I pulled the plug on an old friend this weekend. I got rid of my cable TV package. Primarily because Oprah’s show was ending… j/k… well, maybe… 😉
The End of My Cable TV Life
It was Saturday morning and my girlfriend and I were watching ‘Americas Best Dance Crew.’ I don’t even know why. I have no desire in that show, nor had I ever watched it. Maybe because ‘AC Slater’ and his dimple-ish face grabbed my attention amongst the 100+ channels I was getting. Damn him and his tractor beam dimples.
Then it happened.
With Hollywood director timing, my cable went out right before they announced the season winner. My girlfriend freaked. “It’s gone, its all over! No more cable!” She was kidding, but inside I was a bit scared as well. What would life be like with no cable? I’ve always had cable, it goes with living just like electricity and water.
I had called a couple days earlier to cancel my Cox cable ‘bundle.’ It was running me about $160 a month, about $100 a month for just cable alone. (The other $60 was internet, which I’m happily keeping.) Nothing against Cox, I just really sucked at watching cable.
It started with analyzing my TV watching habits… I really didn’t have any. I had a few shows I watched religiously, and the rest of my cable time was spent flipping channels and settling for, in my honest opinion, extremely ‘sub par’ content.
‘Sub Par’ by my own definition. Keep in mind I watch COPS and Swamp People pretty religiously, so you be the judge of my content critiquing ability…
Each time I scanned my Facebook feed, I knew I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. Other than watching ‘The Soup,’ I never had any idea what contrived BS was happening amongst ‘Reality’ shows. Not to sound like a pretentious d*ck, but I was busy doing things I felt were more productive. Things that felt like they would have a bigger, better impact on my life than what catfight Holly Madison was in this week or who ‘got a rose.’
I don’t watch either show, but let’s agree it’s kind of sad that Jersey Shore has produced bigger stars than any talent from American Idol.
This all stemmed from a conversation I had with a friend a couple days earlier. I had already thought many times about cancelling cable and just buying the shows I like to watch, but couldn’t bring myself to make the jump. Having no cable seems scary. It would feel foreign, and naughty. Un-American even. “This is ‘Merica, and cable is our god given right.”
My friend was going with a Hulu / Netflix / iTunes / Roku setup. It actually seemed perfect for me. Hulu and Netflix at $16/mo vs $100? I was already a Netflix subscriber, and it looked like Hulu had the other shows I liked to watch. The one exception was ‘The Soup,’ but that was available via iTunes at around .99c an episode. No biggie. One problem though – what the hell was this Roku thing? Sadly, I knew more about the damn Kardashians.
It’s tiny, it’s small, it’s inexpensive. It’s even kind of cute. It’s black with some purple ribbon on it, Prince would love it.
Basically, it’s an internet device that connects to your TV, and streams content. It’s not locked to Apple services. Off the bat it comes with Hulu, Amazon On-Demand, Netflix and Pandora. There are even several custom channels you can add for free. A google search for ‘roku private channels’ will yield great results like FunnyOrDie, YouTube, JustinTV etc. Best of all, its starts off around $60 and once you buy it, you own it. Install / Setup is a breeze.
I don’t want to watch only on my laptop. I have 3 TVs in my place, 2 with connected Xbox’s. One of those Xbox’s still needed some sort of hard drive, which I solved by using a 4gb USB Flash Drive I got at a workshop last week. Because the Xbox handles Hulu and Netflix, those TVs are ‘juiced’ and ready to go. The other TV was in my bedroom, which had nothing. Hello, Roku!
Bonus – I also have a Linux box running a Twonky client that can share my iTunes / Digital Media to all three. Yay inexpensive technology solutions!
After my cable went out, I spent some time watching internet streamed TV / Movies. Sadly, it was Memorial Day weekend and having the choice of what I wanted to watch, I think I watched more than I ever have. It was gorgeous weather in Vegas this weekend, and I was glued to my new Roku toy, and it was amazing.
I never realized how much crap cable content I settled on until I could choose what actually wanted to consume. I didn’t have to scan through channels filled with whores and douchebags. I didn’t have to settle on something because nothing else was on. I watched virtually no commercials, and the ones that did play were the savvy, witty, Superbowl-esque types. It was great.
Is getting rid of cable right for you? I don’t know. My decision was pretty black and white. Why pay $100 / mo for shows I can get for $16 / mo. True, getting rid of cable is very scary. It’s something we had the luxury of growing up with, it’s been a trusted friend and a staple of our society.
Do you still need it?
Worst case scenario, I’m sure the cable company would love to have me sign back up.