Are We Over Pay TV? DirecTV Lost Subscribers For The First Time Ever

Have you been staring sullenly at your cable or satellite bill, wishing you maybe didn’t have to pay so much for TV anymore? Seems some customers are getting turned off pay-TV services, as DirecTV says it’s finally losing subscribers for the first time, with a downturn of 52,000 customers between April and June. It added 26,000 customers in the same time frame last year, which is the toughest time of the season for luring in new customers.

It’s not just DirecTV, either, notes the Associated Press: As a whole, consumers’ enthusiasm toward pay-TV seems to be waning. Comcast did okay, reporting reduced losses, whereas Time Warner Cable announced it leaked a personal record of 169,000 subscribers in the second quarter.

Plenty of students leaving school and customers who head to summer homes cancel their TV subscriptions right in that second quarter, which makes the time period a sad one overall for TV companies for the last two years.

Even if satellite and cable companies make up for the weak period with gains at other times of the year, it’s not enough and isn’t rising as the population grows. This could mean we’re just sick of paying for TV or are unable to afford it, and are turning to cheaper streaming methods online. That’s something cable and satellite providers have been increasingly worried about, as Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon start to offer cheaper options for fulfilling our entertainment needs.

We’re sure some customers will need to have their cable and satellite remotes pried from their cold dead hands, but this loss in subscribers might just signal a pretty significant sea change in how we get our TV kicks.

Whether you’ve fled to the loving arms of streaming online TV or are considering a move, feel free to let your grievances against (or praise for) pay-TV fly in the comments.

DirecTV loses subscribers for first time in 2Q [Associated Press]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Guppy06 says:

  2. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i cut directv out of my life over a year ago and have greatly enjoyed the savings. i haven’t missed the programming i cannot obtain online or via Roku nearly as much i expected to.
    the easier it gets for people to legally obtain programming from other, less expensive, sources, the more people i expect to cut the cord

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      If Netflix, Amazon On Demand, Vudu, and the other VOD services provided closed captioning, I’d probably cancel pay TV tomorrow. But as it is, I watch a lot of TV when at least one other member of our household is asleep, and I rely on CC to follow the dialog when it gets quiet. >:|

      • wickedpixel says:

        you could try investing in some wireless headphones.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        netflix has a bunch, but not all of their content set for closed captioning on several streaming devices – pretty sure that includes the ps3 [i don’t have one to test] and the roku2 series. original rokus were left out in the cold.
        amazon is not on board with that yet and drawing a lot of ire over it.

  3. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    That’s because I got tired of the bullshit fee crybaby acts. Cut the cord and haven’t looked back. Other than live Olympics, I’m good.

  4. Upthewazzu says:

    I have DirecTV and enjoy it a lot. In fact, I just signed a 1 year contract to get NFL Ticket for free. So uh, not sure what this has to do with the article, but…yeah.

  5. padarjohn says:

    At $80+/mo for the equivalent of “extended basic” cable TV, DirecTV got too expensive for me. I built a MythTV box from an old PC, a decent graphics card, and an HDHomeRun box and now I get my programming free over the air.
    $1,000/yr just to watch TV? Not worth it.

  6. Costner says:

    I’m with Dish, but my non-contract, contract ends in October. At that time I’m killing it and I’m moving on with OTA broadcasts and Netflix. I will probably add either Apple TV or a Roku box along with Amazon Prime and/or Hulu Plus, but considering about 70% of my viewing comes from Netflix now… I don’t anticipate missing out on anything.

    • Jordan says:

      I dropped Comcast a year ago for a Roku box and would recommend Amazon Prime over Hulu Plus. Hulu is $8 a month with an ever increasing amount of commercials. Amazon prime has no commercials and free 2 day shiping on stuff from Amazon which you can share with 4 other Amazon accounts.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i find that hulu plus is the easiest way to get recently broadcast tv. i also have amazon prime, i already had it for the shipping. i like them both, but they have differing benefits. the hulu plus interface on roku is marginally improving over time but still tends to freeze up regularly

  7. HomerSimpson says:

    So no doubt the rest of the subscribers will have to make up the ($) difference

  8. italianchick says:

    dish, direct tv etc. charge a huge fee per month and with hbo, showtime, max the movies all stink. nothing exciting these days.
    they keep raising their rates, but as a customer i get nothing more in return. rental fees, channels fees, movie channels all add up for me about $105.00 per month. ridiculous.
    i wish they would go al la carte. so i could choose my own custom channels. i only watch about 7 channels with satellite.

