How many people are looking at alternatives to pay TV?
A couple of years ago, I looked at the $100/month pay TV bill and determined we regularly watched less than 20 hours a month that wasn't available over-the-air or from one of our other sources (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video)--ignoring cartoon channels. (That was before Mythbusters was on Amazon Prime.) I boosted the internet speed and dropped the TV subscription and set up a media server (Plex on Ubuntu with a few TB of RAID) so I could deliver the video collection anywhere in the house easily. We haven't regretted the change. We spend less time watching TV, more time doing other things like reading, playing games, writing, etc. Some of those are still solitary pursuits, but probably healthier than watching TV. (Especially when I consider how much I ate in front of the TV but don't eat now. :) )
What are you experiences? Why have you or have you not cut the cord? Thinking about it?
yep i'm in the same boat, i wish there was a pay per channel service.
I hate paying to watch 3 station and 600 channels of crap + ads.
i wanted to cut the cord time and time again then NBA season comes back around and i'm stuck.
so it goes. as soon as NBAtv is offered on my WD media HUB i'm out.
The perils of being a sports fan. :)
FWIW, Roku has NBA, NFL, MLB, and the other major US sports--and costs about a month or two of cable. The math might work out favorably over a year or two.
We're moving house next month and it's going.
We did the maths and figure for what we spend on TV we can buy a couple of DVD box sets, or a whole bunch of shows on iTunes. Mix that in with the free to air shows and it's a much better deal.
The big gotcha is finding a good broadband package - the local cable operator runs broadband, TV and phone packages (the phone is compulsory - if you don't have it they charge you for it anyway. Calls cost way more than from my mobile). The other companies offer BB&Phone but with tighter usage limits. Getting BB without a phone is impossible.
That kind of lock-in is annoying. In the US I think providers are required to offer bare data services. They don't like to (ATT keeps wasting paper to tell me about their latest TV deal), but they do it. A few years back, ordering bare DSL was hard. Now you can find bare DSL and bare Uverse data on their website, but the cable companies are still prone to hide bare data service--which is one more reason I don't want to deal with them if I can avoid them.
But I gather you're in BT territory, not ATT. :) It's interesting to see how the markets are different in different parts of the world.
We were looking for ways to cut down on monthly expenses a few years back and dropped our cable package too. We found that over-the-air HD was a higher quality signal (no compression by the cable company) and came in crystal clear on a few major network channels. We've supplemented that with Hulu Plus ($8/mo) and the occasional iTunes/Amazon purchase as needed.
Also, our 3-year-old loves to watch tv so it is great that we can limit it with DVDs of specific shows. No commercials, no "one more cartoon" mess. We can pick a DVD knowing how long the show or movie will run. Perfect!
A few shows are harder to watch as they are broadcast, so we are not be able to keep up with the water cooler chat or be on Twitter while they are airing. Occasionally someone mentions "that annoying/odd/funny/famous commercial" and I have no idea what they are talking about. The Olympics also had very low online coverage options and that was disappointing to my wife. Otherwise, we've watched less tv than ever and are happy that way!
Here in the UK the online Olympic coverage was amazing. The BBC released an iPad Olympics app, and were streaming 24 (TWENTY FOUR!) online channels of coverage. I didn't actually watch any of it, but I was still impressed.
Between the ages of 3 and 4 my son managed to destroy the drive mechansim on the PS3 by shoving DVD's and anything he could find in there. At one point he somehow managed to get four disks in at once. He's much better now, but generally we found having RIP's of the kids favourite DVDs a life saver. Not only does it save the discs from getting scratched, but when they wake up at 6 am its far easier to just scroll through a few menus the fumble around half asleep trying to find the right disc in the wrong box.
I second ripping media to softcopy and serving it up over the local network. So much easier than managing the physical media.
>> Otherwise, we've watched less tv than ever and are happy that way!
