TV shows consume our day. If the TV is not on, we’re talking about it (or telling someone to SHUSH cuz we DVR’d something and haven’t watched it yet).
The average American watches 35 hours of TV each week – a second full time job. That’s 5 hours per day! Incredible! And that’s just an average. So for every one of us who watch less than that, there is somebody else who watches that much more. Where do we find the time?
Anyway, it’s not that all TV is bad. A lot of it is very good. A lot of it is educational and beautiful. Other parts are healthy, entertaining and fun. The problem is how it sucks you in. Even the good stuff sucks you in. And it makes you forget that there are other things in life that are much better that you’re missing out on. And when TV starts causing us to miss out on that stuff, it’s a very bad thing.
So in my efforts to try and be a real man, I (along with my wife) recently decided it was time to cancel cable. It cost about $75 per month (not counting internet, etc.), so it would save us some money and encourage us to spend our time more effectively.
What’s great is that you can watch TV now in lots of ways. And when it comes down to it, our family really only watches about 4-6 channels. A couple news channels, a kids channel, the Food Network and a couple of sports channels.
I can’t wait for the day when you can only order the few channels you want. But I’m not sure we’ll ever get there because the media companies aren’t interested in our personal virtue and discipline. They just want more eyeballs on TVs (which = more money for them).
So here’s how we decided to make it without cable.
I can get my news online for free. We picked up Netflix for $8 / month to watch a movie every once in awhile and to have some good shows on demand for the kids and some foodie shows for the wife.
Survivor I can watch online for free, too. American Idol would be tougher. And the hardest part would be trying to watch the Texas Aggies and the Cowboys. But I figured if I really wanted to watch a game that badly, I’d go to somebody else’s house or to a sports bar. Sports is another thing I often end up watching way too much of and of teams I really have no real interest in (thanks Fantasy Football).
So, for Netflix, we needed an AppleTV to run it on our TV. We also liked the AppleTV cuz it made it easy for us to share pics and videos from our computers/phones/iPad with everyone else in the room – which was nice. So I picked up an AppleTV and got it set up with Netflix.
Now we were all set to take the plunge. No more cable. I was really gonna do it. For real. So I called up the cable company to cancel. I told them I just couldn’t justify spending $75 every month for something we really didn’t need that much.
They sent me to their cancelation (read: customer retention) desk. Here’s how it went:
Guy: “Sir, what if we could get your bill down a bit for you?”
Me: “I appreciate that, but I just don’t need it.” [intent on following through]
Guy: “Well what if I could do $50 per month or so for you?”
Me: “Sorry, still not worth it for me.”
Guy: “Well what price would make it worth it for you?”
Me: “Honestly, it would have to be something like $20-something dollars a month. I mean, basically what we’d pay to rent/buy a movie and a few shows online each month.” [that's probably what we'd legitimately otherwise spend without cable and I knew it was a low enough number to end the conversation here.]
Guy: “Hmm, well what if we took off your DVR? And I could get it down to like $30-something dollars a month for you?”
Me: “…” [that's a pretty good deal. Uhg.]
Guy: “And we’re running a deal right now where you get Cinemax free for a year.”
Me: “…Sorry, it just isn’t worth it. I gotta say no. And I would definitely need the DVR cuz the alternative, of buying/renting online, is on-demand.” [WIN!]
Guy: “Let me talk with my manager, just a minute.”
Guy: “Okay, $28 per month, same setup you have now, with DVR, plus Cinemax free for a year?”
Me: [uhg] “…Gimme a minute.”
[I sat there in silence wondering what the heck just happened. I REALLY wanted to cancel cable, but this was a really good deal. How could I pass up this kind of value? And it really would be easier to just have the full cable package with everything that comes with it...and we were still gonna save a bunch of money each month. uhg.]
Me: “Okay. Let’s do it.”
So now, instead of limiting my family’s access to television…we still have hundreds of channels and shows on-demand via cable (with a DVR). In addition to watching it all on our TV, I can now also watch and control all of it from my iPad. We now have an AppleTV with access to every movie and tv show you’d ever want to order and watch via iTunes. We have all the free AppleTV channels, youtube and other free apps on our TV. Now we have Netflix, where we get endless free movies and tv shows on demand (to watch from our computer, phone, iPad or TV from anywhere at any time). Oh, and a free year of Cinemax, too.
I suck at canceling cable. :-(