and tech, now it's "Trick My Truck".

      They expect me to pay them for that?

      But I'm a geezer, I remember 3 black and white stations in a large city. I get half a dozen stations in a small city, crystal clear, in higher definition than cable streams.

      You think I'm paying for that?

      Flamebait, my ass. Wake up. If cable wants me back they can offer a la carte with no fucking commercials. If I'm paying for content and with my eyeballs you're charging me twice and you're ripping me off. Fuck cable and the horse it rode in on,

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I hope so. He certainly does pay a fee for his television, he's just ignoring it. You can not stream TV without having an internet, and internet is not free. But but but... some hipster is saying that they already have internet so why not use it? Except that if you're not streaming TV on your internet then you do not need the ridiculously high bandwidth that you're paying for.

      Thank the people that are subsidizing the internet. I have no idea how they can stream on a $30/month plan when my $50/month pla

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I have no idea how they can stream on a $30/month plan when my $50/month plan bogs down my game playing if there's something downloading in the background

        Try an add on network card if the other guy's suggestion isn't feasible for you. An Intel or 3com would be nice if you can lay your hands on one. A used one would be ok

        Some of the on board network cards (and even ad on) use the host computer's system processor and memory like the old wintel modems did. What this does is creates a CPU and Memory load when

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Even better idea....hae a second box for downloading! If you want to go ultra cheap C2D towers are a dime a dozen and if space is an issue? Throw together a mini based around one of those $70 AMD Bobcat boards. If you don't mind spending a little money they have prebuilt Bobcat systems small enough that they can mount to the back of the monitor and those 1.6GHz dual cores sip power. Finally add a KVM switch and tada! No more having laggy gameplay.

          As for TFA it all comes down to one thing....greed. Greed

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:15PM (#45170341)
    Thank you streaming subscriber for subsidizing my torrents. Sorry to sound like a snide dick, but once you got things rolling I decided, why not?
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday October 18, 2013 @07:19PM (#45170797)

      "Thank you streaming subscriber for subsidizing my torrents. Sorry to sound like a snide dick, but once you got things rolling I decided, why not? Reply to This Share"

      I have to wonder why OP thinks his "heavily discounted" prices are in fact heavily discounted, anyway. The fact that other people may be getting gouged with a backhoe doesn't mean you're not being gouged with a pitchfork.

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:16PM (#45170353)

    ...just as soon as they're not the best internet provider in town.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2013 @07:29PM (#45170851)

      You can have internet only services. You'll lose "bundle" pricing, but you'll still save a shit load of cash because you won't be paying TV services, STB/DVR rental costs, FCC, and taxes and other fees etc. We save around $98/month by not having cable TV, just FiOS 50/25mbps. Viewing fodder is made up with Netflix at ~$8-9/month. The interesting thing about losing cable TV is that the family didn't care, I was the main loser due to the loss of sports.

      Think of it this way, after one year of our not having cable TV service, we can buy both the PS4 and Xbone with the reduction in outgoing expenditure.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Holy shit! You SAVE $98? And here I thought my bill was getting exhorbitant by going up to $70. If I saved $98 they'd have to be paying me. Ok, add in my $50 internet and it starts adding up but I'd have to greatly increase my internet fee to actually start streaming shows without it bogging down other uses of the internet. When and if I cut the cord, I'll mostly likely be using physical Netflix DVD, or nothing at all.

  • Afterall, it's cable subscribers that are recording the shows that get put on the torrent sites. Call it getting a ROI.

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Friday October 18, 2013 @07:02PM (#45170673)
      My own opinion is that cable subscribers shouldn't be paying for the shows through their cable either. They should be paying the cable company for distribution of content. Seperately, the content should be paid for either by the consumer, advertising, something else or some combination. If they were more separated they might focus on making money with better distribution and better content rather than locking the two together.
      • A few years back, most cable companies offered a $10 package that was the local network affiliates and cable access/shopping/religious and government channels. Those seemed to have disappeared. My local cable company did carry such a package but never advertised it, you had to call to get it.
    • Content providers have to pay to get on networks too, since they get all the advertising profits. Not all do, some get paid, but cable companies get more money from companies paying to get onto the network than they have to pay to others. This open letter would make sense if it was completely true, but the ones paying are the people buying the products that get advertised and the ones watching the shows via cable, not the cable companies.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:28PM (#45170433) Journal

    The cable TV model is broken. You know what, TV isn't that important. Screw them.

