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To Watch, Perchance to Stream

By Kathy Werner
Posted 9/24/21

Remember the good old days when television gave you a choice between six or seven channels? Up in Callicoon we could get Channel 12- a CBS affiliate out of Binghamton, channel 2-WCBS out of New York …

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To Watch, Perchance to Stream

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Remember the good old days when television gave you a choice between six or seven channels? Up in Callicoon we could get Channel 12- a CBS affiliate out of Binghamton, channel 2-WCBS out of New York City, Channel 4-WNBC from NYC, and Channel 5-then known as WNEW, and Channel 7-WABC. Later came WOR Channel 9 (home of the Million Dollar Movie) and WPIX Channel 11 became the place to watch Yankee games.

On typical Sunday evenings in 1958, we’d have to choose between watching Lassie (CBS), Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour (NBC) or You Asked for It (ABC). And we had to choose because we had one—count ‘em—one television set in the entire house. And it stayed that way for a long time. Other stations slowly popped up on the dial and finally cable tv was born.

I remember when we got cable at our first home. Of course, Home Box Office (HBO) was not a 24-hour service, but we were still thrilled to have clear pictures on our screens (and though they were far from High Definition, at least we didn’t have ghosts anymore). 

Now we have hundreds of channels on cable that we pay for each month. Ironically, the more choices we have, the fewer things there are to watch.

And that, dear friends, is why they invented streaming services. With streaming services, you can still pay hundreds of dollars for cable, but fork over even more to see the content on exclusive services. Netflix can cost from $9-$16 per month; Hulu costs $12 a month for ad-free content. Disney is $7 monthly; Amazon Prime is $12. Apple TV is $5 and CBS All Access is $6 /month. HBO Max is $15 monthly; Showtime is $11. That’s over $75 monthly before you pay your cable bill. Good grief!

How to avoid these ridiculous costs? There are a few options. Sharing logins is fairly standard in today’s streaming market. You could also just pull the plug on your cable, which is becoming more widespread.

My sister Mary and her husband John recently did just that, switching to YouTube TV, which costs $50 a month and gives them over 70 channels. They also got rid of their landline for telephone.

That’s a cord that seems even harder to cut! No home phone? Well, since it seems that lately the only calls I get on my landline are from recorded voices giving me one last chance to buy a warranty for my vehicle, maybe Mary and John have the right idea.

There’s got to be a less expensive way to watch TV. There are still only about six or seven networks that I watch with any frequency, yet I’m paying for over 100 channels that I never use. Anybody got a spare set of rabbit ears? I want to watch the Amateur Hour Sunday night.

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