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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life after cable TV

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A few months ago we made the decision to cut the cable cord. Mike wasn't working, we had some medical bills to pay (we always have medical bills to pay), and we needed to trim the budget somewhere. What we were paying for cable TV didn't seem worth what we were getting in return --  8-10 channels we watched regularly and 192 channels that we could care less about.

ESPN and all its affiliated sports networks were really what kept us from making this decision sooner. When Charlie was 5 years old, he introduced himself to a neighbor, saying "Hi! I'm Charlie and sports are my life." Not much has changed, so we were a little worried that the withdrawal of the 24/7 sports channels might be like taking water away from a fish. But Charlie was already busy with summer conditioning for high school sports, so we reasoned that he wouldn't have much time to be watching TV anyway. 

The first day that Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were not available, you could have told Robbie that the world was ending and he would have agreed immediately. But we were already Netflix subscribers and decided to add an $8/month subscription to Hulu Plus to our entertainment options. Hulu has eased the loss of the DVR. Most of the shows that we would have DVR'd in the past -- Parenthood, The Middle, Castle -- are available on Hulu, ready to be fired up when we are ready to watch them, as long as its at least one day since the original episode appeared. And while we don't have ESPN, Hulu has an ESPN channel that offers highlights, feature stories and classic "best of " games, so we don't feel too sports deprived. 

We get all the local television channels and their bonus companions -- Channel 6, 6.2, 6.3, etc. I was pretty surprised to see all the shows we can find on the local TV. There are even a couple of throw-back channels where you can catch classic shows like "Emergency!" and "M*A*S*H," shows of my childhood. 

I will admit, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. We are able to watch the Colts on local TV, although it does seem like the TV reception wants to act up mid-game fairly often. We can still watch the game; we just have put up with a few blips and pauses here and there. 

I miss the Food Network, although "Chopped" and "Cutthroat Kitchen" are available on Netflix. And while TLC has a channel on Hulu, they only offer short clips of episodes, not full episodes, so I'm left wondering about how the plans for Jessa Duggar's wedding are coming along and how Kody and his four wives are getting along on "Sister Wives."

When Robbie is crabby, he defaults to "And we don't even have cable TV!"

The upside of ditching the cable? Besides saving $150 a month, that is -- there are some nights that our TV doesn't get turned on at all. We read, tool around on the internet, do laundry and dishes (gasp!), and even go to bed at a reasonable time. 

Mike recently began working again and Charlie and Robbie began a campaign to bring back the cable. But we are standing firm. I'm hopeful that at some point, the cable companies will come around with an a la carte pricing structure where you can choose a dozen channels you want and will pay for. Until then, it's free channels, Netflix and Hulu for us. 


Anonymous said...

Hooray! I've never had cable. I had Amazon prime and we added Netflix when my fiancé moved in with his account. I have been testing Xfinity Go which I enjoy, but I am not much of a television watcher and I prefer it that way.

Momza said...

We cut out DirectTV more than a year ago and haven't looked back. We did it for the same reason--to save money in the summer months, thinking we'd turn it back on come winter when it's too cold to do much else--and having lived through one whole winter, have zero desire to turn it back ON. We also have Netflix, but honestly, the TV is OFF more than ever before and I don't miss it. Not even a little.

Unknown said...

We just do Netflix and Hulu too, for some of the same reasons (job and medical). We are surviving and saving money too. :)