Cable Rage and Credentialism

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
— George Orwell

I had a long, hearty laugh today while reading this article on the Consumerist. It seems that an “expert” has concluded that more and more people people are ditching cable not only to save money, but because — drumroll please — their customer service sucks!

Of course anyone has has ever dealt with any cable company for more than 5 seconds could have told you that. But in our absurdly credentialist society, it isn’t true until an expert says it’s true. Never mind that Comcast has been voted by its customers as the the worst company in America. We need a professor of marketing to tell us why cable companies have begun hemmorrhaging customers now that they have a bit of competition (a little problem they didn’t have to worry about for quite a few years).

I can’t help indulging in a little schadenfreude at the poor cable companies’ recent woes, but sadly, it won’t last for long, because here’s another amazing insight — if everyone starts ditching cable in favor of Netflix and BitTorrent, broadband providers will — drumroll please — jack up the price of Internet access! Someone has to pay for producing all that content, so when the baby boomers (who still pay for cable, because they’re fusty old luddites 1) start dying off, the bill is going to land on your doorstep, in one form or another.

In particular, the days of flat fees for unlimited usage may well be numbered. Better download all those vintage Baywatch episodes now, while you have the chance.

You heard it here first! Not that it matters — I know you’re not listening. It’s not like I have a PhD in communications or anything, so what do I know?

P.S. You aren’t actually paying these people for cable TV, are you? I certainly hope not.

  1. With apologies to the more enlightened exception-that-proves-the-rule boomers who frequent this site.


  1. Progress Trap

    I’m hoping Google Fiber will help to drop prices. It must be happening in Kansas City right now.

    • Sean Owen

      Yeah, there are a number of ways competition might stave it off, but I wouldn’t count on being able to dodge it forever. My original point still stands. Producing content costs money. They’ll find a way to get you to pay for it. (Which is perfectly fair, by the way).

      Frankly, I’m looking forward to the demise of the current model. Right now, cable companies bundle vast amounts of content together and force you to pay for things you don’t want. I’d be happy to pay to get just Game of Thrones and Dexter without having to pay for all that other crap.

      As for Google fiber, the funny thing is that Google tried to provide free wifi for the entire city of San Francisco, and the city council wouldn’t let them!

      We can argue all day about the politics of why, but don’t expect Google fiber to be rolled out nationwide any time soon.

    • d

      I am in Kansas City, and I actually don’t predict the other cable/internet companies (Time Warner, AT&T) will drop their prices. Unfortunately, the way Google did the sign-up for Fiber made it a somewhat exclusive service. There was a set period of time during which you could sign up for future Fiber service, and enough people in your neighborhood had to sign up for your neighborhood to even be eligible. If you missed signing up or not enough neighbors signed up, you don’t get Fiber. (At least not during their first install period, which is going to take a long, long time.) Also, the part of the metro area they are covering is pretty small right now. I have seen billboards for bigger sign-on bonuses for Time Warner, but that’s it. I would LOVE for Google to stick it to Time Warner, but for now, I don’t think they are actually going to be stealing away too much of their overall business.

      • Sean Owen

        Yep. Laying fiber is a massive, staggeringly expensive undertaking, and the regulatory hurdles are unfathomable. Google has lots of money, but even their resources aren’t infinite.

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