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September 5, 2015

Could you go without cable TV?

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Dec 30th 2008 12:02PM

Just say no to TV.When I'm not pumping out my latest TV rant for the ol' Squad here, I write pretty infrequently for another blog with some old college roomies called The Suite Spot. It's really nothing more than a bunch of disgruntled twentysomething males talking about whatever we want.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my buddy Keith wrote something that astounded me: he's canceled his cable TV service. And not just cable - I mean everything. Basic service too. The man is TV-less.

Wha?!? Just how the heck can a red-blooded American male say no more to cable TV? Good-bye ESPN? So long crappy late night soft-core porn? Farewell Desperate Hou... wait, nevermind. That one sounds great, but you get my point.

Is Keith still watching TV? Sure, tons of it. But he's doing something that many of us only use as a supplement to our normal TV viewing. He's watching everything online.

I can't even fathom this, but at the same time, it sounds perfectly manageable. Between CBS.com, ABC.com (they have HD now, too), and Hulu, you can get pretty much all of your hit network shows. ESPN360.com and NFL.com air a ton of live sporting events. Keith doesn't mention it, but iTunes has become a go to destination for online TV too. $50 for a whole season of TV the day after it airs isn't all that bad when you're paying around $100 a month for cable service. Some stuff you may have to wait for (House, for instance, doesn't hit Hulu until eight days after the linear broadcast), but so what? All you're shelling out for is Internet service. Doesn't sound that bad, does it?

Of course, the question I immediately asked was what about all the cable shows I love to watch? Simple. Netflix, on top of dirt cheap subscription fees, now has the option to stream immediately instead of waiting for DVDs to get mailed to you. So catching up on old seasons of shows like The Shield or Dexter are a snap.

Again - this really is sounding quite good. But I just can't see myself adhering to that lifestyle. I live for new TV on the night it airs and frequently run into DVR conflicts like fellow Squadder Joel. I have a hard enough time resigning to the practice of watching even one show the next morning online. The idea of having to wait a day (or more) for everything I love to watch is not an option.

But for some, having the freedom of no cable bill can add up to some significant savings. And speaking of money, while the networks are losing fistfuls of advertising dollars because DVR viewership is jumping, they're not making up for much of those losses with online ads. It's quite the conundrum - the shift to online viewing is something all the networks are addressing quite well, but profits-wise, it's currently not in their best interest. That'll probably change though and there will end up being so many ads tacked onto an online episode, that no one will watch it anymore.

Anyway, I know Keith isn't the only one who's adopted this practice and I'm curious to know what others living the cable-free lifestyle think about it? Is it really possible to exist in a world where you don't watch Lost until the next afternoon on a laptop screen?

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I must say i cant live without cable or satellite, though at these hard times it pinches the pocket.

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March 17 2009 at 6:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I gave up Cable TV in 2007. I currently use http://Spreety.com as a directory to find the thousands of shows across hundreds of sites, free and legal.

February 02 2009 at 1:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been without cable for a long time and with good reason. Looking at the tv guide, all I see is reality junk, paid programs, and reruns of shows I don't like. The few shows that I was interested in watching like The 4400 and The Shield, I rented them on netflix/blockbuster for less than 10% of what I would have wasted on cable. Anything that aired this past season, I'm waiting for the DVD and I'll rent those too.

December 31 2008 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SATELLITE is the way to go. It's cheaper than most cable places and I get programming at better quality and more channels.

December 31 2008 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, let's see. I don't have cable TV right now. I live off of rabbit ears (and yes, I am DTV compatible, ready for February).

Back in the 1990s, when I was caring for my ailing father, I used to watch The Weather Channel constantly on cable for the 18 months that my father had cable. But that was it. And way back early in the 1980s I used to watch MTV at my sister's house (back when MTV was worth watching). Those two times are about it for me and cable.

So, yeah, I can go without cable. Just not all that interested in getting it, and nothing on it worth spending money on.

December 31 2008 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eric f

hell no

December 31 2008 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband and I have not had cable for many years. We have 2 hi-def tv's and people think we must have satellite, but we don't. We have a high-def antenna that enables us to get quite a few channels for free over the air. I mean, we get 6 different PBS stations alone! We watch what we want to watch-when we want to. Netflix. online, our local library. It can be done, at a much cheaper cost than cable or satellite. Sports is harder, but even some sporting events we like to watch can be seen online.
We have seen mostly garbage on cable. Good shows can be accessed other ways. Why spend good money on cable when it's something that can be gotten for free???

December 31 2008 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I only really watch live TV during Football Season and March Madness. After that, it's really just the State of the Union Address.

I still pay for it though, because I feel I do have to pay something for the TV shows I torrent. I like to think that if I didn't download, I'd just use my tuner card and cut the commercials myself.

December 31 2008 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Is it really possible to exist in a world where you don't watch Lost until the next afternoon on a laptop screen?"

Yes, it is. I live in Italy so I don't have the privilege to watch Lost or any other show I like on TV, cause here you can wait from 6 months to 3 years to see an american or british televisione series. And they're dubbed all the time...
So yeah, I watch all the shows on the next day, when I want, where I want (PC, TV, the freakin' bathroom) and I think it's even better.
Happy new year everyone.


December 31 2008 at 3:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is what I do 100% of the time. I record the Big Four in HD with MythTV and watch anything else I am interested in online or via DVDs. There honestly aren't too many cable shows I'm interested in... BSG and Robin Hood are two recent exceptions that I've been watching on DVD. Other than that, I don't see any reason to get cable.

December 31 2008 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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