Monday, October 28, 2013

Barely Related

I don't watch sports on TV anywhere near as much as I used to, partially because we dropped cable a few years ago (ten percent monthly increases, decreasing channel selection, increasing commercials) and the fact that aerial antennae can only pick up three PBS stations at our house: two from Vermont, one from New Hampshire.

For a while I subscribed to Major League Baseball's service but they begin their monthly charges prior to actual games being played, they exclude any and all post-season games, and they blackout your local teams, even when you don't have one.

I can watch most sporting events through dubious websites with equally inconsistent quality, but for spot watching it's okay. I guess I don't understand why if things are free with over the airwaves broadcast, why can't they be free on the internet? Sure, I could raise a seventy-foot antenna over my house but I don't want to become a hazard to birds, bats, and local aviation. Plus, it wouldn't get rid of the commercials. And despite the fact that a third of an hour-long show is commercials and that just as you get into the story they break for commercial, and then (assuming you've stuck around--which I don't), as soon as the show pulls you back in, they break again, the worst invention of all time has to be those animated monstrosities they show across the bottom of your screen while you're trying to watch a show.

You're in the middle of "The Middle" or some such thing, and a four inch figure strides across your screen from right to left, stops, folds his/her arms, smiles or nods at you knowingly (as if they know what you're really thinking about this crap), and fold their arms looking all cool and stuff as scheduling data for their next episode pops up next to them. Where was I? Oh, yeah, trying to watch the actual show that's supposed to be going on.

Anyway, money has killed pro sports for me. Millionaires playing baseball doesn't thrill me as much as athletes competing in a sport. This includes college football, where major programs bring in millions, most of which stays with the football program and only some of which gets donated to the actual school. The term "student athlete" is a misnomer in the vast, vast majority of cases. No one gave me a special dorm with special tutors and resources when I was in school. I paid my tuition, not a television network.

Netflix is my friend. I watch something when I want to and I rarely finish a show, because when I come back to it Netflix remembers where I was. I may not be able to watch the hit new show that really kind of sucks over on whatever network but I have never failed to discover things that would keep me interested for weeks or months, assuming I wanted to watch that much TV. Which I don't, unless I'm eating dinner. Maybe.

I'm wondering when my kids, who are growing up essentially commercial-free, grow up to be consumers of their own: will they suddenly tolerate one third of an hour show being given up to loud, repetitive and annoying commercial ads? And if they're like me, armed with my remote, don't watch them anyway--I just flick away and sometimes remember to come back, but rarely exactly on time.

At least that's the way I used to do it. Now I have Roku and Amazon Prime on the Roku boxes and whatever internet broadcasts of sports I occasionally spend some time with. If Chevy has a new car, I guess I'll have to catch the announcement on the car radio. Assuming they're quicker than I am to the preset buttons.


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