The shift to a cable-less life has some issues.

Legal and Ethical IssuesEdit

There are also several ways to ‘cheat the system’ via streaming and online media.  One of the easier ways is by sharing subscriptions.  Netflix and Hulu offer customers subscriptions that can stream on multiple devices at a time.   Although the intent was to make it easier to go from one room to the next and continue watching a show (like a traditional cable set-up), customers have taken advantage of the multiple device option.  They share login information with friends and family at different locations, essentially cutting their per capita subscription cost in half or more.  These actions, though not technically illegal in most state, can have consequences.  A recent Tennessee law criminalizes sharing Netflix and other entertainment subscription services in the same category as stealing cable TV.  Netflix's own Terms of Use acknowledges that users will share their passwords. However, all liability for shared use is back to the account owner.  If Netflix does decide that a borrower violates the Terms of Use, the owner will be the one paying (Hamburger, 2011).

A larger issue to arise is the increase in video piracy as a way to circumvent cable costs.  This is perhaps exacerbated by the increase in home internet speeds.  Most television shows and films are available for illegal download within hours of airing/viewing on peer-to-peer sites.  Illegal streaming of live pay-per-view and out-of-market events are available with an internet search.  The value of illegally downloaded copies of one film can equal 10s of millions of dollars.   “The Hobbit” and “Django Unchained were each illegally downloaded from piracy sites more than 8 million times in 2013.  “Fast & Furious 6” was a close third, with 7.9 million downloads (Busis, 2014).  These movies are rented for $1-3 and sold for $10.00 or more in theatre and DVD stores. Video piracy potentially costs billions of dollars every year.  Punishment of copyright infringement varies from case to case and country to country, but a conviction could include jail time and severe fines for each separate instance of copyright infringement.  Here in the United States, fins for copyright infringement can carry a fine up to $150,000 per instance, according to the U.S. Copyright Office website (2014).

Security IssuesEdit

Traffic to illegal download sites has increased by over 500% since 2009, and analyst project another 23% growth until 2015 (Pogue, 2012).  These types of sites leave the user open to cyber-attacks, viruses and other malware.  Torrent sites like BitTorrent or The Pirate Bay are often used for sharing pirated videos, as well as music and software.  However, these sites are also full of malware.  These sites are dangerous because no one vets the download files, so someone such as a hacker can disguise malicious files into a download.  Ben Edelman, a Harvard Business School assistant professor  and privacy researcher, thinks torrent sites are the most dangerous places to visit because they lack a business model and don’t have a reputation to defend (Mediata, 2010).

Social IssuesEdit

One of the drawbacks of leaving cable for the lower-priced online services is the increase in price for internet service.  Internet service is, in most urban areas, provided by the local cable company.  When these companies see a decline in one revenue stream (such as cable), they are likely to increase the prices across the board, or just in some of their higher demand services (such as internet). This increase in service (as well as increase in high demand video services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon) begins to cut into the savings of the consumer.

Another social issue is the amount of knowledge and skills needed to function outside of a cable set-top box.  These devices aren’t always so simple to understand; alternative set-top boxes like Roku or Chromecast require an entirely different skill set an knowledge base to set-up, operate, optimize and maintain.

Cable's Slow Death?Edit

It appears that cables’ biggest problems are economic.  Consumers Union found that cable rates have increased 30% since 2009, triple the rate of inflation.   Ellen East of Cox Communications puts part of the blame on the cost of programming.  “Our programming costs went up in double digits this year [while} average rates were up 5 percent” (Baumgartner, 2014).  But providers like Cox cannot afford to drop more expensive channels, or they will lose out to competitors like satellite, where four out of five new ‘traditional’ video subscribers are headed.  Though cable subscriptions are falling, about 86% of households with a television still subscribe to a service from Cox, Verizon, Comcast or others (Snider, 2013).  Signs point to a re-evaluation of the Telecommunications Reform Act, as even former supporters of the 2009 laws are considering regulation to bring down ever-increasing monthly bills.  Until that happens, more and more customers are content to turn to their internet connection to entertain themselves at a fraction of the cost.

Pages In the WikiEdit


Alternatives to Cable

Why Drop Cable?

Legal, Ethical, Security and Social Issues