If you’re at all tech-savvy, your trip home this holiday will include a role as the resident cord cutting adviser for the extended family. Being the tech support person for your family can create some amusing conversations, but every family needs someone who can keep the rest of them up to date on the latest trends. Whether you’re answering questions, making recommendations, or just stuck talking to a relative you only see once a year, use this primer to prepare for holiday discussions.
How to explain cord cutting to the family at large
Maybe your extended family members are hipsters who are up to date on the latest and greatest trends, so no one will bring up cord cutting. Just in case everyone looks to you to keep them current, you’ll need a quick explanation of the cord cutting trend and how it’s affecting American entertainment.
As the family tech expert, you might be tempted to start a discussion about streaming services, Kodi boxes, and internet download speed creating lag. Stop yourself before you get started. Keep your audience in mind and leave out the details. If your answer is more than two sentences, it’s not a good topic for a family gathering.
Here’s an example of an easy explanation that works for any audience. “The internet changed the way most people watch TV, so people are canceling pricey cable subscriptions instead of paying for something they rarely watch. We watch shows on the Internet and get the main stations free with an antenna.”
If your grandparents want to know if they should jump on board
Research indicates most viewers over the age of 55 watch live TV. So, for the most part, they’re not taking advantage of streaming services or DVR’s to watch shows on a delay. The good news is that ditching cable is easy to explain to an older generation who have already experienced life without cable TV.
In general, the best solution for senior audiences is simple and traditional. For example, the solution you recommend should preserve the predictable experience of a show starting immediately upon turning on the TV and using +/- to navigate channels. It’s not that navigating apps, user profiles, and on-demand shows is too complex for seniors, but some may feel isolated if they struggle to adapt to multiple remotes, new interfaces, and multi-level menus.
An example of a recommendation you might give to the seniors in your family is to invest in an antenna. Most viewers only need an inexpensive antenna to receive the basic broadcast channels ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX without any subscriptions or fees. Using an over-the-air antenna to receive broadcast channels offers just the simple, predictable experience a senior expects. It also delivers huge savings on those monthly cable bills.
Offer to order and install an antenna while you’re in town for the weekend. Go to NoCable and get a recommendation by entering the street address on the website. Order a compatible antenna and have it shipped. Once it’s plugged in, all you have to do is scan for channels, and your work is done.
What to talk about with the guy who has everything
Everyone has that one relative who has the latest and greatest entertainment setup. If you draw their name for the gift exchange or get stuck in the corner discussing details, your best option for a conversation topic is to talk about a niche streaming service.
Talking about your favorite streaming service will keep you from getting bogged down in the details of hardware choices and system incompatibilities. Stay on topic with pop culture, and you won’t have to argue the merits of Raspberry Pi vs. a Kodi box. For example, you could ask if they’ve heard of Shudder or commiserate over the demise of FilmStruck.
Shudder is a relatively new on-demand movie service for fans of horror, thriller, and supernatural titles. FilmStruck has had a lot of media coverage after the company recently announced it was shutting down after only two years. Protests and pleas from viewers and celebrities were unsuccessful at keeping the service streaming, and it went dark for the last time on November 29.
The video streaming service served up the best films ever made – critically acclaimed classic films, art house, foreign, and cult favorites from the world’s greatest film libraries. FilmStruck’s excellent library was enhanced with introductions, trivia, expert perspectives, rare archival content, and bonus material that demonstrated why movies from pre-1980 are interesting.
A good conversation topic for the minimalist
On the other end of the spectrum from the A/V enthusiast is the relative who hasn’t watched TV in ten years. Kick off a conversation about how university and public libraries have expanded access to films that inspire, enrich, and challenge perspectives by providing the Kanopy streaming service to library card holders.
Since FilmStruck couldn’t generate enough subscriptions to stay afloat, film schools and classic film aficionados now solely rely on Kanopy to provide the only digital access to the treasured Criterion Collection of films. Kanopy makes 50 top Criterion titles available to those using the service through public library access and about 400 Criterion films for people watching through an academic portal. The balance of the 30,000 film catalog includes instructional and educational titles for topics like global studies, health, sciences, food technology, welding, hair and beauty, and library and information management.
Enjoy the time with family
Your role in the family as a tech adviser might lead you into some long discussions you’d rather avoid this holiday. It’s always best to avoid technical discussions that lead to you having to install hardware on your vacation. Stick to streaming services as conversation topics and point out the ones that have free trials. If you do a family gift exchange, consider wrapping up over the air antennas for everyone, or choose a niche streaming service for a unique gift experience that everyone can enjoy.
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