How To Deal with Comcast’s New Broadband Data Caps

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    If you are under 30 statistics show that there is a good chance that you don’t even purchase TV Subscriptions from your Cable Provider. For the rest of us that number right now is in the 20% area with many millions of customers every few months on all provider’s networks who are choosing only to get Data Plans and not subscribe to TV Broadcasts.

    Does this mean that people no longer want to watch TV? Have they all got so fascinated in Facebook and Twitter that Television is now a thing of the past? No not even close but the way they are getting their TV is changing and that means losses for TV Distributors from Cable to Fios or Google and Dish networks.

    The fact is too much content on Cable and everywhere else is reruns and nothing else. Unless you are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money for Sports Packages that change every season or Premium TV channels that still only offer a handful of original content then you are likely watching reruns on top of new content that is also available by Antenna.

     

    Lets look at the Basic lineups of most major providers

    So if you are an average subscriber that wants a selection of television from a basic plan you are likely to receive all of your local Antenna Based Networks which include the major networks like Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, ION, PBS and in most markets RT, F24, Telemundo and a few other foreign language stations. However increasingly there are additional stations available over Antenna such as HSN, SHOP, QVC, MyTV, This, Cozi TV, QUBO, Movies, AntennaTV and a number of religious and regional stations with TV Shows or Movies. You are also likely to have one of the major networks run a 24/7 local news station with Weather.

    Now for many people that lineup is much of what they watch during the week. If they like Survivor, Modern Family, Shows on Fox or Spanish Programming then these stations fill a good proportion of their viewing time and they are free with just the use of an antenna.

    Now in addition to the Locals you will find that there are a few dozen channels in your basic cable lineup that play nothing but reruns. They play zero new content and most people find that extremely annoying to pay for dozens of channels that are broadcasting nothing but shows that went off the air 10 or 20 or 30 years ago and charging you money. They might be interesting shows but they are reruns.

    Then you have the quasi premium channels on Basic Cable that are suppose to provide the content value that your subscription costs. But these networks are no better than the stations that play nothing but reruns.

    Look at a few of the better stations like SyFy, BBCA, Discovery, A&E, FoodNetwork, SpikeTV, TBS…. the original new shows that are on these networks amount to about 10 shows a week and that is not per network that is across all of the quasi premium channels on basic cable.

    If all you are getting is 10 to maybe 20.. or lets be really forgiving and say in the main part of the fall season where TV is really trying to attract viewers .. there might be a total of 30 new shows on basic cable in a week and that is on all of the 150 channels you might receive as part of your basic and not individually priced premium channels.

    Out of those thirty shows you might personally want to watch 5 of them. You probably don’t want to watch MTV Catfish or Oprah interviewing Sarah Jessica Parker for the 27th time.. you might want to watch a couple shows here and there if you have time.

    Why are people running to Antenna & Streaming for Television?

    We pretty much just answered that question. For most people if it wasn’t for the fact that Comcast or your other Cable Provider has a lock on Baseball, NHL, NASCAR and won’t allow their broadcast on Antenna TV like it use to be 20 years ago… Even when companies like Comcast own Antenna based stations in most markets like NBC or another local.. People wouldn’t buy Cable if they could get it someplace else.

    With the Sports Leagues and Premium channels like HBO offering Streaming Alternatives then people are deciding to install an Antenna and supplement that with a small selection of Streaming which in the end reduces their monthly bill and also concentrates their lineup by removing dozens of stations that air nothing .. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but reruns 24/7.

    People have found they can live without a new show here or there from the basic cable stations or pick it up off of Amazon Prime or Hulu or another streaming site for free. And there is enough legal content out there that you can basically stream your lineup and that is all you need.

    It is just not reasonable to pay providers for crap you will never watch and such a tiny bit of original content. This is why Fox News is winning Cable Viewer Numbers because people have nothing else to watch and its not like more people are watching Cable News.. its just that no one is watching anything else.

