Thinking Tech

Turning off cable and going with Internet video

Turning off cable and going with Internet video

Posting in Technology

Strange that penny-pinching me hasn't looked into this. Free online shows could push $137 in cable charges right off the Comcast bill. I would like to hear from anyone who's unplugged cable and gone to the Internet for TV content. by John Dodge

Videos have emerged as the main Internet activity and that carries big implications about we spend time and money.

Since 2006, video use has more than doubled, according to a research report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Sixty-two per cent of Internet users have watched online videos and fully a third have watched a TV show or movie online.

And Internet video is growing across all age groups although not surprisingly, penetration is deeper among younger folks. The enabler, high-speed broadband, is now used in 63 per cent of America's homes.

Now, I look at my Comcast bill and see charges for BOTH Internet access AND cable TV. What if I hooked my computer up to my TV or hooked my TV directly to the Internet? Indeed, the Pew reports says 23 per cent of Internet TV show and movie watchers have hooked a computer up to their TV.

Or I could do what my kids do: watch TV shows on a laptop. That's sort of solitary, but my wife's viewing habits and mine are somewhat different meaning we often find ourselves in different rooms.

No doubt, going to the Internet for TV content requires adjustment, but many shows I get via cable can be found on Hulu.com or on their originating networks' web sites. Full episodes of the latest Office and Daily Show episodes are online. So's Conan and Letterman.  Sports might be a problem, but news certainly wouldn't be. CSI has Internet episodes and American Idol has recaps.

Lordy, I must sound old. My college-aged kids have been watching online movies and TV shows since they became available on the web in a half dozen years ago. Strange that penny-pinching me hasn't looked into this. Free online shows could push $137 in monthly cable charges right off the Comcast bill.

Of course, there are trade-offs. Comcast DVR allows me to fast forward through ads. Online makes me watch them. I can get full screen online, but I am not sure about HD (can't get The Daily Show in HD any way). Will there be download latencies? Some Hulu broadcasts are herky jerky even with Comcast broadband.

My computer savvy son is arguing against jettisoning cable just yet. He fears load times and difficulty getting sports. Naturally, he wants both. He doesn't pay for it.

I found a site that offers eight different ways to replace cable. Other sites say free Internet content could doom satellite, cable and DSL. Then there's Internet broadcasting itself which offers original programming and TV content.

I would like to hear from anyone who's unplugged cable and gone with the web for TV content.

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure