First went the newspaper. It was probably the media we used the most, especially the Sunday paper. But it was valuable mostly for either local information or stories that were occurring around the periphery, in areas we wouldn’t normally hear about. By 2004 or 2005, though, we could usually get the information faster on the Internet. In particular, where the newspapers were syndicating information a day or more later than it was released, we were increasingly seeing stories online before it reached the paper.
Now we’ve cut the cable and cancelled our Rogers Cable service. TV has never been a big part of our media consumption. It is the epitome of what we dislike about paying for information. The cost and selection is unrelated to our actual use. There was some hope that more a la carte, basic choices would appear but I haven’t found them to date.
Apparently, Canadians watched an average of 28.5 hours a week [good example of syndication problems: HuffPost reprinted with an error, saying it is 28.5 a year] in 2011. Someone is picking up our slack, as our network and cable TV viewing is perhaps 10 hours per adult and that includes flicking on the weather channel (our kids aren’t allowed to watch broadcast TV). In our case, we have not redirected our TV watching online, although we probably match the 2.8 hours online that the average Canadian watches.
We are more likely to either play recorded media – DVD or VHS – that we have purchased and own, or receive through a subscription to Zip.ca, a Canadian version of the Netflix DVD service. Netflix.ca online streaming is so lacking in content – which I hold the Federal government responsible for due to their inability to pass copyright law improvements – that it is a joke. Try typing in a well-known film title just to see the “we don’t have that but try this” alternatives. It’s like looking into a bargain bin of straight to DVD titles.
Internet-based content is easy to play through your TV. We tend to keep an older computer around, connected by a VGA cable to the TV. We often will put the streaming content onto the TV in this way, getting the benefit of the big screen.
Over the air (OTA) antennas can be an answer for some people who want to cut out the cable companies and just pay (or not) for what they want. In our case, we are sufficiently far north and behind a hill that we can pick up very little. What we can pick up is also freely online, which gives both the option to watch when we want as well as higher quality.
Our online TV viewing will probably increase now. In part, that is due to looking at what online options there are for free, non-geo-blocked online TV. PBS Video has a number of programs that that Canadians can watch. National Film Board of Canada has loads of full length films too. The major TV providers in Canada offer free viewing as well (CTV, GlobalTV, for example). My guilty pleasure is Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, which is broadcast in Canada on Sunday morning at 12:30 or 1am. In any event, I usually watched the full episodes on the Canadian Comedy Channel site since I’m usually in bed by 1am.
It’s also not about getting content for free. As good quality options come along that are priced to match how we view programs or films, we’ll license them. For now, if it’s not freely available or on recorded media that we can borrow or rent, we’ll just go without.
Broadband Internet access is our sole media conduit now, through a Teksavvy DSL subscription. We’ll continue to see TV programs and movies, but are far more likely to buy a DVD or rent one than to ever license a subscription that requires us to pay for channels that we don’t use.