  9. Deep Cover says:

    DirecTV is very expensive. Unless they significantly reduce prices they will continue to see subscriber erosion. I am going to “stay” b/c I am a HUGE sports fan. But this $140/mo. pricetag is rather extreme.

  10. mulch says:

    Don’t forget global warming impact-extreme weather equals more heavy thunderstorms, which have the annoying habit of forming during prime time. Paying for pixelation is not something folks want to do in this economy.

  11. TheAnnonymousActivist says:

    I’ve been cable free for a little over a two years now. I followed the lead of a Doctor at my job. I was always complaining about how high the bill was & how channels kept disappearing from my package but the price was raised about every 3-6 months on Comcast. The last straw was when I had a basic expanded package that kept shrinking & my bill was $164.20 for one month. No premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Max, Starz) in sight but my bill was higher than the light bill & phone bill combined. I wanted in I had to know his secret. I decided that if this doctor who makes 5 x’s what I make is not paying a cable bill then neither am I. Now I have a Roku box, Netflix, a Clearstream II antenna, & AT&T wireless. All those combined cost me less than the cheapest plan on Comcast. P.S. Comcast sucks!!!!

  12. Blueskylaw says:

    It seems that the record profits quarter after quarter and year after year that the cable and satellite companies came to expect has finally hit the pay wall. They can no longer justify charging
    $100-150 a month for cable, and with what I consider a majority of the shows to be reality show manufactured drama trash, it’s not surprising that people are “cutting the cord”.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I also forgot to mention the SEVERELY and EXTREMELY aggravating
      practice of playing commercials DURING the program I’m watching.

      • scoosdad says:

        That above all is driving me away from TV watching. I get that you have to interrupt the program from time to time with ads. TV runs under that sort of business model, always has. But now the ads and promos for other shows are competing for my attention during the programs themselves in various ways.

        When will they realize they’ve killed the goose that lays the golden eggs and it’s too late? Who will be the first smart cable channel to say enough is enough? And which program provider will be leader enough to tell satellite and cable providers– “it’s OK, you can sell any of our channels a la carte, we get it now, it’s what consumers want.”

        I’d sign up for some of those channels first, just to say thanks for looking out for me.

        /soapbox mode

      • Smiling says:

        I used to always feel that if I were paying that much, there should be no commercials.I have to watch way fewer commercials on Hulu Plus than I ever did on cable. So glad I made the switch.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          First, television used to be free – payed for by commercial sponsors. Then they figured out they could charge you while still showing commercials. Then they figured out they can charge you, while still showing commercials and now showing commercials DURING the program.

          What, pray tell, will they figure out next?

  13. longfeltwant says:

    I’d like to be super, super, super clear about this:

    The reason I no longer pay for cable TV service is not because I want to stop paying for television, rather it is because I want to START paying for television. When you subscribe to cable, you aren’t paying for the shows; advertisements are paying for the shows. The price you pay is like the cover charge to get you into the dance club, before your drinks are bought by the guys inside. (The exception is channels like HBO or Playboy, where you are pretty much paying for television, if the shows come without ads.)

    When I cancelled cable and went with Netflix, I *began paying* for television. I pay, then I watch shows. That’s paying for television.

    With cable, you pay, then you watch… advertisements. That’s not paying for television, that’s paying to be a sucker.

    So my complaint with the headline is no, we aren’t “over pay TV”, we are “over commercial TV”.

    • baltimoron says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if TV writers could make full episodes without having to worry about writing in break points for commercials? This is one of the reasons HBO programs are so pleasant to watch.

