If you wonder what you are going to do when Data Caps come to your Home Town you aren’t alone. For millions of Americans that rely on online streaming of content to either supplement or replace TV Subscriptions an in your face campaign has been launched to increase your monthly costs exponentially.
Our family has been Comcast customers for decades even before there was Internet Service but at that time the quality of content on cable was much better.
Ten or Twenty years ago every network on cable had new content every night. You could expect a dozen new episodes on Food Network and the same for Discover, TLC, Bravo, Lifetime. I am so old that I remember when Lifetime TV had 24 hour a day programming dealing with health issues. There were exercise shows, regis philbin had an exercise show on that network and at night they had detailed information that was geared at training Doctors. You could watch operations and learn about different cures that were just being accepted in the medical world. It was a great network. TBS AMC Turner Classics all had great movies on them both new and old and the variety was more than enough for most people and at that point HBO was inexpensive and also had quality movies rather than pumping out their own crappy shows.
Today 85% of cable is reruns another 10% is Pay and only about 5% of it is new shows. It is just horrible and people have no wish to watch television shows that went off 10 years ago… over and over and over and over again.
We all understand that the economy has been hard on Television Production but how much does it cost to make most of these shows? Discovery is now the Alaska Channel with 20 people with consumer grade HD cameras running around recording the lives of every random family in Alaska… If you are interested in health or exercise you better go to the gym because all of that has been replaced by people hunting through storage lockers full of garbage or random groups of “Wives” around the country that no one can believe a man agreed to marry.
So, People have decided to Cut The Cord. For many that means a mixture of Antenna and Streaming content and for others it means only streaming content.
If you like sports you will be lucky to see a handful of Hockey, Baseball or other Games not to mention NASCAR which is now almost exclusively broadcast on Comcast’s Private Cable Stations while Comcast also owns NBC Antenna Stations across the country. It is a scandal because Tax Dollars fund those stadiums and the upkeep but one company has control of most of the rights and won’t open those games for public viewing.
So, Honestly how do we deal with Internet Data Caps?
The first thing I will suggest is that you investigate the best antenna solution for your home. Many people who live in Apartments are also close enough to major markets that they can get good signal with indoor antennas. You might need a pretty strong indoor antenna but they don’t build a lot of apartment complexes out in the middle of farmland.
Read some of my other How Tos and you will learn how to Pick an antenna for your location, How To wire your home for distribution of TV and How To use Amplifiers to get the best Signals.
Its really important that people make use of Antenna based Television because we don’t want there to be a day when the government makes it easy for them to turn it off and only provide Paid TV.
TV is bigger than watching Jerry Springer its a way to educate children and adults and for the general public to learn about things that are happening in our local, State, National and International News.
Lets face it no matter how cheap Cable, Dish or even Cell Phone Service is there will still be millions of Americans that have to choose between those bills and Heating their home or putting Food on the table or making sure their kids or even their own clothes are clean and decent.
No Government program is going to eliminate that need and even a full employed economy won’t fully eliminate the need for general entertainment and news to be broadcast for free over the air where anyone with a one time purchase can get a TV and become part of it.
Capturing Your Television Is Your Best Bet
Starting in the early 1980’s many homes purchased a VCR to record TV or play commercial Tapes. Today with Digital TV you capture that broadcast with a Computer or a specialized DVR Setup.
DVRs can be as cheap and easy as a $50 box that you have to program manually or they can be as complex as a computer based system able to record 2, 4 or even 6 different shows at the same time.
At the very least you need to get a DVR Box and record shows that are on when you are not home so you can play them when you are.
A better solution is to use a computer based DVR to capture shows and movies which you can archive for watching any time you want in the future.
The best solution is before you cancel your cable subscription that you record every show you possibly can both rerun and current broadcasts. Archive these shows and movies for later viewing and you won’t need to use your Netflix account to download a 5gb file to watch a movie or TV show that ran last Thursday or 3 years ago on a Thursday.
Concentrate on shows that aren’t available from other sources. Then simply collect everything you possible can. Once your archive reaches the point that you could watch all of your movies and all of your shows and never watch the same thing twice in over a year you are approaching a good size archive. You want to watch an episode of Cheers or Charmed or Castle or Chopped or Cougar Town well they are all in your archive and you can play them on all of your TVs whenever you want.
But more importantly when you cut the cord for good that is the time to ramp up your collection of content because you are going to want to watch every new episode of every show that airs on Antenna broadcasts.
You can record all of the college football on the weekend and the pro games that air over antenna and have them all for the entire week.
You can record the evening news on all the networks and then watch them back to back if you’re a news junky or record the News that starts at 4am in the morning now on many stations and watch that while Jerry Springer and Judge Judy is the only thing on during the day.
You may not watch everything but you never want to miss the option to watch it either live or later that day or next week when you have time. And if its a sitcom or a drama you can watch it years from now and not much will have changed.
Comcast is not the bad guy here they are only protecting themselves and there is no requirement that you purchase from them. Unfortunately for internet access they may be your only choice so you really need to rethink your streaming situation because simply canceling your TV subscription and moving to 100% streaming isn’t going to cut it in the future.
Standard HD on a service like Netflix is going to be about 2gigs an hour. Higher definition 4k video will consume even more of your data cap. If you are in a home with more than one TV going at the same time you multiply by whatever number to get your data throughput.
If you can push 2 hours a night to an archived movie and another 2 hours a night to your antenna then you can limit your downloads to an amount well within the data caps that most cable providers are implementing.
Also its going to be necessary to take a step back and make use of DVD rentals. Instead of streaming everything you can make a plan for the weekend and order something you don’t have to stream.
Data Caps aren’t very nice to think about when you consider the higher end internet packages can have you eat through your caps in the first part of the month then have to pay extreme overages if you have no other way to watch content.
And these things aren’t going away and won’t be regulated away so you need to prepare yourself.
And to be totally fair to Comcast the caps they are starting aren’t the worst in the country its just that a lot of people are about to have a wakeup call because they are the largest.
So, in reality .. theres no getting around it… sorry