Without any context the term “cord cutting” is a bit gross but in reality it’s a beautifully difficult idealist term. The cord being cut is the cable cord – cancelling cable or satellite at your home. Being a cord cutter is filled with struggle and triumph. Cord cutting, in my mind, is about ridding ourselves of the big cable providers and their hefty fees, as much as possible – not simply about watching TV.
Some of you may not know this but the major television networks broadcast their shows over the air (OTA) for free. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, TBS, and a few others do this today. All that’s needed is a device with an antenna/TV tuner to pick up the signal. A good example of how OTA works is the old TV show where the drunk dad is fiddling with the antenna on his TV because he’s not getting signal any more. That antenna is pulling the TV show down and he’s watching for free. We’ve since started broadcasting these shows in HD so free TV is in even better quality.
The internet plays a crucial part in the success of cutting the cord (only furthering the evidence that the internet is a utility). Often there’s only one cable/internet provider in your home/apartment so you would still have to put up with big bad Comcast. At least now they’re not taking all of your money. Here’s a simplified step-by-step from Cord Cutter Guide for cutting the cord.
With a combination of digital content providers and OTA TV there are very few shows you’ll miss out on. If you don’t mind avoiding spoilers, most shows come out on Netflix and Hulu relatively soon after airing. Even the big players that don’t broadcast OTA like MTV allow you to stream content from their sites. You’ll never miss an episode of Catfish again.
A company called Aereo tried their best to capitalize on the free OTA content that TV tuner and antennas can pick up. They setup a large network of antennas (one per subscriber) and allowed people to stream live TV from any device. Subscribers were even able to record shows for later while watching another. Granted the only shows available were those OTA shows but if you lilke NBC’s The Voice or Blacklist then you’re in good hands. PC Mag does a much better job explaining how Aereo’s business model works. Aereo faced a lot of backlash from these large networks and a big lawsuit. Their case was brought in front of the supreme court for “rebroadcasting” content illegally. They ultimately lost and put an away message on their website.
I do see cord cutting as the “way of the future”. Many Americans have already started taking the necessary steps whether they realize it or not. Streaming TV from bed or binge watching Netflix on the weekend are slowly making this an acceptable lifestyle. What’s next? We can only speculate. Our goal should be to break free from the hold these Goliaths have on us.
In my next post I’ll explain my experiences and struggles with cutting the cord.