Cutting the Cord

Cutting the Cord

LivingSmall finally took the most obvious money-saving, small-living step, and got rid of cable TV!

Woo! Hoo!

Cable/Satellite has been a thorn in my side for ages. It’s so unnecessarily expensive — and for what? garbage mostly.

But we do like sports. So about a year ago, I got an AppleTV, in part because I liked Netflix streaming and the little pop-up wireless doohickey for my TiVo was slow. AppleTV was pretty awesome, and, we discovered, you could buy a subscription to Himself is from Boston, and we don’t get very many Red Sox games on tv out here — they seem to think we want to watch the Mariners (really? sorry Seattlites, but they suck). So, and you can watch all the RedSox games, and you don’t even need a Tivo, because the system stores the broadcast so, if you’re like us, and don’t like coming indoors in the summer until it’s dark, you can watch the game later. The other great thing about baseball on the internet tv, is that you don’t get commercials (you get this restful blue screen that says “Commercial Break in Progress” with no extra noise!), and, as a bonus, you get the local broadcasts, which are also pretty swell. I just bought the NBA version, which looks to have more blackout games, probably because it’s impossible for any other sport to play as many games as baseball does. Football is going to be an issue, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.

But AppleTV is problematic in that Steve wanted us all to live in Steve’s World and only Steve’s World. So, no Hulu — because you’re supposed to buy regular TV shows by the episode through the Apple store. Which annoyed me. So, when I was contemplating cutting off cable I ordered a Roku box — essentially, it’s the other internet TV interface. It has Hulu, and Hulu plus, which for $7.95 a month gives you access to most network shows and some news. Also, Netflix streaming and a good interface inside the Amazon prime universe, where there’s a lot of other programming available. The interface is quick and easy to set up, and so far, so good. I can watch about 90% of what I want to — if there’s something else I want to watch, I’ll wait for Hulu or Netflix to pick it up by the season. Really, if I can’t get it, I probably don’t need it. Weirdly, the Apple TV has an interface to YouTube, which is in the process of instituting channels like the ones Hulu uses, while the Roku box doesn’t link to YouTube. I’m happy with both boxes — especially since they’re sunk costs and don’t carry subscriptions. I can just switch between them if I need to — or if I don’t watch them both, I figure I can just move one to one of Himself’s properties so we can watch baseball there. What I would like eventually is a link to the actual internet from the TV. I don’t understand why you can’t get to a real browser from your TV — it’s just a monitor like any other monitor, but I expect someone will bridge that gap in fairly short order.

The last part of my no-cable tv package was that I bought this slick digital antenna called a Mohu Leaf — it’s a piece of flat laminated plastic about the size of a piece of notebook paper, and you tape it to the wall. I now get two regular networks beautifully clear, and about six PBS stations (I had no idea there were so many). The only down-side is that while the signal comes in great on my TV, it doesn’t seem quite strong enough to work through the TiVo box. The upside to this is that I don’t have to pay TiVo anymore. The downside is that I loved Tivo. I loved not watching shows in real time. I loved fast-forwarding through commercials. So, that’s sort of a bummer, but on the other hand, it will save me the equivalent amount of money as the package, so I’m okay with it.

I can’t quite explain the giddy joy that getting rid of cable/satellite inspired in me. It’s probably been 25 years that I’ve been paying cable companies — and the prices have gone up and up and up and up. And the usefulness of the service has gone down and down. Himself just got satellite at the cabin, because it’s a vacation rental, and people apparently can’t live without tv, even on vacation. The interface is impossible. There are hundreds of channels listed, about 2/3s of which he doesn’t subscribe to. And yes, I know you can customize the interface — but you shouldn’t have to — it takes forever and if you’re not computer-y, it’s impossible. And who needs most of that crap anyway? I think I watch way too much tv and even when I had basic cable I skipped over the stuff on most of those channels.

So we’ll see. I’m pretty psyched about the world of broadband TV. I can watch what I want when I want it. I’m not bombarded by a lot of crap I don’t want. And while sports are an issue, they’re not that big an issue.

Woo hoo! cut the cable!


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