CUT THE CORD? The new Era of Content Consumption
Cord cutter. No clue what that is? Not to worry, many people don’t. It refers to those who have stopped paying for cable tv. Of course, they haven’t given up on tv, they’ve just given up on the crazy prices telcos and cable companies charge. Instead, they stream all their content so they only watch the shows they want on their own schedule.
How do you become a cord cutter and what’s the downside? To start, you need to decide if you want to watch shows on your TV or a tablet or computer. If you stick with TV, then you’ll need to get a streaming box, a.k.a., an internet appliance. Examples are AppleTV, Roku, or Android Boxes (a general term used for Android-based options). AppleTV and Roku use apps that you can watch shows on. Some of the content is free but Netflix, TMN, Sportsnet, or HBO require a subscription. The Android Box, on the other hand, offers to stream without a subscription. This however, is in the grey area of legality. Both Rogers and Bell have gone to court to stop sales of steaming boxes due to copyright infringement. While the courts have had different rulings, there is not one right answer. In the past, copyright law in Canada included downloading content but didn’t define streaming. So the jury is out, and since this is not a legal column, I’ll advise you to check with a lawyer if you want to know a definitive answer.
Now, what do you lose out on if you cut the cord? Local news and programming, many live sports events (which aren’t easy to steam) and the 8 –10% discount you get for bundling communication services.
With all that being said, television providers are adapting. Prices for internet are going up and prices for TV service are going down. Companies like Bell and Rogers hope that once you compare their services to the combined monthly subscription costs for Netflix, HBO and others, you’ll conclude it’s easier and cheaper to just keep what you already have. At the end of the day, the truth is, as consumers we should welcome competition … especially when the result is a reduction in the price of cable tv.