For the last 2 years, I haven't had cable TV. There. I said it. Frankly, it's a relief to get that off my chest. I didn't have cable. And for someone who runs a company that serves many clients who deal with TV advertising, that always felt a little awkward. But as you can probably guess from the fact that a) I'm admitting it and b) I'm using the past tense, I'm no longer a cable cutter. I'm a cable returner. Yes, that's right. I re-signed and now happily pay for cable TV services. I thought I'd share with you some reasons why I left and some reasons why I came back.
Life stage really matters
I cancelled cable TV because I had two young kids and was knackered all the time. It wasn't because of ads, or targeting, or the quality of the content. It wasn't even particularly about how much it cost. It was because I was going to bed at 9.30 (on a good day) or 10.00 and didn't have time to watch anything.
Now my kids are older, and I don't go to bed at quite such a geriatric time. It's pretty simple, and yet too often, our industry all but ignores life stage as a factor in consumer decisions. It doesn't fit into our neat targeting buckets which may be why we don't seem to consider it much, but, in real life, life stage really matters.
TV offers connection to community
Instead of TV, I would typically go to Netflix if I wanted to watch something. It's a great product but it's a transnational product with no particular connection to a particular country, city or community. There's no sports on it, nothing local, nothing particular to where I live. In practice, transnational ends up meaning American. And I chose to live in Canada, not America. I want my kids to grow up seeing the country and the city they live in reflected back to them, to grow roots in their city and their country. Netflix doesn't do that, by choice. Indeed, it increasingly talks of itself as a global company. Which is fine. But you can't sink roots into the whole globe when you live in one part of it. I wanted those roots for my boys and for me, even if that meant watching the Maple Leafs.
Good content you don't have to choose
Sometimes you just want to watch something. You don't want award-winning Norwegian dramas about anxious policemen or challenging documentaries about the stinging indignities of the food chain. You just want to sit back, relax and be entertained. Non-linear media like Netflix makes you more conscious of your choices, because you have to actually choose something. TV is great partly because it not only offers some great, 'worthy' content but also stuff that's great to veg out to. And crucially, it's content that you don't have to actively choose; it's just on.