    It'll probably have to crash and burn until something reasonable emerges. We've had direct-to-DVD for awhile, and we're starting to see direct-to-streaming-services. There may come a time when big expensive TV shows can't be produced anymore, but that model is broken too. Screw them also.

    I suspect that things will transition to something new, and the studios and networks and content providers that refused to evolve will die. And that's fine. And if TV devolved to public access, that'd be fine to. Sometime last century we were trained to believe that TV is essential. If the entire broadcast/cable TV system collapsed with nothing to take its place (which I think is unlikely) at very least, we'd find out that TV really isn't essential after all.

    So yeah, the last of the "tv generation" is paying the exorbitant salaries and production costs for three-and-a-half men. Serves them right.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      It won't crash&burn, because they'll go crying to Congress... ZOMG!!! PIRATES!!!! OUR PROFIT$$$ and CAMPAIGN $$$$ ARE DISAPPEARING!!!!

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        ....and any congress creature who votes to give them tax money needs to face heavy opposition in the next primary.....

        • How many of the congresscritters in the 105th Congress got primaried for passing the No Electronic Theft Act, Copyright Term Extension Act, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        So what, if no one watches TV anymore and no one even pirates shows to watch, then there's no way they can get profits. Just stop watching.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:55PM (#45170635)

      The cable TV model is broken. You know what, TV isn't that important. Screw them.

      If dealing with Comcast was half as pleasant as dry Greek, I'd probably subscribe to cable. Things they need to do to capture my dollar:

      1) Stop encrypting the over-the-air content. I neither want nor need a fucking cable box for every TV.
      2) Stop hiring idiots and liars. If I get transferred more than twice during a call, you lose a customer. I don't have time for that.
      3) Stop playing price obscurity / bait & switch games. Fuck your "$39.99 / 3 months, $whothefuckknows for the next two years" offers. Prices up front.

      • And so should some other people.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        This.

        To which I might add, until you do at least these things, stop coming to my door monthly and trying to get me to switch from your competitor. I'm not *using* your competitor for anything except internet. I don't *care* how good a deal the bundle is. I don't *care* how many hundreds of channels you have. I don't need you. Take two steps back. Look up. That's called an antenna. Say it with me. "An-TEN-na." It magically sucks network TV signals right out of the air. For everything else, we have

        • That's called an antenna. Say it with me. "An-TEN-na." It magically sucks network TV signals right out of the air. For everything else, we have Netflix and Hulu. And you don't. Get off my lawn.

          With antenna + Netflix + Hulu Plus, you still miss out on Monday Night Football. And without cable, you may end up stuck on slow DSL.

          • by Zordak (123132)
            I have internet cable, but no cable TV. It's not that hard. You're right that I "miss out" on Monday Night Football, but I also "missed out" on the Spanish Inquisition, and I miss both of those things approximately equally.
            • by roc97007 (608802)

              Roger that!

            • by unitron (5733)

              I have internet cable, but no cable TV. It's not that hard. You're right that I "miss out" on Monday Night Football, but I also "missed out" on the Spanish Inquisition, and I miss both of those things approximately equally.

              As I recall, the Spanish Inquisition was available (whether you wanted it or not) without ESPN getting $5 a month out of every cable subscriber whether they cared about sports or not.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            That's called an antenna. Say it with me. "An-TEN-na." It magically sucks network TV signals right out of the air. For everything else, we have Netflix and Hulu. And you don't. Get off my lawn.

            With antenna + Netflix + Hulu Plus, you still miss out on Monday Night Football. And without cable, you may end up stuck on slow DSL.

            Yeah, I don't watch football, but my wife is a rabid fan. Somehow she manages to watch the games. Monday Night Football was on one of the local channels (I honestly don't know if it is this season -- it's something I don't follow) but I know she's been using a combination of off-air tv, the internet, and the occasional evening in a sports bar to keep up with her games.

    • by IANAAC (692242)

      Sometime last century we were trained to believe that TV is essential. If the entire broadcast/cable TV system collapsed with nothing to take its place (which I think is unlikely) at very least, we'd find out that TV really isn't essential after all.

      The TV system *is* being replaced, albeit slowly with something else: the internet. There was a time when all TV was used for was news and weather. Most people don't sit down in front of the TV for news these days (and no, opinion is not news). They get their news from the internet. People get entertainment from TV these days.

