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To Cut the Cord, or Not to Cut the Cord

by on January 09, 2018 5:00 AM


Jan. 3 was my wife Heidi’s 29th birthday (so she says) and our three kids and I delivered a surprise cake and flowers to her at work for lunch, organized by our daughter Brianna. Later we celebrated by seeing “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman --which we really enjoyed, especially the music -- followed by dinner at Faccia Luna.

So after celebrating her “national holiday,” at least in Heidi’s mind, it was back to the daily grind and all the New Year’s resolutions. One of those is doing something about the amount of time and money we spend on cable TV. It led to a rather intense discussion and at least prompted us to try something different.

So we ran an interesting experiment in the Battista household over the weekend. We decided to see what life would be like without cable TV. Jonathon, the Penn State IST graduate and live streaming advocate, removed every cable box to see how we would do.

The results are in. The envelope please! And the winner is...

A split decision.

On the “cut the cord” ledger I present the following evidence of life without cable:

Our daughter Brianna, who has been known to binge watch a TV series or two, read Dan Brown’s latest book “Origin” cover to cover over the weekend. Heidi read significant parts of two different books, enjoyed a long winter’s nap and got caught up on some volunteer duties. 

My 17-year-old son Ryan and I played three games of the classic board game Stratego, including discussing the strategies behind winning the game. We played a family game of Rummikub and Ryan and I snuck in a game of Ping Pong (Ryan whooped me).

Our son Jonathon and I had coffee at Rothrock and worked together on my website. Jonathon kept himself busy watching a few webinars on his laptop, and of course, had a serious video game session with his pals. I am thinking that esports has a future star in “Junior.” If you haven’t heard of esports, it is the rapidly growing professional competitive video game world complete with leagues and tournaments broadcast online and on TBS. I am saving more on that for a future article.

I personally watched three TED Talks, listened to four “TED Radio Hour” podcasts and a Business Builders Show podcast, and read parts of three different books. I spent three hours on Saturday doing a video shoot for my Pragmatic Passion website with Penn State communications major Derek Nungesser, and I had three very productive video calls with business associates. I also caught up by phone with an old classmate, Jonathan Wanderstock, and helped mentor a client on a job search. Amazing what gets done with no TV.

Almost forgot, I also gave my new Fitbit a workout as I took Barkley the Dog on a couple of long (and freezing cold) walks. On a side note, I am happy to report our young, former escape artist has been an almost model citizen since completing his training at the Digman Canine Academy. Kudos to Claire the Dog Whisperer.

Heidi did sneak in an online movie so that did satisfy her cravings a bit. We also attended both Penn State men’s hockey games with a group of friends (a big sweep over Wisconsin and a 10-game unbeaten streak) to satisfy our need to socialize in a group setting.

A lot of strong positives for getting out the cord cutters.

On the “keep the cable” ledger, I present the following evidence of life without cable:

Heidi was going through serious national news, HGTV, QVC and Hallmark Channel withdrawal.  Brianna couldn’t continue her holiday season goal of watching every “NCIS” episode on demand from season one, and she and Ryan couldn’t watch the NFL playoffs on Saturday or anything on BTN or ESPN. Ryan was “forced” to visit a friend’s home to watch the games.

Alas, live NFL football did us in on Sunday afternoon, as Brianna refused to go to a friend’s house or to a sports bar. However, the only TV in the house that we hooked back up to cable was the one in our basement which meant those of us who wanted to be more productive didn’t have the distraction of the games on in the background.

So I am not sure we resolved anything other than maybe learning that we can all live without as much TV, in general. Whether we can really save any money by cutting the cord remains on Jonathon’s to do list to prove it to his mother.

Look, I like to watch TV, especially “NCIS,” “Bull,” ”The Middle,” and some live sporting events. But, I have rediscovered my passion for reading, am engaging in the positive aspects of digital media by watching webcasts and listening to podcasts, and realizing I don’t have to watch every pro or college football or hockey game being broadcast as though I were programmed to do so.

There are plenty of opinions out there when you search the web for input. Of course, it is a generational decision to a certain extent as well. Most Boomers and the Greatest Generation folks want the ease and consistency of cable while the Millennials and I-Gens tend to prefer the portability and a la carte options of streaming services.  

Here are some interesting facts according to Variety:

In 2017, a total of 22.2 million U.S. adults will have cut the cord on cable, satellite or Telco TV service to date — up 33% from 16.7 million in 2016 —Meanwhile, the number of “cord-nevers” (consumers who have never subscribed to pay TV) will rise 5.8% this year, to 34.4 million.”

I am still not sure that we will go through with ”cutting the cord” just yet. But if this past weekend was any indication of how much more can get accomplished and how much additional quality family time can be had, and if we can find proof of savings, well then I may just cast my vote for giving it a try.

Ah, another New Year’s resolution that will be harder to complete than it looks.



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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