      • nybiker says:

        That’s true. I remember watching Sopranos on HBO and being very happy that there were no breaks in the flow. When they announced that the show was going to regular tv, well, I thought who’d want to watch it with all the unnatural breaks added as a result of the commercials that would be added? I don’t know the answer to that question. Similar problem with shows like the first Star Trek. Back before 1978 when commercial time was limited to about 10 minutes per one hour, you had few breaks. FF to after 1978 and later, and not only were scenes cut to fit into the 60 minutes with more and more ads, but the breaks just weren’t natural. I recall that SciFi years ago announced that they were going to run the original Star Trek uncut. I thought great, only 10 minutes of ads in the hour! Nope, rather than charging advertisers more to be part of just 10 minutes of ads, they ran each episode at 90 minutes. Well, I didn’t watch. Now I can see ’em on Netflix via streaming.

        BTW, if you still have HBO, I am wondering (since I no longer have any sat/cable account), does HBO put their logo on during the shows/movies? I recall they started with the sports stuff, but I canceled my account a few years ago, so I don’t know what they do now. Thanks.

  14. AtlantaCPA says:

    My question is this: I am an OTA/Netflix/Hulu person but have been wanting to do a DVR. I can’t seem to find a DVR that you just buy and use. They all seem to require a subscription (which I am trying to avoid). Anyone know of a good DVR that doesn’t need a subscription? I know I’m probably missing some obvious answer but it hasn’t been jumping out at me.

    • baltimoron says:

      Probably best to build your own out of an old PC. There are plenty of tutorials out there to help you out.

    • longfeltwant says:

      In the past I used an EyeTV. The limiting element is access to TV listings, which normally you have to pay for, since it is valuable metadata. If you can do with manually programming your DVR, then you can skip the listings and the EyeTV will do what you want. (EyeTV hooks up to a computer, so you’ll need a computer.)

      Otherwise, you could join the growing mass of people who build a home media server. I myself just finished building mine this week. I don’t have mine hooked into cable TV, but I could with the addition of a tuner card. This obviously requires you to be savvy enough to build your own computer, but you could pay a neighborhood kid a couple hundred bucks to do it for you.

    • Abradax says:

      Get a media PC with a decent sized hard drive. But if you use netflix/hulu DVR isn’t needed since it is all on demand. Most of the good OTA shows are available from their respective network’s websites on demand as well. Sure you might need to watch some commercials, but free is awesome.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        Thanks all – Sounds like from all the replies that a media PC is the way to go. I think I can actually do that on my own.

        Abradax – you are right, most of the OTA stuff is available but sometimes the quality is terrible (Fox) and/or it has delayed availability (So you think you can dance). I have gone this far without DVR capability by using netflix and hulu but there have been times I had wished I had something to record with.

        The funny thing is that 20 years ago this would be no problem at all! Not that the technology has gone backward since VHS but it’s just gotten too expensive to pay a subscription.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i still have a working vcr and although i use it as an rf modulator right now, i suspect i could still record a show or two if i needed to. or just to see if it works. the problem is getting affordable tapes!

    • alexwade says:

      If you want the cable channels other than the ones you can get over the air, then your best option is Windows Media Center with the Ceton InfiniTV. Ceton is also making a standalone box that is a modified version of Windows Media Center. You will still have to rent a CableCard, but that is much cheaper than a DVR or cable box. If you build a computer, get a sub $100 AMD HD-6xxx series or HD-7xxx series video card because it is better for video quality. The only other thing you will need is Windows 7; Windows Media Center is a pay add-on in Windows 8.

      You can also get the Hauppage HD PVR and use it as a DVR and it will work with satellite, but it isn’t as functional.

    • pamelad says:

      I bought a Channel Master CM-7000 DVR from eBay. I see the same seller currently has three units available for $370 each. He’s sold bunches of them. I paid less a few months ago, but would gladly pay the current price considering the savings vs. paying $$$ monthly to view TV.

      These units have been discontinued and are manufacturer refurbished. I don’t know of any other DVR that works with just an OTA antenna and no paid services.

      Our CM-7000 functions just fine and is easy to use. No monthly fees, and (at least here) even includes free TV Guide. Not sure about the currently advertised one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Check with the seller if you are interested in that.

      The unit works great if you don’t have cable or satellite (and don’t want them) for recording OTA programming. We like free stuff and happily avoid most monthly fees for home entertainment.

