I recently posted about ditching cable. I made the statement that my life had not experienced a substantial downturn since that decision almost five years ago. But cutting the cord certainly isn’t for everyone as evidenced by the comments section on that post and the e-mails that I received afterwards.
One reader, Donna, had this question:
“Just wanted to say that I am all for getting rid of cable, believe me. However, how do you perform a work around of watching programs that are on cable or being able to watch the program a few days later? For example, I love “Mad Men” and “Homeland”. If I choose to watch it live when the program is aired, I can’t if I don’t have cable. Right now, I can watch both programs “On Demand” but I couldn’t it if I didn’t have Comcast. I have asked several people how they do the work around and most express angst because they now realize that they can’t watch an episode of their favorite program live and many times experience spoilers and others talk or they see things online. I, however, understand the concept of being able to watch when I want, but quite frankly, there are times, I just want to watch a program as it airs.
One more thing, if you get rid of cable what happens to your local channels? While I don’t normally watch local television, I do like to watch news coverage.”
Here’s my response:
Thanks so much for taking the time to write me. I really appreciate it.
First. We should be friends. I love “Mad Men” and “Homeland” too. They are both phenomenal shows. And I will admit, it is VERY hard for me not to get to see those shows when they air or shortly thereafter (especially Homeland). Breaking Bad causes the same sort of trauma for many viewers. Cable really is essential for some of those better shows that you can’t watch on Hulu the following week.
Second. How much do you pay every month for cable? You should do a cost benefit analysis. I decided that it just wasn’t worth it for me to hold on to those few shows that I loved that were only available on cable. The monthly bill and the adverse affects to my lifestyle because of that bill just weren’t enough to convince me. Others, like yourself, might consider the cost too great and decide to stick with cable. That is a personal choice and one I wouldn’t fault you for in the least.
Third. Consider purchasing those shows on Amazon or Itunes. You can spend roughly $1.99 per episode to watch them on your computer. Usually episodes are available the day after they’ve aired. Unfortunately you can’t watch Homeland this way though – HBO and Showtime like to make you suffer and wait if you don’t pay for the goods. You could also wait even longer until the physical copy is released. I don’t like to buy DVD’s these days but my buddy and I split the cost of Breaking Bad season 4 when it came out. We were that addicted. And it was totally worth the $12.50 (my half) to get to watch the whole season in HD, even though we were still way behind the people that watched those episodes via cable.
Fourth. The “fringe benefits” of not having cable are big for me. I’ve found so much more free time in my life thanks to cutting the cord in my home. Kicking cable to the curb has really actually had some great side effects, especially in regards to my time, that I didn’t know it would have. I know that it isn’t for everyone though. Think about getting together with some friends on a weekly basis for your favorite show. It is a lot more fun to talk about those gut wrenching moments with the people you enjoy afterwards. Certainly factor those intangibles into your bottom line.
And on your local channels question – I get my local network channels from an antenna – one of my buddies swears by this one.. There are even Youtube videos that help you make your own high powered antenna. One of my other friends made his own. It gives him great reception and cost him very little. If you just can’t seem to get good reception at your home check out a new company called Aereo. They are expanding into new cities very quickly and make it possible for you to get your local channels in high definition for a small monthly fee.
By the way, another reader Anne asked me about missing ESPN. Even though I love sports all the talking heads make it almost unwatchable for me.
With the money savings and other added benefits are you convinced that cutting the cord is the right thing to do?
[Photos courtesy of Jason and csullens]
7 Comment responses
I definitely agree – watching live television is most definitely a lifestyle choice, and you have to decide if you can afford that lifestyle.
In addition to using an antenna to watch your local stations over-the-air for free, many TV stations have now started to provide their newscasts on their website. They are also using live streaming via YouTube, uStream and Livestream for breaking news such as ongoing emergency weather coverage. Over the last few months I’ve been able to watch live the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma and the doracho that swept through Ohio. The video quality is excellent, and can often be better than what your cable or satellite company can deliver.
Thanks for the tips Kevin. I appreciate you always adding value to the discussion!
In the comments on antennas listed on Amazon I saw where someone recommended an inexpensive BigLots antenna. I went and picked it up for $17 and I have very sharp reception for the local channels!
Alright, way to go Beatrice!