Since we have become a one income household, sometimes we have had to look for ways to trim the fat in our budget. For some time, we had been looking at the cable box with leering eyes. It knew it’s days were numbered, and thus tried to hide behind the DVD player. Alas, poor cable box, it’s efforts were to no avail. “Hey,” I explained, “We had some good times. You helped us through the late months of pregnancy and early months of infancy—when we were up all night feeding the baby and waiting for it to sleep. But, as they say, all good things come to an end. Sorry, old buddy.” So, although kicking and screaming, we finally made the leap into a world without cable.
This bleak new world frightened us. For awhile we cowered beneath the bedspread, afraid to look out into the dark living room, which housed no signs of life other than the sleeping cats on the couch. But we did our homework, and found ways to arm ourselves with small-screen entertainment regardless. Since our TV had a built-in receiver, we bought a digital antennae from Best Buy. We now get five channels, all in high-definition: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and the CW. So no Fox, but sometimes that’s a good thing. “So You Think You Can Dance,” I’m looking at you.
All jokes aside, it’s easy for me to talk since it seems like we have enough tech in the house to start another space program. We bought Apple TV when it first came out, which gives us many options. Of course we can rent movies and TV shows from iTunes, but we can also access YouTube if needed. Most importantly, we can download and/or stream video podcasts, which are surprisingly useful and entertaining if you know where to look. Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have different media options, and both have free video game trailers available for download. The PlayStation Network has some free TV episodes available from time to time, but to be honest, it’s slim pickins. However, our prize possession is our new Roku box, which is most famous for giving its users access to their Netflix instant streaming queue. Originally, my wife was reticent to spend the money on it, but after many attempts of explaining what it was, I eventually wore her down.
“It’s one of those things that once you have it, you will wonder why you didn’t have it all along. A real game changer.”
As it turns out, cutting the cable has been beneficial for more reasons than just saving money. Since cable companies compress their signal, the picture from an antennae is actually clearer and sharper than cable. Having fewer broadcast-quality choices also helps with ADD, since you can’t flip through 70 channels for hours at a time. Also, not having cable makes you search out things you might not have otherwise, like Internet programming. I’ve learned a lot from watching Revision 3 and CNET shows, among others. More importantly, less choices means less distraction and temptation when you really should be doing something else. Personally, I’m glad we miss out on some of the terrible shows I’ve been hearing about, like “Jersey Shore” and that pregnant teenage mother thing on MTV.
My wife misses the luxury of cable; it was her guilty pleasure. I, however, don’t miss it at all. Our running joke in the house when some terrible show happens to be on:
I proclaim, “That’s it, I’m going to cancel the cable!”
Then my wife will simply say, “We already did that.”
“Oh, we’re covered then.”
I’ve read blogs from some people who have cut TV out altogether in their households. There is a “No TV Week” movement going on now. I admire these people, I really do. However, look, I ‘m shallow; I like television, it’s fun escapism at times, and although we cut the cable you’ll have to pry my TV from my cold dead hands if you want it. In any case, at least we have a happy medium now. Though one thing about not having cable is that we don’t have a DVR. So we have to watch everything on broadcast TV in real-time. So I better go watch “The Office,” because it’s on right now.
Has the idiot box captured your family? Is anyone else out there thinking about making the break from cable?