I Pay $7 Per Hour to Watch TV?Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I’m what you would call TV ignorant. I don’t know what cable channels I have, I don’t care, and I never remember what channel is what each time I turn the bloody thing on. I watch the local Detroit news at 10pm sometimes, Judge Napolitano on FOX Business News when I can, or occasionally, a movie, musical, or documentary. Otherwise, my 36″ Samsung LCD exists only for the purpose of playing DVDs – movies and documentaries – and hooking up my computers and electronic devices for a big screen view.
I’m the kind of person who occasionally presses a wrong button or two on one of the three remotes and the TV screen goes blue. It takes me three days of randomly pressing buttons, as I find the time, before the picture comes back. Now I’m not a technology idiot – just the opposite. I can multi-task on several electronic devices at once without skipping a beat or burning the green beans and almond slivers in the wok behind me. I once overcooked my grape tomatoes to the point where they looked like shriveled mini-blueberries (the kind found in kid’s cereals) because I was working on my website so intensely. For the most part, I end up teaching people how to use their computers and smart phones, along with all the tools and apps they don’t know a thing about. But TV remotes seem to present peculiar problems for me.
Not too long ago, I didn’t have cable because I didn’t have a TV. My old-fashioned Toshiba (people made fun of it!) turned up its toes, and wouldn’t you know it happened as I was watching a Detroit Red Wings game? I thought my dogs had sat on one of the remotes, causing the snow disarray and blue line wiggle-thingies that came dancing across the screen. Several attempts at juggling 3 remotes and all of the buttons that seemed important made no difference at all. A house call from the TV man got it fixed for $160. The second time it petered out (just out of warranty repair, of course), it bit the big one. Another house call to take a look at the expired patient showed no heartbeat, and Mr. Toshiba was pronounced dead on the spot. He was carried to the curb where some garbage picker took him home for a potential pacemaker.
Some time passed without a box in the house until I broke down and got a Samsung LCD. I had missed watching movies and documentaries on something other than a computer. This TV is a dream team along with my 20-year-old Bose AM5 Series II speakers. And so the cable bills started coming again.
So, forward ahead. I get another $90 bill this month (bundle for TV and Internet + DVR + cable modem) in the electronic mailbox, and I realize, again, that I am sick of paying $1,000 a year for crap I don’t watch. So I call Wide Open West and try to finagle a cut in my bill, and they reminded me that I already receive a monthly discount that is $5 over the maximum discount …… which is the discount I asked for last time I called. Yeah, I do remember. That was the last time I got sick of my cable bill, back in August 2010. Occasionally I seem to have these “why am I wasting my money on this?” moments when these bills arrive in my email and I start slashing. So each time I get agitated I calculate my approximate cost per hour of TV watched which is $70 (approximate TV portion of monthly cost) / 10 hours per month = $7 per hour, and that seems a bit overpriced to me. So I call WOW and tell them the price is unacceptable and I tell them I need to cut the cost.
According to the latest Nielsen ratings, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week, and that puts their cost of TV at .52 per hour if they are paying the same rate as me. I suspect that someone is not being fiscally responsible here, and that someone appears to be me. The gal on the phone tells me I can move down one package, cut out 50+ channels, and save a whopping $10.50 a month. For 20 cents/channel, I’ll just keep them just in case I ever want to watch more TV at some point. But cutting back to the cheap-ass package would cut a whole bunch of channels off – I mean, who cares, except one of them is FOX Business. I can’t cut Judge Napolitano’s show! I often catch the Judge on the ‘Net, but if I am home, I like to have him on the tube. Plus there’s the Bloomberg channel, which is a decent channel when I don’t have a Sirius receiver around or when I need a break from podcasts. Even worse, when the WOW customer service lady suggested we could cut my bill by dropping the Internet speed (horrors!), I almost had a spaz moment. Don’t touch my junk or my Internet.
So I started to look at the channels I have available to me. I had no idea there was a Lifetime Real Women channel. Is that the former Lifetime channel (castoff chick flicks) on Oprah dust? The last I remember about that channel, Jaclyn Smith was doing about 10 movies a month, and each time her character was raped or beaten or discriminated against by some evil man. The Word Network sounds interesting, but I have no idea what it is. Is it a vocabulary channel for word geeks? The Military Channel? – I’ll pass. The Hitler Channel has all I need should I want to cheer on Churchill or remember the name of all U.S. WWII battleships.
I keep making these half-baked half-resolutions in late December of each year to watch more TV. I know that sounds backwards, especially for someone who takes great pride in hating television and not making New Year’s resolutions. The gist of that thought is that I am always on the go too much, work too much, task too much, and I am constantly in high gear. Some chill out time is needed. I need to relax and let my brain unbutton. Perhaps I should be watching a soothing TV drama or brainless sitcom at 10:30pm instead of another Gerald Celente or Peter Schiff video predicting the dollar collapse, civil unrest, sweeping bond defaults, massive food shortages, a profusion of bank failures, and a stock market collapse. Those videos might explain why I start writing furiously with blood surging to my temples at 11:00pm instead of going to bed when my alarm is set to go off at 4am.
Maybe I should watch House – he seems cool. Or Detroit 1-8-7. Boston Legal was the only regular show I watched in over 15 years, and it was gone for 6 months before I realized it was off the air. So now I buy the DVDs, and I never have time to watch those either. I suppose it really doesn’t matter because most everything I want to watch is on YouTube, Breitbart, Hulu, Bloomberg, or a gazillion other media and news sites. And most of it is free, with only the occasional, short commercials that tend to be better than the commercials I’ve seen on TV.
On the Internet, there are thousands of channels and there is never nothing on, and better yet, for each gatekeeper who locks down some controversial content, there are a host of others who can’t wait to make that content available. And I figure my Internet costs me about 18 cents per hour at my rates and usage. Now I just have to convince my financial advisor – me – to yank the plug on cable TV once again.