As I prepare to leave cable TV behind, I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane. I feel cable left me way before I left cable. There have been several low moments, but I can say that when the History Channel showed the Planet of the Apes, I was at a loss.
I grew up in the late 1970’s… in Detroit, the last major metropolitan area in North America to be without cable TV. I was nurtured on the three major networks, plus two re-run laden independent stations, the Canadian Broadcasting System across the river and occasionally, if I used the ‘fine tune’ nob, two of the three network stations from Toledo.
I bordered the suburbs, which were awash in cable-y goodness. WGN from Chicago, showing Cubs games. (The Cubs were only slightly less awful than the Tigers back then.) ESPN showing Aussie-Rules football. And of course, WTBS which had shows that started :05 minutes after everyone elses. Basic cable was captivating. And then there were the ‘movie channels’. Only the rich folks had the Cable Channels!
I had left home and gone to college before Detroit was wired for cable, but as soon as I had my own place (along with three roomates), we gladly coughed up 10 bucks a month for all the channels we could get. That price steadily grew, along with a bewildering array menu plans, all of which usually meant paying more and more per month.
About ten years ago, as the internet exploded, cable began to provide better internet connectivity than the telephone company. And its that very reason that will lead me away. Aside from the occasional live sporting event and a handful of original sci-fi programs, my cable dollar is fueling an unending stream of repeat programming. Some channels have nothing but re-runs of re-runs of re-runs. Internet specific programming is growing, is original, seems more creative and can be watched at will. Take that DVR!
I’m looking forward to moving my viewing habits into non-linear mode and will eagerly watch as marketing practices follow.