A Life Without Cable

My name is Matt Becker, I am an American, I love European sport, I live in the midwest, and I do not have cable television.

Or a dish.

Or anything.

This is my story.


Okay, that was overly dramatic, but the fact that I don’t I have cable or a dish I think is unique for most people who share my interests and my location. It’s just that my wife and I could simply no longer justify spending $200 a month on cable television. So a few years back, we cut the cord.

And despite the fact my two of my most favorite leisure time activities are A) watching cricket and B) watching Arsenal, two things that are made infinitely more difficult sans cable or satellite, we couldn’t be happier. We talk more, we listen to music more, we interact more, and we have $200 a month more in our pockets.

And I am still actually able to watch just about anything I want, with FoxSoccer.TV, Willow.TV, ESPN3.com, and various trips down to the pub when those options are not enough (no complaints there) – but the last few days have been a real challenge.

For one, the Mexico vs USA World Cup Qualifier was blacked out on ESPN3 because I do not have a cable package that includes ESPN’s flagship channel, or any cable package for that matter. And because the match did not start until 9:30pm, I did not feel like trekking down to the local watering hole, and so I was forced to watch the game via a legal, and free, stream on Univision.com – the only drawbacks of course being that the stream was not the highest quality, and the commentary was in Spanish.

It was better than nothing, but it was far from ideal.

Two days ago, the situation was more dire.

New Zealand vs England, day five. And I had no way to watch.

Sure, I could listen to Test Match Sofa like the majority of my compatriots were doing, but I wanted to watch!

Willow.TV used to have the rights to the New Zealand Cricket Board’s home matches, but they dropped them in favor of BCCI’s home matches, plus a slew of other rights, which in the end was probably the right call, but boy it was an annoying one on Monday night.

And, so, I did what millions of cricket fans the world over are forced to do: I found an illegal stream.

The quality was not the best, but the sound was good, the picture was okay, and it wasn’t the slightest bit choppy.

I normally avoid illegal streams, but Monday night was an emergency.

And while you might laugh at this, I really did feel bad about it. I do consider it at worst stealing and at best ethically murky.

But the point is, and here is the gist of this post: watching cricket (and international football) should not be this difficult.

Of course, I make it difficult for myself by not having cable, but even if one relies solely on the Internet, they should not be forced to hunt down Spanish language broadcasts or illegal streams, they should have access to every sporting event the world over – because that is the only way you will ever get rid of the illegal streams.

The access does not have to be free, but as long as the price is reasonable, people like me will pay for it. $20 a month? Reasonable.

The good news is everything seems to be changing in my favor, this week notwithstanding. I can order online packages for everything from the Tour de France to Aussie Rules Football to Major League Baseball – all for about $20 a month each.

This week, thankfully, was an aberration, the times they are a changin’, and most sports seem to be getting on board, we just need cricket and international football to join them.

And when they do, I highly recommend ditching your cable and your dish. It’s totally great.


Along the same lines, cricket is slowly moving in the right direction, as the BBC announced just last week that it would be covering every ball of the County Cricket season via online radio and it is going to be available WORLDWIDE.

For free.

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

We are entering a golden age, truly.

3 Replies to “A Life Without Cable”

  1. thanks for the tip about BBC’s county championship coverage going worldwide, i had no idea (in fact, i had previously thought their coverage was cutting back….can’t remember why).

    i was going to bitch about having to pay for sky tv to watch most any sport (excluding US based sports, to be a fan of boxing, cricket, or football one almost has to subscribe to sky), but even with the UK tv license fee, it seems to add up to about $75 per month. not an insignificant amount of money by any stretch, but neither as bad as i had been thinking.

    i have independent reason to dislike sky (i think rupert murdoch is a bad man) so i have no qualms streaming their stuff. i might get willow for the ashes this summer though

    1. Here’s a link to a story about the BBC’s radio coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/21880927

      I was surprised as well because I also thought they were cutting their coverage way back. It’s great news for fans and great news for County Cricket.

      I like Willow. They are reasonably priced, they carry a lot of cricket, and their streams, while not perfect, are getting better. They just really need to purchase more licenses and expand their coverage.

      1. thanks. what i’d hope to get out of willow is just a consistently available stream. nothing like getting up at 6am to watch cricket only to have the stream die 3 overs in.

        great to hear the bbc is so committed. it’d be a huge undertaking, given the sheer amount of domestic cricket in the UK, but hopefully one day they do what cricket australia did and stream county championship matches. granted that the sheffield matches looked like they were from the early 90s (and there were only 30ish tota), but it was still fun to catch a bit of it while eng/nz were on rain delay

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