      • icerabbit says:

        Have you run into any issues not getting the TV guide data to set programminging?

        That sounds like a similar setup with the Panasonic units we purchased, one DVDr and one DVDram/r which you’d just hook up to antenna or cable, and they’d get their programming feature through some TV guide data that’s broadcast overnight to one of the public carrier channels.

        The problem we ran into a couple times a year was that we’d no longer have programming ability as that the TV guide would just show blank. Then had to jump through hoops to get support from Panasonic / TWC / TV Guide. Last time was a huge runaround and we couldn’t seem to get it resolved. I suspect TWC boycotting the feature.

        Then came the switch to more HD programming via Clear QAM and now the mandate for Digital Cable Converter boxes ** so we’ve given up on owning a DVR … but, I may have a closer look at the one you mention.

        ** they’ve cut analog and gone all-digital cable here, and are now pushing for all encrypted, so no more clear-qam into the back of the TV

        • pamelad says:

          We have had no issues using the TV Guide to program the unit for recording, and have not seen a blank TV Guide screen. The remote has a button for “Guide,” you select the program you want to record, then hit the record button on the remote.

          I don’t know if your blank screen would be a transmitter issue in your area, one or both of your Panasonic units, TWC or some other factor. You might ask the eBay seller about this. He’s knowledgeable.

          These might be moot points for you, since you use cable (but maybe you and others are thinking of cutting the cord?) The Channel Master CM-7000 is for over-the-air broadcasts received through antenna. Not sure, but I don’t think there’s a cable input.

          BTW, with this unit, we also have no need for a digital converter box. Used to need one for our now-defunct VCR.

      • icerabbit says:

        The CM-7400 sounds like an interesting newer version with bigger hard drive and some apps now. And, yes, it seems to use the free tv guide data that broadcasters are supposed to retransmit.

  15. Abradax says:

    I cancelled my TV service about a week ago.

    I use Roku and Netflix, and got a magic jack (I can’t recommend magic jack enough by the way, so effing crazy awesome)

    TWC wanted to charge me 70 bucks for standard cable, no cable box. I was going to keep pay tv if I could get a bundle for internet and TV for approximately 100 per month, I talked to 4 reps, including retention AND posted on their facebook site. No one was able to help me. So now I have top tier internet and watch my stuff online. 80 bucks per month is WAY better than the 200 per month I was spending for a bundle.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      if you have TWC cable internet and a tv or converter box with QAM tuner, you may still have basic cable anyway. where i live, TWC is unable to separate it from the line for cable internet.

  16. Press1forDialTone says:

    The fees will follow all of you to whatever alternative you go to.
    Count on it.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Once everyone leaves cable and satellite companies and goes to over the air, Roku, Netflix, etc., the fees will go up based upon supply and demand (not to mention pure greed). It’s like squeezing a water balloon; one side gets smaller while the other side gets larger. In the long run you can’t win.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      And don’t expect pay providers to drop prices either…not with shareholders to answer to along with CEO mansions/yachts/private jets to pay for.

  17. sorta savvy consumer says:

    We cut the cord last year, and weaned ourselves with a netflix and hulu subscription. But once the free 6 months of hulu ran out, I cancelled both. Neither had enough content to justify the cost.

    We do live in an area that has very good and very easy to pick up OTA signals. I get the 4 major networks and with my TiVo that works just fine for now.

    My total fixed costs were about $200 for the antenna and TiVo. My ongoing costs are the $20 / mo for the TiVo but that is in line with what I was paying Xfininity (see the marketing is working, I used the right name) before for just the DVR service.

    Biggest complaint I have now is the fragmentation of shows between services. You have some stuff on Netflix, some on Hulu, and then a bunch on the networks own services, some free (on the computer) and some paid.

    The only thing that will bring me back to Netflix or Hulu is when I get back into my treadmill routine, watching old shows made the time fly. But too often I got to the end of a season only to find the next season was not on (Netflix/Hulu) anymore, but for a high price (relative to the content quality of the show) on iTunes or Amazon. I am not going to pay $90 for a season of storage wars.

