Cable and subscription TV are cheating the consumer

Cable and subscription TV are cheating the consumer

We pay a lot for subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix and cable TV providers like Xfinity and DirecTV, so why can’t we get what we were promised? Access to great  basic programming and a commercial free experience?

By Ray Hanania
Oct. 15, 2017

One of the appeals of subscription television is the ability to “binge”

“Binging” has been redefined into a more healthy experience that doesn’t just involve over-eating, weight and obesity.

Now it’s less a strain on your health and a major contribution to your enjoyment and great entertainment and it is called “binge watching.” It was redefined by the rise of streaming video to your television and to your handheld devices like the iPhone, iPad and android cell phone devices.

Instead of patiently waiting to watch a TV episode of your favorite program each week, you pass on the show and wait until five or 10 of the shows have already aired and you go to a subscription TV service and watch them all in one sitting, one right after the other.

It’s fun and very enjoyable.

But it sure didn’t take long for greed to takeover and ruin that experience

Take Hulu, for example. Hulu has one real success. It has managed to destroy the enjoyment of “Binge Watching.” Hulu doesn’t cost much but they sure do promise a lot. The question is, do they deliver on their promise?

Not really. They are far from delivering what they promise because the owners have become robber barons who now care more about making easy profits then they do about providing good quality programming and a great entertainment experience to the people who pay them each month.

It’s the same disease that infected the cable TV industry. Remember they promised that if we paid them each month, they would eliminate commercials. Instead, cable TV has become the hub for paid commercials that distract from the enjoyment they once promised in watching programs on their system.

Cable TV has become little more than a profit-making venture for rich robber barons that have enslaved the public even more. The term “boob tube” doesn’t even come close to the bondage that the public has been placed in today by the new robber barons of TV entertainment.

The other problem besides lying about not having to watch worthless, intrusive commercials is that they promised we could watch anything they offered.

Well, that’s not true. You can’t watch everything any more.

Many of your favorite programs that you subscribed to watch on services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO and Showtime and other paid online subscription streaming services have to be re-bought. Yes, you have to repurchase them again, above the monthly fee you pay.

Here’s an example. I wanted to binge watch a program on FOX TV called “The Mick” which is showcased on Hulu. It stars Kaitlin Olson as Mackenzie Murphy, described by FOX TV as a hard-living, low-income aunt (loose, drunk and without many limits to her morales or sexual desires) who is forced to interrupt her wild life when her wealthy sister flees the country to avoid criminal charges and she os stuck watching her sister’s children.

"The Mick" star Kaitlin Olson, courtesy of Wikipedia
“The Mick” star Kaitlin Olson, courtesy of Wikipedia

Sounds good. I didn’t watch any of the episodes when it aired on the FOX TV network, so I figured, OK, I’ll try it. Maybe it’s good. Kaitlin Olson isn’t related to the old Mary Kate and Ashley twins, whose last name is spelled differently, Olsen, but who once dominated children’s television and quickly vanished from sight. Even adults liked to watch their escapades that rarely crossed the immoral lifeline. They were always on the right side of good.The Mick promotion board for the FOX TV series

Ah, but the “right side of good” isn’t what we want these days of loose morals and a pretense of modesty that really doesn’t exist in America except in partisan political mudslinging.

We want sleazy actresses like Mackenzie Murphy to slut around like happy MILF’s. And we don’t want to wait each week to see her slutting. We want to “binge” watch the series.

But we can’t. Hulu doesn’t offer Season 1, which only launched on the FOX TV network in early 2017 and is now on Season 2. You can’t watch the individual episodes. You can watch clips from some of the episodes in Season 1. And you can watch the last two episodes of the first season, and the most recent episodes in Season 2.Frustrating, incomplete options from Hulu make watching paid subscription programming there so disappointing. You pay for it but only get part of what you pay for. The series “Mick” is the perfect example of how Hulu disappoints.


It’s not just Hulu. It’s all of them. If you want to see some of the classic movies, now, you not only have to pay to subscribe to the cable TV providers, you also have to pay to watch the shows you thought you paid for.

I’m not talking about the specials that the providers organize and promote, like boxing matches or special series. I’m talking about shows that have already aired and you have seen for “free” (in the sense that you get anything “free” when paying for a cable service) already on the cable or streaming service.

And they are strategic about how they decide to impose fees for watching certain programs. For example, is an old series release a new updated series, they charge you to go back and watch the old series.

It’s only a few bucks, ranging from 99 cents a show to $2.99 a show. But that money quickly adds up and it will double your already outrageous monthly subscription fees that you pay to the cable services.

I wanted to watch “The Mick” but honestly, I’m not going to do it if I can’t watch the entire season from the beginning.

Oh I am sure the people at FOX TV will tell me there is a way to do it. Their way. But that’s not what I paid for when I subscribed to Hulu and Netflix and Xfinity and DirecTV. I have them all and more.

I expected good programing. I expected good service. I expected an experience that was worth spending my hard earned money on.

That’s not what we are getting.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. mail him at