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Jennifer Van Grove: Why this die-hard sports fan didn't cut the cord and is sticking with cable — for now

Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

A lifelong San Diegan, Randy Ward was raised to be a Padres fan. Over the years, the 55-year-old plant operations director for an area retirement community, developed an appreciation of all sports.

Like clockwork, Randy returns home from work around 6 p.m. on weeknights and turns on his TV to catch up on the day's news. Then, he's on to some softball game, golf tournament or baseball matchup. Weekends allow for all-day sports viewing, even if just passively while working on other tasks like the day's crossword puzzle.

Pleased with his routine, Randy was as unlikely a cord-cutter as they come. But, because I knew he'd be a challenge, I went ahead and selected him to participate as one of three guinea pigs in my ongoing digital life series on cutting the cord. As expected, he proved the hardest of the bunch to switch over from his cable provider. In fact, he has yet to cut cable ties with Cox -- even though he is now far more educated on the cord-cutting subject matter and in a much better position to ditch traditional pay TV when ready.

"I'm going to do it," Randy told me. "Because it's ridiculous not to."

For now, though, we're going to settle for progress on the cost-savings front.

Today, Randy's monthly Cox bill for phone, cable and internet service is $181, compared with around $225 when we first started this process. It's not a victory as far as I'm concerned. But if Randy is happy, I'm happy, too.

RANDY'S DEMANDS

When I first met Randy via email, he told me that he was a year-round sports enthusiast who enjoyed it all: baseball, football, golf, soccer and hockey. Both college and professional varieties. Beyond wanting to enjoy live matches, he told me he required access to both live local and national news. Otherwise, Randy was flexible, willing to take or leave TV Land, depending on the kind of deal he could get.

The primary goal wasn't necessarily to ditch Cox -- but to save money, making Randy part of a broader national trend among TV viewers now exploring their options.

"Originally, a cord-cutter was someone who ... wasn't getting a lot of value out of having a ton of channels," said Paul Verna, a principal analyst at eMarketer who researches video services. "Now, a cord-cutter is someone who is still interested in watching a lot of TV."

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