      And, don't look now, but we've already been trained to believe the internet is a necessity in our lives.

      • by rsborg (111459)

        Most people don't sit down in front of the TV for news these days (and no, opinion is not news). They get their news from the internet. People get entertainment from TV these days.

        I blame CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for this just as equally as the Internet's rise. These shows are designed to entertain a market, not inform citizens.

        I for one, can't wait for TV to die. It does little productive except keep people from truly experiencing life. Even at our house, the TV is rarely watched except on major events or for the kiddies (it's a nice reward) but with iPads and Netflix, it's not even needed for that much anymore either... I keep wanting an excuse to replace our 42" LCD with a newe

  • by pjrc (134994)

    All you have to do to say "thanks" is get hooked on some show, and then occasionally pay iTunes' high prices for early access to new episodes. That's all. Simple, really, isn't it?

  • by mattack2 (1165421) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:29PM (#45170441)

    I admittedly only skimmed the article. But where are the "reasonable" a la carte prices?

    Both Amazon & iTunes charge $2.99 ($3.99 for HD) per episode for "Game of Thrones" S1. (Yes, a bit less per ep if you buy an entire season, but that doesn't really count as a la carte anymore, does it?)

    I would gladly pay at least the same, maybe even slightly more, than I pay now for cable, to be able to watch everything commercial free/when I want without having to Tivo them.. But I'd pay a LOT more than cable, if you use the current prices of every single individual show.

    • by alen (225700)

      a lot of cable channels now have streaming options with some cable providers. you log in with your online cable company log in and you can stream content. Time Warner and a few others will let you stream live TV on a tablet or phone or computer and you can even watch recorded shows online for a few days after the airing so you don't need a DVR

      HBO Go, Bravo, Disney, ESPN off the top of my head but there are others as well.

    • by WCLPeter (202497)

      But where are the "reasonable" a la carte prices?

      Depends on what you consider "reasonable", how willing you are to think outside the box, and how willing you are to be patient. After listening to my family complain constantly about the $220.00 per month, $2,640.00 annually, we were spending on Cable and Internet we took at look at what was available and what we were willing to give up.

      With our Cable cancellation, which was a $120.00 per month and at a different provider from our Internet, we now had $1,440

  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:32PM (#45170461) Homepage
    You obviously haven't taken a look at Comcast's balance sheet if you think that $80/month is going to the studios.
    • You obviously haven't taken a look at Comcast's balance sheet if you think that $80/month is going to the studios.

      I heard a stat that cable companies pay $6 per month for ESPN/ESPN2 [npr.org]. That's just two channels. Most channels are not that expensive, but if you have 100 channels....it is not hard to see how you're going to get a lot of that money going to content providers.

      Other note I would make is that it is not exactly new to have "dry" cable internet. There are millions out there with cable internet and no TV -- and the cable companies do it willingly; I don't think they would do it if it really caused significant pric

  • This is an incredibly strange point to try to make when an ENORMOUS amount of people are paying the CABLE company for their basic Internet.

    • by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Friday October 18, 2013 @07:04PM (#45170691)

      My ISP is the cable company.

      At first, we just signed up for internet. The initial rate was $30/month. After a year, the cable company double it to $60. After another year, they sent notice that it would go up to $90. We called them to downgrade to the next lower tier. The customer service rep said if we bundled TV service, we'd only pay $80 and stay at the same internet service tier. After 2 years, that went up to $100 and has stayed there since. We have asked about dropping TV, but they told us they'd then have put us on a business account, which would be $120 per month - and, because of our location, the service would still be residential because our area is only wired for residential service.

      I can only guess that they really want to keep their TV subscriber numbers up.

      On the other hand, using the TV on demand feature does help us avoid hitting the monthly internet usage cap.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        You might want to go with DSL, it serves my purposes, even though I think $47 a month is too much.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Ya, I have around $50/month with vdsl (u-verse), and 12mbps. Which is more internet than a home user needs if they're not torrenting or streaming.
          I could save money if I bundled TV with it, but they don't have a great TV option I don't think.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            That's what I have and it streams just fine, even with bittorrent running, but I live alone so there are never more than 4 devices online (counting my Android phone).

  • by keith_nt4 (612247) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:53PM (#45170613) Journal

    I don't know if I qualify as a cord cutter: cable internet is cheaper if you get it bundled with TV service where I am so I got the bare minimum tv service with internet. My cable box (can't get TV without their box) hasn't even been connected is nearly a year (set it up in case visitors were insistent). I calculated out the tv portion to be about $10 / month.

