Tuesday, May 09, 2006

STREAMING TV A GOOD THING

I happen to be one of the few people in Canada who does not have cable TV. There are a few reasons for this. One is that I wanted to get back at the TV industry for all the unpaid internships I had to do. I felt like they were all looking for cheap labor and I really felt they were taking advantage of people, having people work for free in jobs they should have been paid for. So I figured this was my small way of protesting the shabby way the industry was treating all these hard-working people. Refusing to give them any of my money in cable fees seemed an appropriate response.

The second thing is that I looked at my cable bill and had a heart attack at the amount of money I was giving to the cable company in return for the junk I was getting on the TV screen. Canadian cable TV is terrible; it's all reruns or music videos, or boring home-renovation or cooking shows. And I was paying through the nose for these "superstations" from Chicago, Los Angeles and New York that ran WB programming when there was a local WB affiliate running the same programming for free, from Buffalo! It really is garbage, most of the stuff you get on cable TV in this country, and the few decent offerings are hardly worth the price tag that you have to pay for the rest of it. And since Geraldo and Greta Van Susteren left their shows for networks you couldn't get on Canadian cable TV anyway, I said, what point is there keeping cable. The heck with it.

The thing that gets me is that most of the junk on cable TV is repeated on over-the-air stations around here anyway. CTV has been airing lots of junk from its specialty channels on the weekends these days, like their MTV offerings. So even if you don't pay for it, you can still watch it for free on CTV. Same with all the Star! TV offerings they run on Citytv and on A-Channel. It really is a waste of money, subscribing to cable TV in this country.

Fortunately for me, getting rid of cable wasn't as earth-shattering as it could have been. I live in signal-rich southern Ontario, where you can get so many free TV signals via antenna that it almost makes more sense to dump cable than to keep it. There are something like eighteen stations that you can get in Toronto, Ontario via antenna, and pretty easily might I add. The PBS station from Buffalo, for example, just booms into here, and so does UPN 23 and FOX 29. Only the NBC signal is a little weak, but so many NBC shows are shown on Global and on A-Channel that it doesn't really matter, you're not missing much.

When I first moved to Ontario I was shocked at the amount of TV stations you could get, including UHF stations, just with an antenna. People living on the prairies pretty much have to get cable TV out of necessity, because very few stations can be received with an antenna.

The other good news is that the Internet has boomed with all the streaming going on. You can tune in to CPAC and CP24 over the Internet, and I tune in to the clips from Mike Duffy's show and from Politics with Don Newman whenever I feel like it. I've been able to tune into a number of international streams online, so I've been able to watch CNN International, CNBC and even an ESPN streams from Asia. (That's one reason I don't miss TSN right now.) A lot of countries from Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America stream broadband, so I've been able to tune into a lot of movies and American-made shows from those outlets. Russian TV, in particular, is pretty good for that. I've been able to watch plenty of baseball and basketball, no problems, without cable TV. The folks at CBS Sportsline streamed part of the NCAA Basketball Championships on-line. For free, might I add.

Another bonus is that more and more TV series are being streamed online, including the newscasts. I notice that the Today Show is streaming its first hour on-line. And you can download entire series online these days, too, for a reasonable price. Life is great.

Today, the Toronto SUN is launching its Canoe Live service on the Web and that's more proof that you do not need cable in this country. Who needs cable TV when there's the Internet available, providing these offerings- especially when you can get these regular stations for free with rabbit ears.

No comments: