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Do We Still Really Need Cable?

by Sean P. Aune | July 7, 2010July 7, 2010 10:06 am PDT

Considering the price of cable and satellite subscriptions, and the increasing availability of watching television programs via other means, do we still really need those traditional boxes attached to our televisions?

With the launch of Hulu Plus, the new paid subscription portion of the Hulu service that provides more viewing options, a lot of people immediately saw it as a rallying war cry for cutting the cables from their lives. The problem is that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar was quick to shoot that down in an interview he gave to Peter Kafka of MediaMemo.  Mr. Kafka asked him why Hulu Plus couldn’t replace traditional television, and Mr. Kilar was very specific as to why he believed he couldn’t:

hulu plusWhen we launched Hulu, everybody was saying, “Oh, this is going to be a substitute for pay TV in the living room.” And I think people may say the same thing here. But it would be wrong. Because when you look at what is in the service versus what is not in the service, it very much is akin to a smartphone relative to a laptop.

The cable and satellite pay TV services have linear, live windows, which are different from the windows that we have in the service. There’s sports, there’s news, there’s cable…this is something different. I believe that as you see this play out, this is something that’s going to be incremental and complimentary to your cable and satellite service. And it’s priced that way.

While he’s right on a certain level, adding Hulu Plus in with a Roku device, your existing Internet subscription and a Netflix streaming subscription, and you’ll be able to watch just about anything you want.

Why the Roku?  The service now has a dedicated news application, so there goes the news argument.  And since a Roku in and of itself has no subscription fees, you pay for it once and you’re done, so your savings would be apparent pretty rapidly.

Netflix’s streaming service gives you lots of cable shows to watch after they come out on DVD, and since you are required to have a plan that rents you at least one DVD by mail at a time, you can rent the shows you miss.  Adding in the new deal with Relativity Media, and the service gets even more enticing.  The lowest cost option is $8.99 for unlimited streaming, so adding that in with Hulu Plus and you’re looking at $18.98 a month.

Don’t want to go with a Roku?  Hulu Plus and Netflix are available for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (Hulu Plus will be added to the Xbox in early 2011), and both can also get Netflix.  Just pay your annual membership fee and use hardware you already own.

Yes, Hulu Plus may only be envisioned as a supplement to your existing cable subscription, but it can also become a cornerstone to your cable/satellite free life.

What say you?  Are you considering “cutting the cable” as it were?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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