Cord-Cutting Is Viable, Even Cable Execs Do It

Back in August, Time Warner Cable PR executive Jeff Simmermon offered a curious confession: He was a passionate cord-cutter. Somehow, he had survived without cable. Not just in his previous incarnations, but for the first 18 months on the job at TWC.

Simmermon's admission (on a TWC corporate blog) had him indicating he could get his entertainment fix from online streaming and iTunes downloads. And he was content to view the content on a modest lap top.

His boldness may not have worked in the hinterlands, he wrote. As a New York resident, he was paying too much in taxes not to hit the town to get his money's worth. He had to avoid "wasting my money if I sit at home passively watching the same television programs you can see in a seedy motel on the outskirts of Indianapolis."

Then he found religion and finally wired up.

"Shortly before I got cable, I realized that I was spending more time and money hunting down and streaming -- or downloading from iTunes -- stuff that I wanted to watch. My girlfriend and I had a few too many cozy nights in with a date to watch a movie and then discovered that the thing looked like a Chuck Close painting when I expanded it to fit my laptop screen."



TWC recently launched a modified cable service aimed, in part, at forestalling cord-cutting. The package of channels costs less, though there are many coveted networks - notably ESPN -- missing. Comcast has now done the same with a cheaper, slimmer package.

Executives on both the cable operator and network side say they have no evidence that cord-cutting is on the rise. People may be dropping subscriptions for economic reasons, but not philosophical or behavioral. These cutters are not a Simmermon circa April 2008, finding enough content gratis, or for little cost, online to more than satisfy them. Comcast has now lowered the cost of one of its cheaper, slimmer packages.

There will always be a cadre of viewers who need cable for certain niche networks with no online or pay-download options. Some people may adore their massive HD screens and won't forgo the opportunity for a cable menu to fill them.

There's no doubt that cord-cutting brings a sacrifice. But a decade ago, before going the online-video boom, former Fox and WB executive Jamie Kellner unwittingly offered an argument for taking the plunge.

If memory serves, Kellner recounted how at one of his homes, the cable was out and he was stuck with a limited analog set, yet he had a blast making do with it. There were enough jokes on network comedies to have him laughing his head off, and action in the dramas to satisfy him.

Now, if Kellner were to grapple with a blackout, but was equipped with a speedy laptop, he'd surely be even happier. More so, if a newspaper or Web site were offering TV Guide-style listings for a cord-cutter. The week ahead for the cutter, as it were.

The guide would, of course, acknowledge that many of the shows online take waiting a day to watch. Then again, they come with fewer ads. This week's suggestion for a personal prime-time line-up could go as such:


BCS National Championship game, live,


8-9 p.m. - "Men of a Certain Age," 9-10 p.m. - "CSI: Miami," 10-10:30 p.m. - "The Simpsons," 10:30-11 p.m. - "The Daily Show,"


8-9 p.m. "Desperate Housewives," 9-10 p.m. - "Conan," 10-11 p.m. - back-to-back episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,"


8-9 p.m. - "Glee," 9-10 p.m. - back-to-back episodes of "Modern Family," 10-11 p.m. - "Psych,"


8-11 p.m.-ish - NBA: Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs, live,


8-9 p.m. - "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," 9-10 p.m. - back-to-back episodes, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," 10 p.m. - 11 p.m. - "Iron Chef America,"


8-9 p.m. - "Intervention," 9-10 p.m. - back-to-back episodes, "The Office," 10p.m. - 11 p.m. - "Greek,"

A free analog set-up is crucial to get "American Idol" and NFL football on CBS, Fox and ESPN (not streamed, yet). But get the antenna and add an affordable Netflix subscription for movies and older TV episodes during downtime, and viewers content with a schedule similar to the above, could make cord-cutting a little more cutting for the TV industry.

1 comment about "Cord-Cutting Is Viable, Even Cable Execs Do It".
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  1. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, January 11, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

    I Cut the Cord four years ago, and taking the College Bowl Games off of Free TV WILL NOT get me to re-subscribe.

    If the Pay-TV Industry wants me to re-subscrine two things will have to occur.

    1. Cable Channels will have to be offered A-La-Carte. This way i would get (and pay for) ONLY those Channels I desire to watch, not a bunch of Channels I never watch.

    2. The "V-Chip" Law must be AMENDED so that it includes Commercials as well as Programming. Thi9s way Parents can control what Commercials they want their children to see. (It was seeing a Prescription Drug Ad for and "Adult Problem" aired during a Children's Show that influenced my decision to no longer subscribe to a Pay-TV Service.)

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