Actually, I did this a while back but I was recently contacted by DirecTV who has been desperate to get me back since I dropped their service more than 5 years ago to go with Verizon’s FIOS. That kind of got me thinking about the whole thing and while I was thinking, I came up with an idea that I have no idea why they don’t use.
But first, the backstory. We had DirecTV for probably 10-12 years, it worked great, we never had any problems with the quality, it worked virtually all of the time. However, when we finally had FIOS available in our area, something we had been looking forward to for several years, we dropped DirecTV in favor of FIOS-TV, simply because there were more channels available and when we bundled our super-high-speed Internet, TV and phone together, it was cheaper than anything DirecTV could do. We still have our old DirecTV dish on the roof, I could go back to them any time I wanted, I still have the box and all the rest, I just have no desire and they can’t beat the prices.
Back in September, Verizon started bugging us big time to sign up for a new 2-year contract. Ours had run out some time during the summer and we figured we’d just keep going month to month because we had no interest in changing anything, but it gave us the opportunity to switch plans if we ever had the need without having to pay fees and all of that. Verizon kept making thinly veiled threats that our “special deal” that we were getting might “expire”, although we all know that’s a load of nonsense, so we’d better sign up again! It made us remember something we’d realized a long time ago. We don’t even watch the damn thing!
It’s true. We virtually never turned it on and when we did, it was just for background noise. Anything we watch is either downloaded or on DVD/Bluray. It was a lot of money to be spending for a box that acted more as a digital clock than a cable box. Add to that the fact that we were headed into election season and I dreaded the endless political calls. We virtually never got a single worthwhile call on our landline, it was either advertisers trying to sell us something or political calls trying to sell us something else. The only reason we’d kept it is out of tradition, we’d had the same number for more than 15 years but we couldn’t come up with a single other reason why we ought to continue to pay for something we got no positive use out of.
So we didn’t. We called Verizon and cancelled both our FIOS-TV and landline phone, then we boosted our Internet speed to the fastest it could go, both upload and download. We’re still saving a ton a month, plus we’re not locked into a contract, we’re month-to-month so we can change any time we feel like it.
I told that whole story because I wanted to tell this one.
Pretty much everyone knows I download 100% of my television viewing, I make no secret of it and I don’t feel bad about it at all. I guess one reason I kept paying for the TV as long as I did was a misguided thought that hey, I’m paying my cable bills which helps to fund these channels and therefore it shouldn’t matter how I get the content, you’re still getting my money. Of course, nobody cares about that, including Verizon, who really doesn’t give a damn what anyone downloads. Sure, if they get a complaint, they have to pass it along and wag their finger and say “naughty naughty” but they really couldn’t care less. I momentarily thought, maybe I ought to go download these shows from some of the “legal” sites, where you pay by the episode, but that immediately went out the window, doing that would cost more than just keeping the cable and you’re still stuck with the commercials. No thanks.
So that got me thinking, why doesn’t Verizon and other ISPs just charge $15-20 a month, give that money to whatever group controls TV piracy, and anyone who pays that can download any TV shows they want, from whatever source they want, with no legal penalty? Oh, I know the TV producers would never go for it, they want that advertiser revenue, but for people like me, people who are not going to watch their commercials no matter what they do, and who are now not even going to pay the few pennies a month that goes to the individual networks, at least they get something. They can’t stop piracy, they might as well profit from it. I know, it makes sense and ISPs can do similar things for people who download movies and software, or just do a “$50 a month for everything”, where people don’t have to pay for VPNs and spoof their IPs and all the rest of that. They can do what they’re going to do anyhow and not have to worry that Big Brother is looking over their shoulder.
The unfortunate reality, one that I’ve pointed out before, is that so many of these media companies are living in the dark ages and have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the light. The recording industry had to be forced to be successful by iTunes and now, there are tons of sites where you pay a flat fee and listen to as much music as you want all month long. The movie industry hated the idea of home video and fought it tooth and nail. Now it’s a massive money maker for them. The old ways are old for a reason, the world keeps moving on and these people need to get it through their heads that the world changes, with or without them.
But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to figure it out. They’ll just go on fighting the wind and losing money while the planet changes around them.