  18. Rich Wood says:

    Actually, I’m over TV with the garbage graphics all over the screen. First there were dimmed logos in the corner. Now we have brightly colored logos, promotional text either about what I’m watching or some awesome new show. Add animated crap and the program content becomes secondary to useless graphics. I was watching HGTV, formerly a relatively tasteful channel. There were four people on screen. One man’s face was obliterated by text.

    I remember watching the movie “Bent.” Pretty dark moods. As one character electrocuted himself on a concentration camp fence the channel started running bouncing balls to promote an upcoming show. The dramatic impact of the movie was lost

    These annoying promotional graphics have now infected the major networks. Not much to watch there. Reality sucks. Reality TV sucks more.

    While this isn’t the fault of DirecTV or cable, it’s enough to make me seriously consider more quality time with my Roku box and Netflix or Amazon. Whenever I see this garbage I’m reminded how much I’m paying to be irritated.

  19. Biblio Fiend says:

    We dropped U-Verse almost a year ago now for the Netflix/Hulu combo streamed via Xbox and haven’t looked back. We didn’t bother to get an antenna at the time, but I just recently received one as a gift and it absolutely amazes me that we now get an actual HD signal on the major networks, plus additional PBS networks that would only have been available with a very expensive cable package. I get better reception now, for free, than I ever did on U-Verse (not willing to pay an extra $10 a month just for a sharper picture). The best part of all of this is I now know that we’d be able to do without Netflix and Hulu if their price ever gets ridiculous as well. My family watches much less TV now that we no longer feel obligated to turn it on because we were paying so much for it.

  20. Jenny8675309 says:

    we’re just sick of paying for TV and are unable to afford it and are turning to cheaper streaming methods online

    Yup, that’s it in a nut shell.

  21. Fred says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting Dish or DirecTV. Still no broadband where I live. Still I don’t want to pay $70 for the half dozen channels I really want.

  22. SavageFTW says:

    I love my $8 a month Netflix. There is more than enough content. I was going to get OTA for the Olypics but $50 was too much for something I would use for 2 weeks.

  23. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Very apropos article. My Comcast cable bill came in today’s mail. I’ve signed up a dozen times for ebilling, never works, but I guess that’s another story.

    I have digital starter with on demand, voice, and internet. $154.44, but to be fair, includes a $7 modem charge because I didn’t want to buy a modem and then maybe have to buy another one every time Comcast changed something. Another $7.50 is taxes, surcharges, and fees.

    It’s just too expensive. I need a landline, but as other posters have indicated, I could use Magicjack, and just pay for internet only.

    As the recession drags on, and wages stagnate, satellite and cable TV will move more from necessity to luxury.

  24. dush says:

    No pay tv and no smartphone. I save a lot of money but lack the cool factor of having tons of channels and the latest gadget.

    • Smiling says:

      Get a smart phone through Virgin mobile. You pay outright (I got one far better than my G1 for $150.) It’s $35 a month. You can even get an iPhone. We weer with T-Mobile and are now paying 1/2 of what we paid with them with way better phones, that we also paid far less for than with T-Mobile.

  25. frodolives35 says:

    I dropped Direct 8 years ago rabbit ears only now. I signed up for Netflix about 2 years ago and just dropped it last month. They did not add enough new content I was interested in to the streaming and there are just not enough new movies I am interested in, they really lost me when they split the service effectively doubling the price it was just a matter of time. I do have a dvd collection of about 500 titles all bought at yard sales for 1$ each and rent the occasional Redbox movie for 1 night. There are a few decent streaming options for the rare episode of Breaking bad or Walking Dead I use and is great coupled with the 3 networks I get I am doing just fine for about 2$ a month.

  26. Bender6829 says:

    When I got disgusted with my $100 plus bill from DIrecTV, I called them and told them that unless they gave me a substantial reduction, I was leaving. They gave me $20 off a month for a full year with no strings attached.

  27. Torchwood says:

    The only compelling content that the cable and DBS providers have now is the live sports programming. If you know where to look and can afford to wait, TV shows will eventually make it out to DVD, BluRay, and streaming media.

    As evidenced by the recent carriage disputes between AMC/Dish, Viacom/DirecTV, and such, the major cause of rate hikes is the increased carriage fees charged by the channels who write their contracts so that they are carried on certain key tiers. They have the “must-have channels” such as E$PN and tack on some lowly-watched extra channels. As a result, we have a lot of quantity, but not much quality.

    I would have ditched DirecTV a long time ago, however, it is one of the requirements of my rental with the landlord (I pay for rent + cell phone + DirecTV + Internet). But, yes, I see people who look at the cable bill and say “I’m mad as hell, and I not going to take it anymore.”

  28. Robert says:

    Their fees, spam messages (in the ‘Guide’) and relentless marketing is driving a lot of people away.

  29. axiomatic says:

    I’m not over pay TV. I’m willing to pay for what I watch.

    I am however over pay bundled TV.

    “A la carte” or bust.

    • Pickin Grinnin says:

      Exactly. I don’t mind paying for the channels I like, but I do mind having to pay so much for expensive bundles just so I can get those one or two channels.

      I record all the shows I watch to skip commercials, and have no problem watching them after the broadcast season. I don’t keep the TV on for “background noise” anymore, and only watch things that I really want to see (as opposed to watching out of boredom). So, with that in mind…

      I had an epiphany last month. I sat down and made a list of the shows I watch regularly, and the movies I have watched in the last year. I realized that the TV shows I love the most are the original series on HBO, Showtime, and AMC. There are also a small handful of shows from standard cable or broadcast TV that I like, but no more than 10, at most.

      Then I took a look at my Verizon cable package, and tried to see if I could drop it to a lower level and still get the shows I wanted. There is no way to go lower and not lose a few shows. So I started looking at other places to see them.

      Between my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts, other online possibilities (Hulu, network websites, etc.), my public library (which has a HUGE collection of movies and TV show seasons), etc., I’m going to be able to cut out a couple of hundred dollars from my monthly bills, without significantly impacting my TV watching habits.

      Since then, I’ve been working on figuring out exactly what type of setup I want so that I can cut cable completely. I’m dropping my land line, as well, so I’ll just be left with Internet access and my mobile phone. The savings will go straight into my long-term retirement savings. I should have done this a couple of years ago.

  30. jab1981 says:

    I am one of the customers DirecTv recently lost. I became part of the Nextflix/Hulu/Prime contingent. No regrets all at, I went from $110 a month to $16 for Netflix and Hulu.

    Note on sports: I had long wanted to break-up with DirecTv but as a sports fan, I couldn’t find a good alternative…until Mac updated OSX last week, which allowed Air Play Mirroring (Anything that appears on your computer screen, will appear on your TV if you have AppleTV). ESPN and other networks now offer many games online live, which can be streamed in excellent quality to your TV. I streamed a MLB game the other night from ESPN and it looked to be in Hi-def. All of this with a quality HDTV antenna from Amazon…I’m never going back.

  31. Cerealmom says:

    Having only satellite internet,I do not have the option of streaming content for television so I am on the Directv teat for awhile…I just get annoyed when they advertise lower rates and freebies for new customers and neglect us long-timers.

    • BillyDeeCT says:

      It was exactly this that caused me to cancel DirecTV. After being shuffled to different “executive customer service” phone numbers I realized it was like talking to a rock. When I called them to cancel and they asked “what can we do to keep you as a customer” I told them point blank “if you can’t give me HD for free like you’re doing with new customers just cancel my service now.

      … and that was one of the happiest moments in my life! Not giving those criminals my money makes me feel good each and every day!

  32. senafe says:

    I left Directv after 18 years. They cut off my west coast and east coast ABC and NBC channels, yet a friend who is a Directv customer still has his. I don’t like the way I was treated, they gave new subscribers new HD equipment, etc., yet if I wanted even a minor upgrade I would have to pay through the nose! I haven’t missed paying $100 a month and have Netflix, and Hulu via the internet and HD channels free with a low cost antenna.

  33. CrackedLCD says:

    Unfortunately I’m one of those who (when I had DirecTV, before the trees took over) watched a lot of niche channels, so for me a la carte would be very expensive. OTA is a no-go because I don’t watch broadcast networks with their sanitized bland family friendly crap. Well, except Fox, but they’re on VHF here and hard to get so it’s not watchable OTA without an expensive antenna.

