It was 2004 when I cut the cord from Bellsouth, my local phone company. I got rid of the landline and Internet access, and signed up with Comcast for my Internet access and Vonage for my VOIP phone line. Then a few years later, I cut the “virtual cord” and dropped Vonage so that my mobile phone through AT&T Wireless became my home and work phone. Now for me, and millions of americans, it’s time to consider cutting another cord but this one is a lot more tricky. I’ll explain why.
The cord I’m talking about is the TV or satellite provider. In my case, it’s Comcast who is both my ISP and provider of sports channels such as Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV, ESPN2 and a few hundred other networks that I hardly ever watch. And the fact that I’m only watching a few of the hundreds of channels is key. Why should I pay for channels I never watch, I’m not interested in and that simply clog up bandwidth?
During 2010 I watched most of my programming on either a computer or mobile phone. Before Setanta US closed its doors, I watched most of my games on Setanta-i, its broadband channel where you could watch soccer games each weekend on a really advanced website. Since then, I’ve watched most of the Premier League games on FoxSoccer.tv, ESPN360.com and the FoxSoccer iPhone App. Part of the reason has been ease. As a perfect example, this past weekend I was in Orlando with my family for a weekend getaway. Even though I was a few hundred miles away from my home, I was still able to watch the matches on my mobile phone via the FoxSoccer iPhone App. The ease of access is key. I can now watch games whether I’m driving, in the office, in a different room of the house that doesn’t have the TV, or outside in my backyard.
I still watch Premier League games on television, but far fewer than before.
The predicament I’m in is that there’s really only one thing stopping me from cutting the cord with Comcast and dropping my cable programming (but keeping Comcast as my ISP), and that is Fox Soccer Channel. The Premier League games shown on FoxSoccer.tv feature all of the live games except for the Fox Soccer Channel ones. Those Fox Soccer Channel games are available on FoxSoccer.tv on demand after midnight that day, but that doesn’t help me as I like to watch all of my games live, or slightly on delay (rather than 10 to 12 hours later). Unfortunately I don’t see FoxSoccer.tv adding the live Fox Soccer Channel games anytime soon. To do so would give me and many others out there the ability to drop Fox Soccer Channel completely in favor of FoxSoccer.tv (which would provide you with the games normally on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Plus and more for a much lower rate per month than paying the expensive cable bill).
At the same time, I realize I’m not the norm. Comcast Cable doesn’t offer Fox Soccer Channel HD or Fox Soccer Plus. If they did, I would definitely have to consider whether it would make me stay with Comcast even if FoxSoccer.tv added Fox Soccer Channel’s Premier League matches. But the fact that Comcast has still not added FSCHD or FS+ is a big example of how they’re not helping the situation.
In my household, we also tend to watch a lot of HBO, Nick Jr and Nickelodeon. But the kids have been watching the Nick TV channels less and have instead been watching kids TV shows and movies via Netflix, either through their Nintendo Wii, iPad or, when I let them borrow it, on my iPhone. As for HBO, I tend to watch it more online via Xfinity.tv. If HBO released an iPad app that allowed me to watch all of their programming per month for a set fee, I would definitely consider it, thus cutting out the middle man, my TV provider.
Again, the big roadblock that prevents me from dropping my cable completely is the live games shown on Fox Soccer Channel. On one hand, I can see why soccer fans dropping Fox Soccer Channel in droves would cause panic attacks at Fox where they would be forced into charging lower rates for their advertising because fewer eyeballs would be watching their programming (and thus TV adverts), but at some point in the distant future the economics will change where Fox Soccer Channel themselves would be able to make more money by getting a flat $15/month fee from hundreds of thousands of subscribers across the United States who want to watch their programming on their computer and mobile devices.
Ideally, right now at least, I’d like to have a subscription to Fox Soccer Channel HD where I could watch my soccer games in beautiful HD on my big screen TV and then have the choice to watch the other games on my laptop and/or mobile phone. Currently I don’t have that choice which makes my urge to cut the cord even more urgent. I could cut the cord today if I wanted to watch games illegally, but I prefer not to because I’m a firm believer that the licensee holders (i.e. Fox Soccer Channel in the United States) should receive the money since they’ve paid such a huge amount of money to bring the games to us. Without them, we’d be royally screwed. So, instead, I’ll bide time and hope that either Comcast adds Fox Soccer Channel in HD or that FoxSoccer.tv decides to add live Premier League games from Fox Soccer Channel. Unfortunately I don’t see either of those options happening anytime soon.
Recommended reading: A wish to dump the dish in 2011 by Dave’s Football Blog.