Thanks, Rogers Cable, for Screwing Me AgainFor all the very long time I have been a customer of Rogers Cable it has had a very nice feature on the remote; a simply keypress pops up a grid of the shows currently on (and those coming soon) through which I navigate usefully to make choices about what (other shows) might be on to watch, and what is coming up. (The feature always makes me remember fondly, if not quite accurately, a line which I attrbute to Jerry Seinfeld - "Women want to know what's on TV, men want to know what else is on TV".)
So this morning (in the wee hours of my intermittent insomnia - and don't get me wrong, I don't really mind it), wondering what else is on, I press the usual button and some whole new unfamiliar screen is in front of me. After a quick scan I can get to what I want with a second keypress, and, since I pressed the button on a mission, I do that and complete the mission.
So, mission completed, I used later available time to study this new screen. The first thing I noticed was that it described itself as my new Quick Start Menu, and I was being told to enjoy it! Hmm, I wondered, what does this let me start more quickly than before? So I looked. I am offered "On Demand", easily available for the last years by pressing some other button. Fun and Games - ditto. Self Service - I tried it out and it seems to be a black hole. There is something called Daily Essentials, which I have explored and offers nothing I cannot get more simply some other way from the remote.
So to do what was the thing I most often did of these functions now takes two keypresses where it once took one and the things I never did anyway take the same number of keypresses as before. I used to work in software and this would be regarded where I come from as a significant performance degradation from the point of view of the user, and that is what it seems to be. I love the rather Orwellian 'Quick Start' to describe slowing down the things I want to do. Do they think this fools anyone?
Of course there is a method in their madness. Many of the features that you are forced now to consider, to get to where you actually want to go, are potentially revenue-enhancing for them; they want me to pause and say, "Hey let's check out that On-Demand thingie and buy a showing of a movie or some porn", or "Hey, maybe I want to play one of those stupid games and give them money".
At this point I would have fallen out of bed laughing at this cynicism, but for the cold of the night.
This will likely not change my behavior much in the short run. But the incredible availability of current television programming over the internet is definitely causing me to think about the marginal benefits of various cable pricings versus the marginal costs. Moreover, the current CRTC brouhaha over fee for carriage will likely only increase the cost side with no benefit to me, so I am starting to calculate carefully the point at which I cancel all the premium cable services . The cable providers are just making them far too expensive compared with alternatives (in economics terms, substitutes) I can find elsewhere at the margin.
I cannot believe I am alone in this, even if others might not describe it this way. There is a potential house of cards here. I for one will feel a sense of satisfaction as it comes down; and likely in some predicatable way - people like me start abandoning the service (I know of several in the process), then the regulatory authority comnpensates by allowing an increase of fees, and we are into an ugly positive feedback loop. I will enjoy it!
I like capitalism, and it would be much better if it weren't for such stupid capitalists.