A Year Without Satellite or Cable Service

Well that went quickly.  I was going to write a summary post about living without DireTV/cable television at the one year mark but that would have been back in March, not in May or June like I had thought.  Here are some thoughts in the first 12 14 months without cable.

What the adults watch: If you’re reading this and thinking about making the switch, knowing our viewing patterns may be helpful.  My wife and I never got into the AMC, HBO, or other premium cable package shows. We are consistently happy with one or two network shows each year (Lost, Modern Family, etc).  We did enjoy House of Cards and Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  My wife likes serialized crime shows and when a Law and Order episode on Netflix doesn’t entice her she can find something else.  Each night we’ll also watch an episode of Colbert or Stewart via Hulu.

We don’t actively seek any sports to watch but we do like movies. Generally my wife and I are happy with whatever the public library might offer or we’ll rent something via iTunes or Amazon.  Since cancelling DirecTV we rented American Hustle and bought Downton Abbey Season 3. These a la carte purchases rather than buffet of DirecTV were good choices for us financially (see below) but also for our viewing habits. My wife will watch shows over and over again and having an entire season of Downton will entertain her a second time when she gears up for season 4.

What the kids watch: Netflix and iTunes dominate here. It’s amazing how viewing patterns change and how my daughters perceive this.  When they watch broadcast TV with commercials they are enthralled by the additional entertainment of the commercials. They are like 30-second mini-shows within the shows.

Letting our viewing be dominated by Netflix and iTunes has some advantages.  When I turn on a Netflix show I can watch it once to see if it’s a show that matches our values.  One example is LazyTown which didn’t seem like a good fit for us at first, but is just fine. The iTunes advantage is different because we can watch the shows and movies over and over again and take them with us when we travel.

Money: The impetus to change was how much money we might save. It looks like we’ve saved about $700 since cancelling DirecTV.  That seems great, but that figure only works if we haven’t supplanted it with other things and it doesn’t seem like we have.  We continued our Netflix service and use the free version of Hulu.  We did have some non-satellite spending though.

We bought a $60 antenna to have access to the networks if we need them. We’ve only done this a few times like having football on when people are over or watching the Thanksgiving day parade.  We don’t get NBC though and this meant we had to actually go to someone else’s home to watch The Sound of Music this winter. This turned out really well and while I wouldn’t do this on a weekly basis it made the event of watching it with extended family special.

We also spent $115 on iTunes and Amazon purchases and rentals, $80 of which were kid’s movies. Based on our pre-cancellation purchases, these are not uncommon figures.

Our habits: Our habits didn’t change as much as I suspected.  When I first proposed 10 changes that may happen when we cancelled cable I thought we’d play more ping pong but we’ve played almost none.  I did get right that I would do more reading and it’s become customary for me to enjoy a 20-minute podcast and dog walk while my wife watches The Nightly News with Brian Williams – which is free as an iTunes podcast.

Parting thoughts: Cutting out cable was easy.  Like many changes in life, thinking about doing something can be harder than just doing it.

Have you cut the cord? Let me know @MikeDariano.

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One thought on “A Year Without Satellite or Cable Service

  1. My wife and I haven’t had cable (or broadcast) TV for the past 1.5 years (since we got married). It really hasn’t affected us (negatively) in anyway. However, I did buy an antenna twice; both times were for about 3-4 weeks around the NFL playoffs and Superbowl. I returned the antenna afterwards. Used to have netflix, but realized that the public library has just about every movie and TV series, new and old, we could want. We read a little bit more (and, I listen to podcasts more). Other than that, I think we go to bed earlier than if we have TV…which allows me to get up at 5am to workout (something I probably wouldn’t be doing if I was staying up late). Also of note, we are 33/30 and don’t have kids yet.

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