Saturday, October 17, 2009

Comcast and Encrypted Digital Content

It looks like Comcast is encrypting many digital channels that I could previously watch on my television. Previously, I could watch many channels that I get on Extended Basic cable in HD on a digital channel. SyFy, Discovery, AE, TNT, TBS, and many others was being broadcast unencrypted in HD. It was nice that I didn't need a digital cable box. Many of those channels have disappeared.

It would be nice to HD television, but I'm not "renting" a digital cable box. I've got enough stuff connected to my TV. I'm not investing in a cable card television either. TVs cost too much to be buying a new TV to get the latest new feature. If anything, I may end up dropping the cable television and just continue to buy my Internet access from the cable company.

Hulu now has a linux desktop client. Perhaps, I'll use that to watch television programming that I normally couldn't watch without cable. The other option is to buy DVD's of those shows or use NetFlix.

DVD's of popular shows average around $50 for the season. My extended cable costs ~$45/mth or ~$540/year. For that much money, seaons of 10 programs could be purchased every year. Most seasons of a particular program like House ($35) has 24 episodes. This means that ~240 hours of programming could be bought. (Really it's less, because an episode is about 50 minutes.)

Or, more could be bought if you factored in the cost of digital cable. If digital cable with HD support cost $100/mth or 24 seasons of television programs for a year. That's a lot of television. Of course you can't watch sports on ESPN.

Sports would be the biggest problem. If you love sports, you're still tied to cable. Some of the problem could be mitigated by using Over The Air broadcast reception. That is limited to the local station broadcast and the ability to receive those.

Overall, considering the quality of programming, the cost, and the awful boxes that have to be connected to receive the higher quality broadcasts; it doesn't seem worth it to have cable except as a connection to the Internet. If I need to hook a box up to my tv, I might as well use a computer that would allow me to read my email and use a keyboard. The Wii, Xbox, and Playstation aren't good enough for that. They suck.

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