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Why I Want To Break Up With Cable But Can't ...

... Live Sporting Events

Thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and a handful of other websites I'm able to find the majority of TV shows I care about streaming online mostly for free, or a few for a small monthly fee. My husband and I even gave up cable for awhile and got along great, except we kept finding excuses to go to a local bar to watch baseball and football games. For as much as we spent on beer, we might as well have kept our cable subscription.

Now I know there are torrenty ways to download anything I could ever want to watch for free, but I'm at the age where that kind of hackery doesn't hold the same thrill it used to. I just want to watch my shows quickly, easily, and reliably and if I have to pay a small fee to do so, it's not the end of the world. I also think that media providers who don't realize that they could grow their audience (and make more money) if they played nicely with providers like Hulu and Netflix *cough* CBS *cough* CW *cough* premium cable *cough* are behind the times and just don't get the way media distribution is changing.

After our last move we resubscribed to cable and while we're loving our easy access to the NFL and Cubs games, that's the only reason I can see for keeping the cable. Our particular local cable provider, while the best in the area, still stinks. They've had to replace our box 3 times in 4 months, each time losing all of our DVR content (thank goodness for Hulu). Our current box freezes up at least once a week, sometimes in the middle of recording something, or missing recording shows entirely. So much for DVR. Considering the subscription fees for Netflix and HuluPlus combined are less than our cable bill, provide us with more content on demand, and do not rely on a broken down old cable box in order to record my shows, I'm really having a hard time seeing why I should stick with cable.

To be fair, the NFL isn't completely unreasonable. During the off-season I can access 2010 season audio for free and video for $19.99 for the entire off-season, and this includes a great smartphone app that I've used during the season to listen to the free live game audio. I honestly can't remember what it costs to get access to games online during the season, but it can't be as unreasonable as MLB ...

MLB.TV is also available through your computer or a smartphone app, but after paying either $99.99 or $119.99 you have access to only out-of-market games. That means if I'm at work and can't go to the Cubs game and can't watch it on TV, I also can't have it on in the background on my computer screen. Or if I'm out and about doing things while the game is on, I can't pull out my phone while I'm waiting in line or something and watch the game live for a few minutes. Or if I've given up cable and still want to watch the Cubs game, I can't watch it if I live in the Chicago market.

This makes absolutely no sense. Why would you block out the one market most likely to want to watch the game online? Watching TV online isn't just a last choice or consolation prize for when you can't watch a program on TV anymore. A growing number of people are breaking up with cable or watching TV both online and live, so treating online viewers like a small niche market doesn't make sense anymore. As smart TVs and smartphones become more and more prevalent, people will only be viewing more TV online. Wake up MLB and give us access to our local baseball online.
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