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Cord Cutting Is for Freaks, Not Most Americans

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, TheStreet's Leon Lazaroff published a pair of articles that perfectly channel the anger much of America feels toward cable and satellite companies as well as big media conglomerates.

In Time Warner Cable (TWC) Are You Listening? Cord-Cutting is Coming and Sick and Tired of the Cable-TV Bundle: Media Reader Mail, Leon does a nice job setting the most socially-acceptable scene:

Cable is a rip-off. We're tired of paying for channels we don't watch. We're even more sick of squabbles between cable companies and content providers. And we've had it so up to here that we're ready to cut the cord.

Whenever a high-profile dispute, such as the one that was resolved Monday between Time Warner Cable and CBS (CBS) lasts longer than a half-hour, the rhetoric ratchets up.

It's the perfect opportunity for consumers to complain about being screwed by fat cats who limo in and out of Midtown Manhattan office buildings. It also opens the window for you to call your cable or satellite provider, threaten to cancel and receive a bill credit, comp movie or discounted (or free) NFL Sunday Ticket (I have heard DirecTV (DTV) gives in to this extent regularly). Plus, it adds fuel to the fire for every media and/or tech journalist east of the Pacific shore to overhype the notion of cord-cutting.

Even as Lazaroff notes, via a researcher he interviewed, that "We are years away from pay-TV being meaningfully challenged" by the still-minuscule cord-cutting puddle, he, like so many others, overstates the threat. Like most arguments that involve Netflix (NFLX), there's an incredibly one-sided story being told. Or at least many very rational "other" sides being ignored, discounted or glossed over.

When we rant about the cost of cable and frantically claim we'll cut the cord, we poo poo so much, including another portion of Lazaroff's piece that actually gets to the heart of the matter:

How quickly and in what numbers people decide to cut the cord is anyone's guess ... (but) in an era of $4 gasoline paying $100 a month for watching TV, something most households do for five hours a day, is hardly the first expense families are looking to cut during times of belt-tightening.

Exactly. Because, despite all the hemming and hawing about the cost and structure of cable packages, they're a damn good deal, even for the cash-strapped. Riffs to the contrary amount to little more than misplaced anger.

Where's the outrage toward movie theater operators such as Regal Entertainment Group (RGC)? Go run the numbers on a family of four making a day or night of it at the movies? Without loser tricks such as seeing the 11:00 a.m. show, sneaking in a bag of bulk sweets and nuts from the grocery store or finding free street parking, a family of four is easily in for around a hundred bucks.

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