    I use my xbox for comcast video on demand service which thanks to a recent update now provides an HD option. So to me comcast on demand is just another streaming service for the the channels I pay for (boradcast+cspan) as well as the channels I don't (almost all the basic cable ones like BBCA and comedy central) as well as HD quality which I also didn't sign up for/pay for.

    So I guess I'm the one really being subsidized.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mschaffer (97223) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:56PM (#45170645)

    Cable subscribers are subsidizing sports.
    Comcast owns sports teams. The teams ask ridiculous amounts of money for broadcast rights. Comcast passes the cost on to their customers.
    And then their's ESPN....
    I often wonder what cable would cost if I didn't have to subsidize the sports franchises.
    The same goes for my local taxes.
    Imagine if the sports teams had to pay for their own stadiums?

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      Imagine if the sports teams had to pay for their own stadiums?

      That never happens, as since the antiquity, political leaders had known that in order to keep the people quiet, they need to give Panem et circences.

    • by cshark (673578)

      If sports teams couldn't get tax payers to flip the bill for stadiums, there would be fewer stadiums. At least fewer in small towns where the taxes are unsustainable.

  • Mp> ... for what is coming up on 5 years next spring.

    And I haven't looked back.

    I've long since found that the regular networks you'd watch the show on will actually frequently stream many of their most popular shows right on their own website - one usually only has to wait until the day after it has aired to watch it online.

    Okay, so if I do things this way, I'm stuck in their online streaming application (invariably flash-based for the desktop, or else a native app for mobile viewing), and I'll sti

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday October 18, 2013 @07:15PM (#45170767)
    that Cable TV companies wont be jerked around

    recently my cable provider had Turner Networks cut them off of several channels because my cable provider refused to accept a 50% increase of charges for access, so my cable provider has several blank channels where Turner Network channels once occupied, things like CNN & Headline News, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, (Turner's programming), a few empty spots once occupied by Turner's channels already been filled with other programming,

    the point i am trying to make is by allowing streaming video content on cable internet shows providers like CNN that they are not the only method of content distribution (competition)
  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:43PM (#45171273)

    Most of what I watch is free and legal. In theory, it is advertiser supported, since there are commercials if I watch shows in the evening. Yet if I watch late at night, I rarely even see a commercial.

    In my mind, that doesn't make sense. Advertising is a way to generate revenue, so forgoing advertising late at night seems like a lost opportunity. It is not as though advertising is inherently bad either. I am perfectly fine with advertising in moderation (i.e. less than half of what is on broadcast TV) and if it reflects the content rather than the consumer (i.e. I don't like tracking). To the unnamed broadcaster who is streaming the unnamed shows to me: you are welcome to generate some revenue from my viewing habits. Be reasonable about it so that you don't alienate me in the same way that over the air broadcast TV or cable TV channels have alienated me, but I do respect your right to earn money for the services rendered.

    I do pay for one fee based streaming service. Their model doesn't make sense either. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity to watch series and movies for a flat fee. I appreciate the ability to do so regardless of how much I watch. Most of all, I appreciate that I can do so without advertising. Yet all of that appreciation reflects lost opportunities for the service provider. Now that doesn't mean that I'm willing to hand over huge globs of money and put up with copious amounts of advertising. That is what drove me away from broadcast and cable TV in the first place. But I do respect your right to earn reasonable amounts of money for the services provided.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't want to be gouged. When it comes to television, I have demonstrated that. I have never subscribed to cable or satellite TV. I don't want to be abused either. Again, I have demonstrated that since I have rarely watched over-the-air broadcasts. Yet there is a world of difference between not wanting to be gouged and not wanting to have one's time wasted (via advertising) and being willing to provide reasonable compensation for services provided. I am willing to provide reasonable compensation, according to my definition. I am also willing to go without if it isn't reasonable by my definition. This is TV after all. I can do without it. That's a bit unlike the Internet.

  • When HBO refuses to sell the GoT matroska files, implying that people who want DRM-free media should pirate instead, the pirates don't call that "subsidy." The word is "stupidity." HTH.

  • That is how I am doing it now. I record OTA to my DVR and computer. Internet for the rest.

  • What controls the prices of services like Netflix is piracy, not cable TV subscribers. If there was no piracy Netflix would be a lot more expensive and so would be cable TV subscriptions.

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