First Click: Quitting cable TV the AOL way

February 3rd, 2016


A few years ago, my anxious father quit what was for him the internet: Aol. I recently cut the cable cord, a medium that’s long been synonymous with TV. That was two months ago. Looking back I realize that like my father, I was scared and should have done it sooner.

As a septuagenarian, my father’s story was typical of long-time Aol dial-up subscribers. His subscription was a security blanket. He was sure he didn’t need the dial-up component, but he didn’t want to risk losing access to his stock portfolio, investor forums, and email. His setup worked, and he could afford to keep paying the subscription he had dutifully paid for over a decade. With my help, we were able to migrate everything he used on Aol to the ad-supported and open internet that was already being delivered into his house via the broadband component of his cable package. Even after things were fully mirrored, he still felt trepidation when the time came to pick up the phone and terminate his dial-up account (despite Aol’s best attempt to obscure and complicate the procedure). Months later he told me he felt silly for letting the ruse go on for so long.

Now I know the feeling, Dad.

Like my father, I was nervous about ending my cable TV subscription. I was pretty sure I didn’t need it, but I was worried I’d miss a breaking news report, or some new must-see TV show, or… I don’t know, something. Television had always been delivered into my home over cable — that’s just how it’s done. Still, I was sure that I was paying double (and probably more) through additional subscriptions with Netflix, Amazon Prime, NFL GamePass, and Mubi. I even subscribed to Hulu as a safety net right before terminating my cable TV contract.

Two months after cutting the cord I can confidently say that my fears were unfounded. For my cable company, it’s essentially a wash since I used the money saved to upgrade my internet connection to a business-class service (guaranteed service levels and support) while doubling my upload and download speeds. Next I’ll be canceling Hulu, which I never use.

Of course, that’s me. You might still require cable to slake your particular variety of TV compulsion. Or maybe you’ll require HBO Now, or Sling TV, or some other combination of services. But cord cutting is accelerating. So don’t let a fear of missing out get in the way of change that might be long overdue.

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