    I’ve looked at Hulu and Roku and Amazon Prime but even all together they just don’t have the shows I want to watch. They cater to mainstream tastes that you can get for basically the same cost on basic cable. Blech. (To be fair, I am not an HBO/Showtime snob, I hate their repetitive boring programming as well.)

    Beyond all that, I’d need a new computer because mine’s too slow and old for HD video. So there’s $400 right there, or more. And the HD I’ve seen scaled up to fit my huge TV looks like crap compared to what DirecTV offers. The crappy cable I’m stuck with for now doesn’t even look that good.

    For now HDTV via cable or satellite is still the best looking, most diverse set of programming. And a DVR is essential!

    • jetgraphics says:

      A new computer for HDTV content is far less expensive – if you build it yourself.
      If you can recycle your old hardware, drives, power supply and case, you could probably get the cost down to $120 – $150 range.

  34. Sean says:

    Been without traditional pay TV for about a year and a half. I don’t miss it much at all. It has even been a while since I watched a program on local TV. I watch a few shows on Netflix. Mostly watch programs on YouTube and just spend time with family and go outside and enjoy life.

  35. icerabbit says:

    We downsized to regular cable years ago and then cut back to basic cable, when they started the whole “you need an box per TV” thing because they were switching to digital, plus increases in fees and costs, etc.

    We supplemented with netflix 3dvds out. Trimmed that to 1dvd + streaming for several years and last year trimmed back to streaming only.

    We also use a bit of RedBox and Amazon Prime and recently got a Roku. While the Roku is nice, it needs a bit of an overhaul of its single horizontal channel line UI and we hope they;ll get a bunch more channel options.

    • icerabbit says:

      PS: the cable companies want to kill clear-qam — the HD versions of your channels that come straight into the TV from the cable without a cable box — and get everybody to rent a digital cable converter (mini cable box) per tv; while pushing to upsell for full feature cable boxes.

      When that happens, I fully intend to try OTA with the best antenna we can get, despite being >60 miles from broadcast antennas in hilly terrain.

      • dolemite says:

        I’ve noticed this too. We started losing channels recently, and Comcast said we’d need digital converter boxes to continue watching cable (despite our TVs being 1-2 years old). They said the first 2 are free, then you have to pay. I also subscribe to “digital expanded” which gives me more digital channels. To get digital channels, you need to rent a different box from them. So if I wanted all of the channels I’m paying for, on all my TV’s, I’d have to rent like 4 boxes from them. I still don’t quite understand how I have to dig out of my own pocket for a box to get channels I’m paying for. The boxes should just be provided free of charge when you sign up for digital.

        • icerabbit says:

          We’ve had the bundled channels, various fees, etc for the higher tiers for a long time. Now in their infinite greed it is all about how can we extract more money from people who are not on the higher tiers? Force them to rent a box per TV. Plenty of people have 2-3-4 and more TVs between living room, bedrooms, etc.

          Of course this is all under the guise of anti-theft, better quality signal, more channels over the same bandwidth, less truck rolls etc … All of which are savings to the cable cos that are not passed onto us!

          Instead we lose analog tv, clear qam, record with your own dvr capability, lose the ability to have more than one viewing device in the same room …as they all need a digital converter box and all respond to the same remote!! (I’ve tried it).

          Anyway there are public comments at the FCC proceeding 11-169 regarding encrypting all cable and doing away with clear qam:

          Should you be interested, please comment, by uploading a txt or pdf file letter / comment.

          btw. I sent this issue to consumerist tip line to feature as a consumer oriented issue, but it fell on deaf ears … I guess since it only affects everybody who’s got cable tv.

  36. Starfury says:

    We’ve been with Dish for a few years and don’t have any issues with it. We’ve looked into Direct TV, Comcast, and ATT U-Verse…they’re all more expensive for fewer channels.

    Realistically my household could probably pick 30 channels and get all the shows we (mostly wife/kids) watch.

