Cutting the Cables

The cable television industry is broken.  Certainly, it’s not as broken as the economy (DOWee!), but it’s based upon a single logical fallacy, that viewers watch channels.  This is simply not the case.  When is that last time you said, “I’m going to watch a little NBC“?  People don’t say that; people say, “I’m going to watch America’s Got Talent because it’s what I consider quality programming.”  (Okay, maybe no one’s ever said that, but you see my point.)

It was, with this in mind, that I began a spreadsheet.  One by one, I searched out the shows we felt we must keep up with: Lost, The Office (the last episode of which had me in tears, I laughed so hard), Grey’s Anatomy, Jon & Kate + 8, Scrubs (if it has another season), and Project Runway (for Holli).  The goal was find legal, online ways to view all of our shows.  This mission was made exponentially easier by the networks themselves.  Both NBC and ABC offer full video versions of some of their popular shows online.  This means that, as long as what you watch is popular, you can find your shows for free.

Unfortunately, there were two casualties to this process: Project Runway and J&K+8.  For Project Runway we’ve managed to find another, temporary solution (and the show’s almost over anyway), but jayenkayplusay seems to have no decent online presence.  We’ve decided that we can purchase VHS tapes for Carol to use to tape the show for us.  However, with us being short a VCR, this means we will only be able to watch the show when we’re there.  If anyone has any other ideas regarding this dilemma, please leave a comment.

EDIT: After doing some research for this post, I discovered that TLC has added JK8 to their video library, boasting entire episodes of the latest season until the end of December.

After doing the research and adding up the potential cost of this new method, we sat back in awe.  The results were astounding.  We discovered that we could save around $37.90 a month by getting our television online.  iTV was our winner.

It’s been two weeks since we made our choice, and so far it’s going well.  Also, we’ve been doing it a lot more.  And by “doing it” I mean reading, of course.  Holli has turned into a voracious reader, even though her work hours are getting closer and closer to full-time.  I split my time between reading, Half-Life 2, and programming/research.  It’s much quieter, and I feel better reading than I do watching TV.  With all this new reading time, I have a goal to read and remove enough books from my “library” to allow us to get rid of a bookshelf.  There’s one shelf in particular that could use a chucking.

If you’ve been considering getting rid of TV, be ready to fill that time with something.  Do some research to see if your “must have” shows have an online equivalent.  Our goal wasn’t to get our TV for free, but to get it online somehow.  Even if you have to pay $1.99 or $2.99 per episode, that cost will still be much lower than paying for a full cable subscription.

Have any of you done this?  Do you have any tips for would-be switchers?

9 Replies to “Cutting the Cables”

  1. you can get quite a few channels in Sioux Falls for free over the air all you need is an antenna! Yea rabbit years or does your tv not dummy down to air waves?

  2. The only thing I miss about cable television right now is 1) we’re not using our nice TV for TV-watching (this will really hurt when it comes to LOST when we’re used to watching it in HD – maybe by then we’ll decide to pick it up again) and 2) scared to death that someone will talk about one of our shows before we’ve had a chance to see it (again, this will really hurt when it comes to LOST).

    But I have become a reader. Marriage has changed me.

  3. I know most major networks do provide online access to the most recent episodes of shows. I recently found out showtime has a you tube account where you can watch Dexter on. As far as finding all your shows online in an easy to view format and high quality I don’t think anything comes closer than

    I will tell you one think I can find much higher quality HDTV rips illegally than I can find free ad supported online TV shows. That in itself should be a sign that maybe what the TV studios have to offer is just not enough to replace conventional TV yet. Then again that’s maybe exactly what they want, to protect their massive multichannel revenue stream.

  4. I didn’t get rid of cable all together because I couldn’t get anything even with an antenna below the hill. But, I did make a conscious decision to get basic cable as a way to save a little dough. I save about $300 a year. My two faves aren’t on my channels, but I’m able to watch them online too. If I think of it I set a timer at Mom’s and record them to VHS. Way to check things out, good thinking. It really is amazing what a little change can do.

  5. Funny story- because my cable, internet, and home phone are all a “one-wire” deal… it would cost me $10 MORE a month if I would cancel cable and keep the other two services.

    Feel free to come over and watch John and Kate Plus 8 anytime. Now I know why we’re friends. Myzo!

  6. I started watching my TV online this summer. 1) I am cheap and don’t want to pay for the 40-some channels I never watch. 2) I’m never home to watch my shows when they are on so I would end up watching them online anyway. I just miss the news. My antenna doesn’t get the greatest reception here in Vermillion and miss out on the Sioux Falls stations.

  7. I’m strongly considering the exact same strategy as you took Miles (and Holli). I rarely watch any TV unless it is a sports game and I never watch TV shows unless I watch them on DVD. The only reason I would even buy a TV is to play video games, but I think that within a few years I will drop those to read even more than I already try to do.

    I figured that out after having a TV sitting in my room for a year that was never actually plugged in. It basically just served as a taller entertainment stand. Consequently, I decided that I would be much more inclined to read a book or spend time on the internet than I would be to watch TV.

    Also, depending on the shelf you’d be eliminating, I would strongly consider taking (or buying) some of the books you are hoping to remove. Specifically, the rows and rows of Nancy Drew and Babysitter’s Club that you’ve collected over the years (Miles).

    But seriously, keep me in mind for the book disposal. And way to be a pioneer in the “dropping cable for greener pastures” frontier. I appreciate the risk you’ve taken and plan to jump on the band(covered)wagon soon.

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