I cut the cord two years ago from cable TV but am interested in using apps for the iPad and Roku to watch live cable TV.  I called Time Warner Cable today to ask them if they offered a cable TV package that wouldn’t require a physical installation.  TL;DR – using the TWC TV apps (iPad, Android tablet, Roku) requires a physical install.

My Situation

Most of the summer (April – October) I’m not home on the weekends as we have a seasonal spot at a campground about 3 hours away from home.  We ended up cutting cable two years ago and don’t really miss it for what we used of it.  At one time I ran a MythTV server with two tuner cards, and it worked well.  I have since moved to two dual-tuner HDHomeRun units with Elgato’s EyeTV running on a Mac mini.  It works well enough and it allows me to stream and download any recorded content to my iPad/iPhone.  I can even watch live remotely and not pay anything extra.

There are a couple cable shows that I pay for per-episode on iTunes since cutting the cord.  I’m happy to do so as they are high quality recordings that don’t get permanently erased when the shit cable DVR craps out.  Some cable channels stream their content on their site for free with ads included – some are even at HD quality.  There are a couple channels that I really want to watch, but I can’t without an active cable subscription – CNN being one of these.

I recently moved into a new house and it was not wired for cable TV.  I use ethernet and WiFi to pull content from the networked tuners, so it didn’t matter.  The less infrastructure, the better in my opinion.  I do not want cable lines strewn through my house or outside along the siding because the installers can’t take the time to fish cable properly.  No thanks.

What I Want

I want a subscription to cable TV that is solely supported by two things:

  1. All of their apps (iOS, Android, smart TVs, and Roku)
  2. Third-party sites requiring cable subscriptions

Zero infrastructure in my house is a requirement – I already pay for broadband Internet from the cable company.  There is a cable line in my house, terminated at the modem in the basement.  I shouldn’t need anything else.

I want to be able to watch shows live – on demand would be great – through the devices I already own.  I want to be able to log into websites and watch their content which should be offered to the public anyway supported by ads.

Why Cable Companies Won’t Do It

Well, at least why they won’t do it soon.

Cable companies have invested a LOT in their television signal processing and distribution technologies.  They’ve made the move in the past five years to going to a switched (IP-based) network to allow them to grow outside the constraints of electromagnetic spectrum limitations of cable line medium.  They also have a lot of people working for them to support the networks including sales staff, engineers, technicians and all the associated management around that.

There are also several legal limitations to take into account.  Local municipalities and States levy heavy tariffs [examples] against cable companies that are passed onto the consumer.  Internet service is typically not covered by this – only sales tax.  TV not limited to a physical location gets tricky when taxation is involved.

This move means their primary bread & butter will be broadband Internet.  More people are ditching cable TV and keeping their broadband Internet.  Internet access is now a utility and is as difficult to live without at home as it would be without gas or water.  Requiring people to have broadband Internet service keeps a good portion of that cable network support staff employed.

The Sad Reality

Finding content that you want to watch can be really difficult.  Studios and distribution companies have made it way too complicated (if not impossible) to legally purchase or view some shows.  Sadly, people are still going to turn to BitTorrent to find the shows they want to watch.  It’s lost revenue for advertisers, cable companies, and software developers for cable companies not to support this new model of accessing TV.

Cable companies need to adapt and quickly.  We’re only going to say “TAKE MY MONEY!!” for so long before we move on!