Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do you pay for cable TV? If so, you're INSANE!

I know the vast majority of you pay for cable television and that you are obviously not insane, but give this blog article a chance and let me know what you think:

In 2006 I purchased my first house. In having no clue what I could/could not afford, I decided to play it safe and only spend money on necessities until I could figure it out. Do I like watching TV? Yes. Do I need it? No. So purchasing cable TV was not an option at first. Is there anything that I could do to watch TV without paying for it.... legally? Yes! Thanks to the Federal Government, in 1927 they created the Radio Act of 1927. As long as station owners (ABC, NBC, CBS, etc) promise to make their programming available to the public for free, the FCC will license them spectrum to operate in as well as allow them to use commercial advertising as a way to earn money. Anyone ever hear of "bunny ears?" That's what this is. If you have an antenna, you can receive over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting for free. In 1996 Congress gave station owners additional broadcast channel for each TV station in order to deliver a digital broadcast in addition to their analog broadcast. In 2009, Congress set a deadline for all station owners to stop broadcasting analog signals, which not only freed up spectrum, but guaranteed that all TV stations are broadcasting over-the-air in digital only. So as long as you have an HD television with a built in tuner and an antenna, you have free HDTV.

You don't need an HDTV antenna; this is a marketing ploy. I use the basic $10 RCA antenna you can get at Best Buy. Depending on where you live, you really only need to determine the distance and direction between your house and the broadcasting station. The TV Fool link below will help you determine that. If you are close to the city, you're fine, but it does rely on line-of-sight, so if you're in an apartement building next to a huge building, you may be out of luck. If you so choose to install an outdoor antenna, you can also rewire your cable that's ran inside your home to all share the same antenna.

In addition to receiving some of the basic channels for free, there are several online streaming options available today that have plenty of content. Hulu is free (although it is currently being reported that the shared owners are currently taking bids to sell it). Hulu Plus and Netflix are $8 per month. Amazon Instant Video is an option. RedBox is trying to enter the online streaming market for movie rentals. HBO is currently considering offering HBO Go, their online streaming service, without a cable subscription (currently it requires one). My point - there are plenty of online streaming services that some of which certainly have the content that you enjoy.

With all of that said, there has been a recent twist in this space which coincides with this weeks readings. A company called Aereo is changing the game of OTA television and quite possibly cable television.  Essentially, they're renting people antennas so that they can watch live OTA television being streamed online instead of physically connecting their antenna to their TV. It's remarkably ingenious.  You see, cable companies have to pay station owners retransmission fees since they're retransmitting the signal, but Aereo does not have to pay anything because they're not technically retransmitting the signal.  They're abiding by the law, albeit a loophole. They'll charge a small monthly fee for online access, which is not only convenient for most users, but will allow people who don't live close to the city another option. The district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit have already denied the station owners injunction against Aereo.  The executive leaders at Aereo capatilized on innovation, one of the 11 intangible assets in the "Capatilizing on Capabilities" article.  In the "Competing Through Organizational Agility", they mentioned that within the strategic type of agility, your organization needs to possess patience and boldness.  Well there's no doubt that this was a bold move to challenge the cable companies, and they're being patient while waiting for the courts to come to a decision instead of folding when all of the major cable companies filed suit.  Finally, the "Does Your Organization Have the Capability to Execute Strategy" article says that a lot of organizations lack the ability to identify capabilities to execute strategy.  All of these major cable companies could have found this loophole themselves if they would have searched for it.  They lacked innovation and thinking outside the box to protect themselves against something like this.  Now they're paying for it.  They failed to execute one of their own strategies, assuming that they have them.

I have hosted numerous live sporting event parties where the game has been displayed via OTA. The most common reaction that people have when I tell them my setup is "what? that's free?! It's crystal clear!" Needless to say I never ended up getting cable (or satellite). 7 years of free TV. Using a PC with a TV Tuner card in it connected to an HDTV without an integrated HD Tuner, I am able to record and playback shows just like a DVR. Do you still think that you need cable? Try cutting the cord and use OTA + online streaming. I guarantee that you'll find a way to save money and not lose out on much, if anything.

1 comment:

  1. Joe,

    You've got my juices flowing after reading your article. I'll report back too you in a few days to let you know how this went.

    Again, thanks for this insiders secret. Damn! I'm locked in my current contract with a cable company that will remain nameless. If this little experiment goes as plan, I'll be dumping cable and switching to this new and free plan.


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