Yikes, Maybe The Xbox 360 Can't Replace The Cable Box

Five families in the Boston area agreed to ditch their cable TV connection for a week and use an XBox 360, Apple TV or similar device instead. Stories like this usually involve relieved, money-saving people. Not this one.

The idea is that a person could avoid playing a cable TV bill by using a gaming console or some other non-cable-box for streaming Netflix, on-demand movie downloads and more.

Things didn't go well in this cable-cutting experiment in Boston.

We've got the mum who wants to turn on Dora the Explorer for her daughter but winds up with Dora The Murderer.

We've got the husband who laments that "they're trying to make [watching TV]into an active thing where you pick want you want to watch." The man just wants to relax.

The one-week experiment was compiled by advertising and research firm Hill Holiday. They could run this as an ad for cable companies.

At least the lady who swapped her cable box for an Xbox seemed less unhappy than the families that were stuck with Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee Box and Roku.

Experiment In Cord Cutting [Hill Holiday on Vimeo]


    Oh noes!

    A couple of families in Boston had to survive without cable TV for a whole WEEK!

    *Dives under table and waits for the world to end*

    Having not used it, is Foxtel on Xbox 360 any more passive than what these people have experienced?
    Is it channel based or 'on demand' based?

      It is channel based - same as regular tv - it streams the exact same thing as if you had an IQ box. There are on demand services aswell - in a separate section of the foxtel app.

    The man has a really good point. Great experiment!

    That guy at the end looked like Major Nelson.

    "We’ve got the husband who laments that “they’re trying to make [watching TV] into an active thing where you pick want you want to watch.” The man just wants to relax."

    Interesting comment. I feel the same way, I just leave channel ten on so I can half-watch it while surfing the net etc. I don't even think about changing the channel unless something truly awful comes on (in before "most of channel ten's shows then?")...

    What that guy said at the end is so true - "TV is a passive activity, they're trying to make it into an active activity." Exact reason why I've never bothered will any on-demand TV. It's nice just to be able to turn on the TV and watch whatever. I have all episodes of Futurama on DVD but I'd watch it on TV before I watch it on DVD any day.

    All of those devices suck without Channel BT.

    This is really interesting to me, because it does highlight the difference between what we think of as "TV" versus I guess the internet, or other 'digital' kinds of content delivery. It has very little to do with the analog/digital divide, or the devices used, it has much more to do with the way you engage. The constant stream of video is just a playlist... there is no reason that these services couldn't set up a random (or not random) playlist that just streams stuff AND allow people to skip away from that stream when they realise "Hey I want to watch another episode of that show."

    It also shows what a stranglehold companies like ComCast in the US and Foxtel here in Australia have on the content. Stuff like FetchTV will have a hard time competing for that reason alone.

    "We’ve got the mum who wants to turn on Dora the Explorer for her daughter but winds up with Dora The Murderer."


    I certainly have friends who feel like this, as do my parents, and even I won't deny the occasional appeal of sitting down, pressing one button and having something random come on...but I have to wonder whether it's natural for us to be that passive, whether it's inherently enjoyable to just be spoonfed, or whether years and years of TV being like that has just made us lazy..and the fact is, people may like that element of live tv on one hand, but on the other hand everyone on earth who has ever sat down and done that also knows the frustration of nothing being on that they want to watch, the impatience of flicking through channels, etc. And ultimately, a small amount of effort will go a long way; surely it's more rewarding to watch something you really want to watch, from the beginning, than to just go "ah hell with it" and stare blankly at absolute crap for hours on end. Even if you WOULD prefer to do the latter, maybe you shouldn't heh.

    That said, I'm sure these various streaming TV things are in their infancy more or less, and are difficult to get to grips with and have sundry annoying issues. The best thing anyone can do atm is download their favourite TV, movies, etc through utorrent and stream them from the PC or via mediabox or what have you. Unfortunately there's no easy legal paid way of doing that. Any system that requires payment is leagues behind simply doing that, in terms of ease of use. They really need to figure that out. But then yeah people still want it to be live, ready and waiting, not downloadable and then watchable...*shrugs* I dunno

      I think you are spot on the money.
      I think people are conditioned into just letting the TV be background noise in their life, even though they don't really enjoy it as such, and would enjoy watching something they liked considerably more. I think we have come to have a problem with distinguishing between relaxation and lethargy.

      The idea Adam had of a random playlist of shows that you could deviate from whenever you wanted to is a good one. It is true that the randomness of TV means you may discover a show that you enjoy, but never would have *chosen* to watch. A playlist that you can deviate from at any time keeps that random factor and gives you the interactivity when you want it (e.g. you just saw a show you liked, and would like to catch the next episode straight away, or you saw some show that reminded you of another one, so you dial that in)

      I can't watch TV anymore as I went without it for a few years, and now the ads are actually unbearable as are the bad cuts etc. so I watch everything on DVD or off the net, but I do miss that randomness of discovering something by just flicking on the teev.

    as bandwidth gets bigger n speeds get better and those technologies develop, it'll work okay though the way these people want

    So glad I didn't go with the Xbox version of Foxtel now. It seemed dodgy from the start.

    I don't watch a lot of TV, and I disagree that we are so lazy that everything is passive. Especially now that we look online for things we want. When I watch, I will have a few things I'm happy to watch, and whenever ads come on I will mute or change the channel. Most of the time I'm not a passive viewer and don't like the implication that I want to be spoon-fed.

    That being said, I don't want to have to tell my TV what to do every 30 minutes.

    I say good on those people who took part and spoke their minds. It's another example of technology companies getting it all backwards and trying to give people what they think they want, and missing the point because a) the technology isn't keeping up because it can't stream multiple channels easily and conveniently and b) sometimes people are just happy with the way things are. If you're going to change things, make it better, don't make it different and force people to learn it.

    Faster internet and near hundreds of channels?

    Cry me a frakking river.

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