Tech Tuesday: Comcast, Fox and Hulu

You know I have been one of the biggest cheerleaders of cutting the cable cord. It’s difficult with the networks and big cable companies trying very hard to thwart any progress in that area, rather than coming up with ways to embrace the new technology. Netflix, Hulu, Roku’s free channels, TV HD Antenna’s, a computer hooked directly to the TV, all the ways in which many have deployed cutting the cord. (Course, we need to keep the internet!) Hulu appears to now be having to give in to the big boys. How disappointing.

I understand why cable companies have been fighting so hard. They are set to lose a ton of business. It’s their own fault really, with their prices going up, up, up. Every year we get a new notice of price increases. The blame, cable companies say, are the rising costs of content. You know, the dreaded negotiations they go through every year or so, with threats of cutting off channels. They say that, but then, I’m sure their humongous bottom line doesn’t suffer, only our pockets. If it indeed is a huge raise in content fees from major networks, then call their bluff and let them go. Yes, I know the call centers would be inundated with complaints, but what the heck, hold your ground to save our pockets. The content providers will come back. Think of the advertising they would lose in those major markets.

It always amazed me, when I worked for the cable company long long ago, the customers that would call in about the negotiations. I specifically remember the Fox negotiations. First, Fox News wasn’t a part of the negotiation at the time. That channel was to stay on the air regardless, so those complaints were moot. Second, people would say they would take their business elsewhere (Dish, DirecTv or what not) when as soon as the cable negotiations were through, the negotiations would start up with one of the other providers. Now, you would have quit cable, gotten into a contract with a satellite provider with a 1-2 year contract, and still possibly lost the channel they were fighting for, with no way to escape, no threats to leave (without paying a large sum of money.) In addition, the Network and Cable company would put it out there that you would be losing your local channel. Well, with a really cheap antenna, you could just hook it up to your TV and get that for free… so I never understood that argument or threat.

Now, according to the New York Post, Hulu appears to be poised to go by way of the big boys, and turn itself into a platform kind of like “HBO-GO.” Not by choice of course, but again, because of a Network. Fox is currently re-negotiating it’s deal with Comcast in a way that would require Hulu users to prove they already subscribe to Comcast to access it’s content. Basically, users would have to log in to Hulu using their Comcast logins rather than use their Hulu ID to view any content provided by Fox.

There is an easy way around this of course. If you want to watch a Fox broadcast from your local channel, then get a digital antenna. They are as cheap as $20 and then all your local stations are free. Most of what I watch are on those channels anyway. (The Amazing Race, Big Brother, etc.) Get yourself a DVR, Tivo is a good one (although there is a subscription involved, much cheaper than cable still) and watch when you feel like it. You already pretty much have do that with CBS, who doesn’t provide much if any of their content to Hulu, although will stream it on their website the next day.

The big cable companies will be fighting tooth and nail to keep our money, and the content providers will continue to fight for their bottom line as well. Of course they will, they are in the business to make money, no fault in that. Course we are, as we should be, in a fight to keep our own pockets filled as well. The dream of having the cable companies providing you an “a-la-mode” selection of channels will never happen, so you can give up that dream. Will the Premium channels ever provide an outside of cable way to subscribe to them? That looks bleak at the moment as well. I’m actually surprised the networks haven’t embraced more the Hulu model, forcing us to watch the commercials we can otherwise skip with our DVR.

Who knows what the future holds. The cable companies and networks will continue to fight all the way… but it will be the people that (somewhat) win this eventually if we demand it. Heck, TV used to be free… remember that? The companies made their money off of advertising (that we are skipping now.) How many times have your strolled through all those channels you pay for thinking “so many channels, nothing to watch” or better yet, perused the channels late at night when you couldn’t sleep and discovered that most of these channels you pay for have turned into very long commercials? Do we really need all these choices? Is it worth $150 to $200 for that one or two shows you like on cable? Let’s do the math on it. Let’s say you watch two shows, on once a week on a cable channel, and let’s say your current cable plan costs $150. Each episode costs you, basically, $18.75. Personally, I think not. I missed them when I first did the cut, and yeah, every once in awhile I miss them still, but for the most part, I’m over it. That’s 3 Venti Vanilla Lattes for me, or a movie night out, PER EPISODE. I’m good with that.

Have you cut the cable cord? Considering it? Leave us a comment below!

2 Replies to “Tech Tuesday: Comcast, Fox and Hulu”

  1. Personally I use my Dish DVR to record and watch all my shows. I mean you do have the option to stream shows online, but newer shows are often unavailable. I used to have cable until I started working for Dish and realized that there are lots more affordable packages with Dish. There’s even Blockbuster@Home for streaming movies and a one disc by mail service that I added to my subscription for only $10 a month. I pay a about 1/3 as much as I was paying cable for my satellite service.

  2. If I were to watch cable news channels I would be persuaded this world is truly going to hell with more corruption in government than any man can possibly content with while also working for a living, and living a good life with family and people of this world who are loved and worthy of my time and attention

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