  37. dotsandloops says:

    Yep. That’s why broadband is the new cash cow for these companies. It costs them about half your monthly rate to provide TV. It costs about 1/10000 of your rate to provide broadband. Pretty sure the cable companies are not crying over consumers “cutting the cord.” If you read this quarter’s earnings statements in full, you’ll see that any TV subscriber losses are more than offset by gains in broadband subscribers. Broadband is pure profit, and seems to make consumers happy.

  38. delicatedisarray says:

    We had DirecTV and then ditched it. We weren’t watching enough TV to justify the cost and most of the channels we were watching we could get over the air for free. On top of that DirecTV’s costumer service was terrible. They made a mess of my (rental) house’s walls and yard. The folks I rent from were ticked off, but thankfully didn’t ding me for it. The tech who did the installation was an idiot and had to call in another tech to help him, who informed him that he was an idiot in front of me. DirecTV was constantly trying to up sale us when they wouldn’t even come out and deal with the complaints both I and the folks I rent from had made. I now have Netflix and what I can get with an antenna. It has been more than enough to keep me satisfied and I have extra money to stick in savings at the end of every month.

  39. duncanblackthorne says:

    About 5 months ago I dumped Comcast cable TV service (had to keep them for internet, though, because there are NO other choices where I live) and built an antenna which I bolted to the side of the house. The transition to local-only channels wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. My expectations of television were never that high to start with, and the extra $60/month in my pocket is more than worth it. There are one or two shows that I have to watch online or pay to get new episodes of, but it’s still cheaper than paying for cable. I haven’t looked back once.

  40. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I liked DirecTV and got good service when I had a problem mostly, but not having a job, I had to suspend it. It comes back on in November, but honestly I think I may ditch it before then. It makes me mad that I can’t get a deal having been with them for so long but new customers can. And even though they have a lower tier of service that is cheaper, it has NONE of the channels I like to watch.

    I’ve been mostly making do with Netflix, Crackle and assorted stuff on Roku (thank you, catastrophegirl, for your channel website!), when my internet cooperates and I can watch it. The rest, like Hoarders and some Discovery channel stuff, I can watch online. The only thing I kind of miss is Nicktoons. But they repeat so much that it’s not that bad.

    Besides, if I get DTV back some other time, I’d be a new customer and would get the deal!

  41. limbodog says:

    I’m one of those annoying jerks who will tell anyone who sits still long enough to listen that I ditched TV years ago and don’t regret it. I don’t regret it even more whenever I see how much the monopoly Comcast is charging people for their content.

    Having said that, I would go out and buy a tv tonight if I had the option of getting the one or two channels I actually have an interest in watching (say, sci-fi, and comedycentral) without having to pay for all the others. I’d be even more jonesed about it if I could easily pick up and toss channels on a daily basis without grief. (like pick up HBO for the duration of Game of Thrones or something)

    The existing model sucks horribly, and I have zero choice in providers in the city of Boston. So until that magical day, having no tv is teh way to go.

  42. Steevo says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all. Directv has been jacking up the rates on their old customers in favor of their new customers. They have been doing it for almost three years AFAICT. They charge about double if you are not *new*.

    I complained to them but It only worked for a couple of years. Not anymore.

    Anyone who can avoid all that nonsense probably will going forward.

  43. shayden says:

    I am just counting the day’s for my contract to end so i can dump them for good. I am not a fan at all of this company. No matter what receiver I have it is so slow and just never works right. Even when light clouds come into the area signal is lost most of the time, just cant stand it anymore.

  44. kent909 says:

    This is the story I have been waiting for. Lets hope that this is the trend and not a blip due to a seasonal adjustment. Once the paid subscribers start disappearing, than the content providers will then begin to find out where these people are going. Hopefully, like me they are looking to the streaming model, for our TV. I really look forward to a time when I can pay $1 an episode for first run episodes. Currently there are only a few shows that, I watch, that I cannot get via the Internet. That number is getting smaller each season. I recently watched two shows on Netflix that I never watched when they were new. I like the model of starting with the pilot and getting to watch as much of the series as fast as I want to. I find it better than waiting a week to learn what happens next. This is an encouraging article, I think maybe we are nearing critical mass and TV is about to become the Ala Carte model it needs to be.