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One Reason Why We Don't Quit Cable TV

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No need for a big intro here. People will tell you without waver (or is it waiver?) that streaming boxes cannot replace a cable or satellite subscription until ... in the words of Huffington Post tech reporter Tim Stenovec:

That makes intuitive sense, but is it a surface scratch analysis?

Outside of the National Football League, you can access streaming packages for mainstream sports leagues without a cable or satellite subscription. I use the National Hockey League's NHL Game Center app as well as the out-of-this-world MLB At-Bat from Major League Baseball. I have a DIRECTV (DTV) subscription, but, lately, I've been wondering why.

I'm not an NFL fan. If I were, I guess the conversation stops here. The lack of a consistent and legal way to watch football without a cable or satellite subscription deal breaks the notion of cutting the cord. But, beyond that, what's stopping me (or you)?

The local sports blackout for one ... For example, if you live in Los Angeles and are a Kings fan (or follow the Anaheim Ducks daily), those games end up blacked out on NHL Game Center. That's easy for me, a Southern California resident who roots for out-of-market teams to forget. But, alas, not everybody's A) a sports fan and/or B) married to their local teams. 

Home Box Office (HBO) for two. But don't be surprised to see HBO open things up even more than it has with HBO GO (you can already watch a small handful of HBO shows via YouTube) sometime before the end of the year. And then there's a smattering of other programming -- ranging from CNBC to Comedy Central -- that I can either access piecemeal online or via Hulu.

That aside -- after chatting with my wife about the prospects of cord cutting, I stumbled on an emotional reason for sticking with cable. A psychological roadblock that keeps many of us from jettisoning the cable or satellite subscription.

We don't want to risk missing anything. We keep cable or satellite as a safety net. Something we know we'll need or at least want to have a few times a year (big awards shows, the Super Bowl, etc.). And something we hang onto in case something unexpected comes up during the year that requires a subscription for viewing. What if I'm not in the mood to hit up a friend or go to a bar when my time of need comes? 

Maybe we're at the point with cable and satellite subscriptions we were a few years ago with landline telephones. In my house, we have been using smartphones almost exclusively for 5-6 years. But we didn't ditch the landline until we moved about 3-1/2 years ago. My wife always balked at my requests to get rid of the traditional telephone.

A few iPhones ago it was a bit scary to go smartphone-only. What if there was an emergency? What if cell service went out? What if my battery died? All of that seems so silly now. For goodness sake, the smartphone -- thanks in part to the instant communication tools associated with it -- has become a lifeline in emergencies. And if something catastrophic or otherwise serious knocks out cell service, I'm guessing your landline won't do you much good. And you probably won't be able to turn on cable or satellite television for information.

Either way -- like anything else in life ... if you're willing to sacrifice (just a little) and enter somewhat unchartered territory, you probably could cut the cord today. Sure -- you'll wind up paying more for Internet service, but your bill from that provider will most likely go down. (I get internet service only from Time Warner Cable (TWC) and pay like $60 a month).

Cable doesn't have us by the short ones as much as many of those who complain about it contend. Generally speaking, it's what we're comfortable with. And, when we inspect our cable package for value, we often find, if we set aside what has become instinctive cultural bias, we're actually paying for a convenient and good deal

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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