“Thank you for calling DirecTV, and thank you for being a loyal customer since 2004! How may I assist you today?”
“I’m calling to close my account.”
It took some doing. After being transfered to a specialist in such matters, who tried to tempt me with such things as a six-month discount, a new TiVo box when they become available, a free premium channel or two, and so on, they finally did disconnect the account.
When asked why, I was armed with:
- Their migrating all HD services away from my HR10-250 TiVo DirecTV receiver
- Their continuing inability to deliver a new TiVo model years after the first offered “release date”
- Being forced to pay for hundreds of channels when I only ever rarely watch half a dozen
Call me a TiVo fanboy if you like; I won’t dispute it. I’ve just never been entirely happy with the user experience of the DirecTV models and DirecTV’s insistence on lobotomizing the TiVo software to get rid of streaming and sharing features.
Nearly everything Jane and I watch (Jeopardy, Glee, The Mentalist, House, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) is available free over the air. Our home is spittin’ distance from the transmitters on Mt. Wilson — I could get the signals with a paper clip stuck in the antenna port, but I have an antenna in the attic.
So my DirecTV bill of some $90/month would get me an occasional glimpse at the Daily Show, the Weather Channel, Conan on TBS, rarely CNN, and NASA-TV. DirecTV pulled ESPN and the local Fox sports channels from the HR10-250 in HD, so I never even bothered with the games there.
Everything else we might want to watch (Entourage, Saving Grace, Big Love) is either available on disks or streaming. I’ve long since lost the need to see a show the night it’s broadcast.
Now in place of my DirecTV receivers, I have a pair of TiVo Premiere models. I put an XL model in the living room home theater and the standard model in the bedroom. I’ve had enough experience with TiVo to know that I should go ahead and buy the lifetime service subscriptions for both boxes. The total bill was roughly equivalent to 13 months of DirecTV.
I’m tickled with the new TiVos. I love how they work to download a rented (or purchased!) movie from Amazon. The RSS feed support is going to be fun — Jane’s What’s Up podcast will just appear in the Now Showing queue. I love being able to share recorded shows between the two boxes. (But not downloads, why TiVo?)
It’s also fun to see what the local broadcasters are doing to make use of their digital bandwidth. KTLA is using sub-channel 5.2 to market their library of classic TV using the moniker Antenna TV. It’s like having a free version of Nickelodeon on hand (Mad About You, Gidget).
Just before I wrote this, I did a Google search, “life without cable,” yielding 11,600,000 results. Interestingly, the first page of results all seemed to imply that giving up cable meant giving up network programming as well. Not one of them mentioned the bounty that was available in free over-the-air broadcasting.
I have every reason to believe that our deprivation will be barely noticed and short-lived, and I’m happy to do my part to disrupt the MVPD business model. Give me a la carte programming choices and I could change my mind.
And of course if Verizon were to install FiOS in my neighborhood ….