Well we did it. Our family of four went an entire year without cable, and we aren’t going back.
Last week I found out we aren’t alone – more and more Canadians are blowing up their TV’s. The Canadian Press recently wrote that “Canadians who shun TV tend to be young and well educated, commute by walking or public transit and prefer the arts over sports, according to a report”. While I do prefer arts over sports, I’m none of the others.
To be honest, I have never been much of a TV watcher. I hate commercials, and I like to watch things when I have the time to watch them, not when a network decides they should be on. I mostly watch movies, and the odd show here and there. I would definitely not consider myself a heavy user.
My wife and I decided to cut our living expenses and tighten the belt a year ago, and the first thing we looked at was the cable bill. We were currently on a bundle – we received phone, internet and television all from one provider. Add in a DVR and a few extra channels (one level up from basic) and our bill was close to 200 dollars a month. Internet only now runs us about 60 clams – a heck of savings. Time to cut the cord.
Unplugging from the Matrix
I originally thought it might be hard to make the switch and dropping cable all together. We were pretty hooked on our DVR, and had all of our shows setup to record automatically. Watching DVR recordings is treat, as you get to fast forward through the commercials. The kids also had shows they liked to watch - Star Wars the Clone Wars for my son, Dora for the daughter.
I fully expected an all-out war from kids and lots of “Daddy’s a meanie!” None of this happened. It turns out kids will pretty much anything that flickers on a screen and my wife was content to get the few shows she did enjoy directly from the network’s websites on her laptop in bed.
Ways to Cope
We get most of our programming now through Netflix, which launched in Canada last year. Since we have Nintendo Wii, we installed a Netflix channel and we can watch it’s programming directly in the living room. While Netflix doesn’t have the latest shows, it has a ton of content and the kids were forced to expand their horizons. My daughter quickly became hooked on the original 1960’s Pink Panther cartoon series. Recently Netflix has updated it’s service with a handy “Just for Kids” section, which makes it ridiculously easy for kids to find their own content and not browse through R rated movies to get there. At $7.99 a month it’s a bargain.
Even though there aren’t a lot of other options for online viewing right now in Canada, things are about to get better. iTunes has a huge selection of movies and current TV programing available for purchase, but it helps to have an Apple TV (around $119.00 CDN) to watch them on the big screen. YouTube recently announced its plan to start streaming movies in September of this year for about $4.99 each. Amazon has also begun hiring producers for online programming and the Huffington Post recently announced that it will begin streaming 12 hours of programming a day through the week.
Of course you don’t have to replace one screen with another. I found I had time again to do what I loved to do in high school and university – read. My wife found the same thing and she has finally been getting through all the books she had stacked up on her dresser in the “must read” pile.
Have some other options for living without cable? Leave a comment below.