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Cable by any other name

A few years ago, like many other people our age, my wife and I decided to “cut the cord” and cancel our cable subscription. For a young couple with our income, we felt it was a financially responsible decision to put the money we were spending toward other expenses.

The adjustment was a challenge, at first. At the time, Netflix was the only streaming service we subscribed to and, although it had a vast content library, it didn’t have everything. The 2016 U.S. elections had hooked us onto CNN, which was no longer available to us. Likewise, as an avid NBA fan, I felt a gaping hole in my basketball intake. We also struggled to find ways to watch new episodes of our favourite shows, whether they were on network channels (The Good Place, Black-Ish) or cable (Veep, Insecure).

But we did adjust, and we are currently happy with our decision to cancel cable. Last year’s release of a revamped Crave (which includes HBO and Showtime) was a lifesaver, and between it, Netflix and Amazon Prime, we find we have access to pretty much every new show, as well as catalogues of old favourites. When we do find a show that isn’t carried by any of the three streaming platforms, we’re happy to shell out a few dollars for a season pass on iTunes and stay caught up that way. We can catch up on late night clips from Seth Meyer and Stephen Colbert on YouTube, and thanks to my in-laws’ Shaw To Go login, I’m even able to get my basketball fix.

Right now, we find this arrangement to be well within our means, but changes to how streaming works are looming, and I anticipate that will mean some hard choices.

In November, Disney will release its own platform, Disney+, to include the company’s existing catalogue along with new, original material. In anticipation, Disney has been pulling its content, including Marvel and Pixar films, from Netflix. We’ll need to decide if it’s worth a subscription once the service comes to Canada later this year.

Netflix has also lost the rights to The Office, one of our most watched shows. Earlier this year, it was announced that the show would join other NBC content on the network’s upcoming service Peacock – no word on its availability in Canada.

Apple, as well, is planning its own streaming service.

We like to stay up to date on new TV, and it’s looking like that will eventually require subscriptions to at least five platforms – increasing the amount of money we’re spending on television services every month. And, at a certain point, that means cord-cutters like us will find ourselves basically back with an expensive cable package, only under a different name.




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Ben Sherick

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