Image credit: JESHOOTScom on Pixabay / CC0 / Public Domain
Cord-cutting is the phenomenon when people cancel their television subscription (cable or satellite) in favour of watching on demand via internet. I haven’t had a TV subscription in the last 20 years or so and with the new developments in media I’m re-evaluating my choices.
Pros and Cons of Streaming Services
The reason why cord-cutting has become popular is because live TV now has very good -and cheap- alternatives. You can binge watch content: entire seasons get published, allowing you to watch whenever it is convenient. They offer a lot of content for a low price: €10.99 for Netflix in The Netherlands currently versus €17,50 for cable. For that cable subscription you get access to 60 channels broadcasting mostly garbage. Looking at it that way, ditching cable in favour of streaming services is a no-brainer.
But streaming services also have downsides. Content will be taken off-line as soon as the license expires. It’s very hard to know when this happens. You could be in the middle of a season of your favourite series to find out it has been pulled from the catalogue one month later. Also, it takes a very long time before new seasons are available. One year (or longer) isn’t at all uncommon. Good luck trying to avoid spoilers on social media!
In Europe, it’s entirely possible to lose access to whatever you are watching when you cross a border because of geo-blocking. I can’t watch the second season of The Shannara Chronicles on Amazon Prime Germany despite having an account with them. I have to physically travel to Germany in order to be able to watch season 2 with my existing German Amazon Prime account. The same is true for Dutch TV channels: as soon as you leave the country, you lose access to the channels paid for by your taxes. You can’t always rely on internet services for TV.
Reconnecting with local society through live TV
The main reason I’m looking into getting live TV again, is that I want to break out of my own individualist bubble. I can’t tell you what is going on in my city or my province. I don’t consume local media because I have to seek them out using my internet browser to stream.
For the same reason I also lost touch with my German roots: the only German I hear is from German students passing by on the streets or in stores. When I still lived with my parents we would watch German TV almost exclusively, I listed to a local German radio station tailored to my age while doing my homework. Although we weren’t living in Germany, I knew what was going on there listening to the news and the DJ’s banter. I miss that.
Loss of common experiences
Having access to content that is relevant to you, paired with the option to completely ignore other streams of information as if they never existed isn’t a healthy development in society. People have a tendency to befriend like-minded people and consume media they already agree with. A lowered tolerance for other opinions could be partly contributed to this behaviour.
When I was connecting to like-minded internationals in my new town, I realised my reluctance to step out of my bubble. I only use Dutch when I have to and prefer having internationally oriented friends over Dutch friends. But I do live here. I do have the passport, therefore every assumes I’m nicely integrated in Dutch culture. But I’m not. Not really. I now realise that knowing the local culture and being able to connect to local people is of mutual benefit. Even if it means that I consume low-quality media from time to time.
How about you? Have you ditched cable? Do you still watch analogue TV? How do you prevent yourself from being locked up in a individualist bubble?