    Data Caps are to slow the Surge to Streaming

    There is no denying and even comcast executives and employees have been quoted in the news like Ars Technica saying that the implementation of Data Caps on Data Plans is not to protect throughput or that their system can not handle unlimited transfer but they are to squash the use of streaming. That the executives at Comcast do not believe in Unlimited Data. And everyone knows that this has to do with them becoming a Data vs TV company. Unfortunately they are too stupid to provide their own streaming solution for their own and for outside subscribers like Sling.tv is trying to do.

    What can you do now?

    Well we have talked about the problem and how companies that provide content are now implementing methods that will reduce your access and ability to stream content from a third party.

    We have also talked about how much of the new content on Television comes from the Major Networks and that there are also a number of secondary but good providers that broadcast for free over antenna.

    The solution for us now is to analyze our use of all forms of distribution and regulate them in our homes.

    If content can be accessed freely over antenna then you should never access it through a streaming service. That means if you miss a show or aren’t normally home to watch a show you like you will need to implement some type of DVR product to capture the Antenna Television and then stream it local.

    It also means you should end your use of torrents. For the most part torrents are illegal but in addition to that they also waste your transfer because while you are downloading you are also uploading. It is not a 1 to 1 proposition but for some people they archive content and allow others to access it. This is really not something you should be doing for many reasons but lets get personal about it .. its wasting your data cap.

    Find content sites that are free like free content on Hulu or if you have a prime membership for shipping then look into what prime offers for free and don’t get pulled into premium memberships or paying for individual shows. That will waste your money and its probably not necessary if you are doing everything else right.

    Next if you are on Cable TV you should use a CableCard Tuner such as a Ceton or SiliconDust to record content now before you cancel your subscription. You might even find it worth your budget to do this even if you are not signed up for TV Service because most providers have package deals and if you are on comcast you always pay a premium for the same data service as a single purchase rather than with TV. Record as much content as you can and with all of the reruns you will be able to record whole series off of cable in three to six months. If you enjoy watching these shows that are in rerun then do this. You can get entire series saved to a local drive that you are allowed to keep and use forever. Just don’t share them with anyone.

    Finally once you are off of Cable as your Television source you will have to up your game and record as much TV content as you can off of Antenna. There are a number of solutions to do this and the easiest is simply putting a $15 TV Tuner card in a Windows 7 Premium/ Pro computer and going through the lineup and selecting new shows, movies, series or special events like sports to record.

    Some people use multi tuners for antenna recording which would be a great thing for a sports fan to record all of the games on the weekend and then watch them throughout the week when nothing is on. You can record all of the College and Pro games and you can record anything else including every decent movie.

    Personally I like the idea of recording these overnight news programs and then playing them back in the late morning. You can watch the live local news when you get up and then watch the international news that is normally on late or very early in the morning. That should be a partial cure for news junkies and then you can record different news from major networks and play that back after dinner.. ABC NBC CBS an the Local Fox .. with a bit of recording and selective playback you can watch live or just broadcast news from different sources all day pretty much and then watch the shows you like on the networks later when they are broadcast. Then supplement that with online news. Fox News and CNN both offer a lot of news clips every day .. actually hours of news both live and in clips. On the other hand you probably want to limit that because of your data caps. But you can still read webpages for news or be like everyone else and just use twitter.

    Final Note

    Well we all thought there was a good thing coming with Streaming content however you can never count out what a provider will do when faced with the fact that their content sucks and people are leaving by the millions every few months.

    I strongly suggest if you have a remainder on your Cable contract that you buy a CableCard Tuner and record as much content that you can. Entire series and every movie broadcast. Try to concentrate on content only available on basic cable an not antenna.

    Then I suggest you implement TV Recording off of your antenna. You can purchase a DVR that can record a few gigs of shows and movies or you can build your own method to capture everything. I know people with 4 Antenna tuners that record everything they like and stream live tv to their sets over their home network. Its not that difficult and the DVR solution is only $50 and can save hundreds of shows which you can also offload and save in an archive.

    Reduce your use of paid services online and do away with torrents they just eat your caps.

    Stream locally by building your own streaming server with 10 or 20 TB of storage and some Android Boxes at your TV connected to your HDMI Port along with Antenna over Coax and limit your streaming to one or two shows a day and you should be well within your data caps.

    You will have more free stuff to watch than you can imagine.

     

     

     

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