I Try to Buy One TV Channel from AT&T U-verse

I gave up cable TV awhile back and I haven’t really missed it except for one station, Turner Classic Movies.  I love movies from the 1930s and TCM has more movies from the 1930s than any place else except the 1930s.  I grew up watching old black and white movies late at night.  In the summertime my parents let me and my sister stay up late and watch the all night movies – it kept us quiet during the day time.  One of the most intense nostalgic feelings I have is for watching old black and white movies in a dark room with the TV creating an eerie flickering light.  Now that’s escapism.

I’ve been really missing TCM.  I can’t duplicate their movie lineup with Netflix, nor can I buy the films I want from Amazon.  TCM’s vault of old flicks is truly amazing.

Today, my wife and I went to the AT&T store to talk turkey.  Their website is appallingly bad, and the only way to get good help is to visit the store and talk with a sales person.

We walk in the door and a lovely young woman is standing right there.

“Can I help you?”

I hold up one finger, “I’d like to get one cable channel please.”

“Are you an AT&T customer.”

“Yes, we have U-verse for internet and phone.”

“What channel would you like to have?”

“Turner Classic Movies in HD.”

“Let’s go look that up.”

We follow her to the counter and she begins going through her computer and foldout of TV plans.  A sales person, an older lady, at the next terminal who is selling a smartphone to a customer takes an interest and offers to help.   She tells the young lady that TCM is part of the family plan.

“That will be $59 a month,” says the younger woman.

“What is the real price after the promotion?” I ask.

“It will be $80 a month,” she replied.

I didn’t hear the exact figure, all I heard was the eighty part.  “But I just want one channel.”

“But the family package comes with 200 channels.”

“I can’t get just one?”

“No, sorry.”  She was very nice.

“Oh well, that’s more than I want to pay.  I just want one channel.”

I wasn’t mad or anything.  I had hoped they would offer me their cheapest package and tack on $10 a month for TCM, but that’s not the way it works.

I check Comcast.com when I got home.  They would be almost as much money and they don’t seem to have TCM HD.  I was willing to go $40 a month for TCM HD, but not $80.

I wish TCM would offer a pay channel on my Roku, or an internet deal like Hulu Plus.  Or even offer DVDs for $15 each at their web site, but their DVDs are more expensive than that and they don’t sell the movies I want to see.  For example, here’s a great lineup of films I’d love to see that will show April 6th.  You might need to click on the image to see a larger readable version.

tcm

I’m thinking of asking my friend Janis who has cable if I can come over to her house at 5am that day.  I’d take a vacation day.  I wish I had a time machine.  Wouldn’t it be great to go back to those years and just watch those movies in the theaters?

How weird is this?  I wonder how many people are like me and love old flicks like these?

I’d go back to cable TV if they offered a base package of no channels and a set-top box with DVR for $15 a month, with an on-screen menu listing available channels and monthly prices and I could pick exactly which channels I wanted.  And no bullshit about charging extra for HD – the world is HD now, it shouldn’t be extra!  I’d really want more than 1 channel.  I’d like CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, TCM and maybe a couple others.  Maybe not either.  I hate seeing channels I don’t want to watch.  I doubt a la carte cable TV will ever happen, but it’s what many people want.

I’ve got more TV than I can watch now with Netflix.  TV I really, really want to watch.  It’s just sometimes I’d like something Netflix doesn’t offer, especially movies before 1940.  I can buy some, but strangely the oldest movies are often way more expensive than the latest movies.  Careful shopping on the web can find me a few bargains, like double feature DVDs of pre-code Hollywood films for $15.  But all to often, like the Warner Archive DVDs, they want $25 for a single movie.  That’s nuts.  If Amazon sold digital copies of the old movies from TCM for $4.99 each, I’d buy them like crazy.

JWH – 3/31/12

13 Responses

  1. Another TCM fan here. Those old movies are the next best thing to a time machine. Like you, I could do without cable, and indeed any TV at all if pressed — except for that one channel. It’s frustrating that there’s no way to get it a la carte. Especially since other channels like AMC no longer show classic, commercial-free movies.

  2. TCM is wonderful — thankfully, many many of those films are available either free online or through netflix. There are some amazing video stores out there… unfortunately, I’m constrained by location.

  3. That’s been my problem with cable for years. When I was growing up my parents had it and I had it in my college dorm for no charge. But since then I haven’t bought it because I only want a couple of channels, why do I have to pay for 200 channels for the 10 I want?

    I am like you definitely jonesing for old movies lately. Netflix is basically losing all their movies so I don’t know…. I keep hoping for a new service that is like Hulu or Netflix but with a bigger catalog.

    • I still find Netflix wonderful. I have over 200 items in my streaming queue and probably more in my DVD queue. Currently I’m watching Little Dorritt, the most recent version. But Netflix even has the early version.

  4. I agree, Netflix is getting crappier — they are being crafty though, adding more tv series so people get hooked for a long time before having to look for something new to watch ;)

  5. [...] I Try to Buy One TV Channel from AT&T U-verse [...]

  6. Loved your take on recent Prometheus movie, which is how I found your blog. Like you I was born in 1951 and love ’30s movies (and pre-Hays, etc). I currently have TCM, but lack of a-la-carte will eventually lead to me dropping cable.

    I’m posting to suggest exploring usenet for otherwise unavailable old movies. I have a cheap 25 gb block usenet account which supplies me with a constant stream of old movies. This is a current listing for films released before 1960:
    http://www.binsearch.info/browse.php?bg=alt.binaries.multimedia.vintage-film

    A web search for “watch old movies” also brings up some interesting material.

    • I didn’t know that USENET was still around. And it’s distributing binaries of old movies? I’ll check it out. I did find a site, fandor.com, that’s trying to be the Hulu of old movies. But their selection isn’t that fantastic. What I have found for a substitute of TCM is to buy old movies on DVD at Amazon. I’ve found several collections of 4 movies in 1 deals. I’ve gotten several western sets for $6-7 each. I don’t mind buying movies when I can get them for $1.50-$4.00 each.

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