Discovering The World of Streaming TV

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For months I resisted subscribing to Netflix, the online streaming video service, despite entreaties from our 16-year-old daughter.

“We have enough digital distractions in this household eating up our money,” I proclaimed. Satellite television with a kajillion channels and rarely anything worth watching. Wireless internet, of course. A monthly cell phone bill that is equal to some folks’ car payment. Good thing we don’t have any car payments.

But then I took pity when she was laid up convalescing after a mishap and went to its website to gather information. For $7.99 a month, we could stream a plethora of movies and television series on our two televisions, the various computers and even the iPhones and iPads.

I saw the light. This was a no-brainer. Soon I had called the satellite dish company and cut that service to the minimum, saving $25 a month there to more than make up for the extra cost for Netflix. And now most nights for at least an hour or two, my Beautiful Mystery Companion and I watch television together and actually find something worthwhile, mainly series — often from the BBC. Meredith, my middle daughter, recently came to town and registered our Amazon Prime account, which provides another streaming service, many of which provide free movies and television series as part of the annual subscription price. I had already been paying for Amazon Prime because the free shipping is well worth the annual price, given how much stuff I buy from Amazon.

I have drawn two conclusions from our entry into the world of streaming video. The method in which many of us watch television is changing rapidly and radically. And none too soon, in my estimation, given my past experiences with cable companies. It is probably no accident that the two most hated companies in America, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index published quarterly the University of Michigan’s business school, are Time Warner Cable and Comcast.  The two are proposing to merge, which if nothing else means only one company will remain the most hated. While our experience with satellite has been somewhat better, we still seemed to spend most our time flipping through channels aimlessly and fruitlessly hoping to find something worth watching. Instead of “57 Channels and There’s Nothing On,” as Springsteen sang, it was more like 257 channels.

To my pleasant surprise I have discovered there are a goodly number of excellent television series out there — especially when one has watched little television in the past few decades. My dilemma always has been an inability and unwillingness to be a slave to watching a show at its allotted time slot, combined with no desire to spend time figuring out how to program a VCR (in prehistoric times) and a DVR these days. That is just too much work. But now that one can pick a series and just binge on through watching an entire five or seven-season run over a month or six week’s time, I am all over that.

We have plowed through “Scandal,” “Damages,” “House of Cards,” dabbled in “Longmire” and eagerly await the next season of “Last Tango in Halifax,” while we settle in each evening for a couple of episodes of “Monarch of the Glen.” The latter BBC series is set in a crumbling Scottish estate and features a charming lineup of eccentric characters and not a single curse word — unless one considers “bloody” a curse word.

I have not abandoned my love of reading, which remains my first leisure. But since I spend most of my time squinting at the printed word in one form or another, it is nice to have a diversion. Meredith makes her living in part by reviewing movies, television shows and books, so she is an excellent source for suggestions.

It won’t be long before we completely cut the cord with the dish, I suspect. This will force me to figure out how to watch the few sporting events I care about, such as the World Series if the Red Sox are in it, the occasional football game featuring the University of Texas, and of course the Super Bowl.

But that’s what friends are for, right?

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  • adam j. holland


    I cannot figure out why an east Texas boy would want to watch the Red Sox in a World Series, but I'm sure that's in a column somewhere. ;-) As for cutting the cord — we did it six months ago (Roku & antenna) and are quite pleased with our decision.

    • admin


      Adam, I was born in New Hampshire and lived there until I was nearly 13. My mother's family are all Red Sox fans, so I had no choice. My parents moved to Longview in 1968. In 1967, my dad took me, my brother Scott and a buddy to Fenway on the next-to-last game of the year, when the Sox tied for the lead in the American League. They clinched the AL pennant the next day. I have an autographed baseball from Carl Yaztremski (sp) from when he won the Triple Crown that year, a feat that was only duplicated last season. I paid way too much money in 2007 to watch Game One of the World Series in Fenway. (Back when I was making good money as a publisher. Sigh. I always figured eventually they would find me out and know I had risen far above my raising.) Anyway, I have loved the Red Sox since I was able to read. It's in my Yankee, French-Canadian genes. Julie, Abbie and I will be sitting behind home plate at Fenway on June 16. There are few places I would rather be than Fenway on a summer evening. Cheeers! gb

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