Do You Really Hate Cable/Satellite Enough to Cut the Cord?

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The cable-guy service windows, the shoddy satellite reception with a slight westerly breeze, the 107-minute hold times. Ah, cable television. You've been screwing the American people since the eighties. But your reign of terror just might be over. If you love TV but hate cable and satellite, you need to read this.

The days of cable-or-nothing are over, and Americans are starting to sit up and take notice. According to American Couch Potato study, cord cutting is all the rage:

Based on our TV Cord Cutting Model (takes into account economic conditions, annual subscriber additions, digital transition), we estimate 2.65 million (2.6%) US TV subscribers cut their TV subscriptions 2008-11 to rely solely on Online, Netflix, OTA, etc, 1.05 million (1%) in 2011 alone. We forecast cord cutters will reach 3.58 million year end (3.6%) 2012.

Are you ready to cut the cord? My husband and I have had just about every service known to man in our ten-year marriage. After watching our dish lose service every time the neighbor's cat breathed on the satellite and the cable company charge us $5 more for existing every month and staring hard at our three-figure cable bill when we only watch one show a night, my husband and I yanked that puppy right out of the wall. And then we danced on its little brass head. That is how much we hated cable, in all its dubious forms.

One of the satellite companies wanted to put a dish on a pole in the middle of our yard.

On a pole in the middle of our yard.

I in particular had a lot of fear over letting go of cable. I was raised with three channels, four when FOX came along. (God, that was soooo exciting. If I only knew then what I know now.) I worried my beloved TV would be unavailable to me, completely ignoring the fact that since 1984, some things have been invented, such as The Internet. Nobody will keep me from my MTV!

We now have a streaming subscription to Netflix, which is great if you have kids or are enamored with watching bad movies from the mid-nineties. I try not to get too married to Netflix because they are bat-shit crazy. We use ours for the eight-year-old. We also have a subscription to HuluPlus, which we use for all series except premium (like HBO). (Although if the rumor is true and they start making you sign on with your cable or satellite number, we'll just find something else, and I bet so will everyone else.)

To get our Boardwalk Empire fix, we have to buy it from Amazon, where it's not cheap at $2.99/show in HD. However, then I remember that HBO cost $20 a month and Boardwalk Empire was the only show we watched. I would've had to be mainlining Keanu Reeves movies to make that charge worth it. So four shows a month = $12 on Amazon versus $20 on cable. Huh. Don't I feel like an idiot now? (Also: I can't remember the last time I watched a movie on HBO. It was not in this decade.)

NEXT ... How We Did It-->

The cord cutting is enabled by extra devices, of course, some expensive, some not. We have a smart TV downstairs that we got last year, but upstairs is a totally normal-TV-made-smart-TV by the use of a Sony streaming box that I got for review. There are plenty of flavors of streaming boxes at all different price points, but rest assured, you don't need a smart TV to cut your cord. You can build one with a little box that can cost less than $100 and plugs right in to your $50-on-Craigslist-not-flatscreen TV. We also have something very important for local channels: an antenna. Yes! An antenna! Rocking it old school! And guess what? The antenna HD is better than the cable HD was. Oh, the irony!

antennae front

We mounted it on the satellite pole, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

The biggest thing I've noticed after a couple of weeks is a psychological change. When we lost cable, we lost the all-important DVR. (The DVR that cost like $5/month, Rita STAY FOCUSED.) (When I told the woman who cuts my hair we were giving up the DVR, she actually clasped her heart and gasped.) I was accustomed to sitting down after all the day's junk had been done and the girl was in bed, picking up the cable remote and clicking My DVR or whatever. Completely passive. Now I have to think about what I want to watch (unless I want to just watch whatever is on network TV JUST LIKE 1984!). There are about six shows that I like. So depending on where they are, I'll go to that whatever on the smart TV and search for the show, then try to remember which episode I was on (harder than you might think). There are many false starts. (Maybe I should write this down? Is there an app for what the hell episode you were on in Missing the last time you fell asleep on the couch?) It is purposeful television watching. Active television watching. It's almost like you did push-ups!

The other thing I've noticed is that I watch a lot less TV. Unless I'm mind-numbingly tired, I've been reading a lot more. It does feel like more effort to find my shows, and some days, I just don't care enough to go looking for them. Interesting development, eh?

Have you cut your cord? Are you thinking about it?

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