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Pulling the TV cord yet staying plugged in

ENTERTAINMENT

A small but apparently growing number of people are cutting the television service connections from cable satellite and telephone companies in favor of viewing their picks over the computer.

October 26, 2009|David Colker

The popularity of Hulu could be severely tested if the service begins charging fees to watch. Some Hulu executives have said that could happen as early as next year.

USC freshman Karan Lyons, 17, who is majoring in theater, said that most of the students who have TVs in his dorm use them only to play video games via Xbox and other consoles.

He doesn't have a TV, but watches a lot online.

"I watch more than I should," Lyons said, naming "Glee," "House" and "The Daily Show" as favorites available on Hulu.

"But I think it's better than when I watch actual TV. When I do that, and a show ends, it's so easy to sit there and keep watching the next show that comes on."

Shows are also available, unauthorized, on underground sites that are the bane of the TV (as well as movie) industry.

"You can download just about anything you want right after it's broadcast," said one user of these sites who asked that his name not be used.

"My wife asks for a show, and I can just go on and get it for her."

Cunliffe, who said he sticks to authorized sites, began watching online when TV went entirely digital in June. Up until then, he used rabbit ears to bring in broadcast stations.

After the switch-over, he could no longer receive some of his favorite stations, even with a digital converter box.

He was ready to give up on TV until he discovered how easy it was to get programs online.

Now he's ready to move up from his laptop screen.

"I'm going to go out and buy the cheapest flat-screen monitor I can find and plug it in," he said.

"I'm watching more TV than ever."

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david.colker@latimes.com

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