Within six months of getting a DVR with satellite TV many years ago (seems like), we'd stopped watching live TV except on rare occasions. There wasn't much water cooler chatter at work. (I spend significant amounts of time with a headset on participating in meetings and such, so I was often on the phone while visiting the water cooler. Always remember to mute the headset before walking into the bathroom. :) )
After we dropped pay TV, we just don't watch much broadcast TV. Occasionally the local news or the local PBS station, but almost never anything else. Wife watches L&O and the like on Netflix. Son and I watch Mythbusters from Amazon. We watch video from the media library and occasionally find stuff on Netflix or Amazon. (Son has been reading Redwall books. We found a Redwall animated series on Netflix last year. Never would have found that on pay TV.)
I do regret missing Korra and new episodes of a couple of other series on Cartoon Network and Disney, but my theory is, my life will not end or be significantly poorer for missing them. Son was very concerned about losing Pokemon at first, but haven't heard a peep since shortly after the shift. He's found other things to occupy his time and interest. Most recently, WordPress on XAMPP on his flash drive. He's been playing with that and designing a web site he'd like to do about a Minecraft server he wants to set up and a CCG he's been designing for several years.
Once we came off of autopilot in front of the tv, I found myself getting picky about what I was willing to make an effort to watch--and found time to do lots of other, more FUN things too! Teaching our kids not to be mindless tv zombies is a critical geek parent task!!
Fight the TV Zombie Apocalypse!
We moved a week ago, and currently have no phone, or cable, and limited network. I found a broadband/phone combo that's going to work out at about $200 a year, which is a nice saving on the $80 a month we were paying. It goes live Tuesday - at the moment I've got a 3G/Wifi router that is seeing us through the first week (slow but usable, provided I can keep Alex off youtube!).
The house is wired with good UHF aerial feeds to pretty much every room, so just plugging in the TV got us about 70 free SD channels - lots of rubbish, but some good basic stuff. There's also a satellite with feeds to the main living rooms.
In terms of upgrading from the basics, the things we lost were HD, some extra channels, and DVR. It turned out that DVR was something we missed immediatly - just being able to pause TV was something that was pretty essential with kids around. In fact I found two cheap solutions that hopefully are going to complement each other...
We use the DVR in two fundamentally separate ways: spontaneous pause/rewind/record, and more planned recording of series. A Sony PlayTV add on for the PS3 seems to handle the first element pretty well. They're discontinued but I picked one up on Ebay. The pro's are that it used the PS3 we already have to give a nice UI, and DVR functionality for about $40. The downside is that its terrestrial SD only.
For series record I bought a Elgato EyeTV DTT. Again pretty cheap, and so far works really great. It records straight onto the mac, with the option to export to iTunes, so we can beam it back to the TV using either an AppleTV or PS3 (using a uPnP server). Being computer based, its still cheap, is perfect for archiving shows, and has a desktop UI rather than the whole menu based thing. Again the limitation is its SD Terrestrial.
It would have been nice to add HD, but the problem is that UK terrestrial HD uses DVB-T2, and most hardware only supports DVB-T. DVB-T does support HD resolutions but in the UK no HD channels use it. Obviously terrestrial HD hardware is available, but with a DVR its expensive, and stand alone so it won't hook into the network.
Elgato do make an USB HD Sat receiver, but the dish feed isn't anywhere near the computer room, so it wouldn't work. They also do a network satelite receiver which would let me hook the receiver up in one room, and use WiFi to send the signal to the computer, the that's also pretty costly, and I'm not sure how the WiFi will hold up yet, so for now we'll see how the SD works.
I have been debating cutting the cord. Right now with my two year old, he loves Disney Channel, and it would take some convincing to get my wife on board. I generally find more entertainment on the Internet and by playing video games. My wife, not so much.
Does anyone have experience with those outdoor HD tuners? They look like small plastic shields you strap to you house. Is that JUST local channels like NBC/ABC/CBS etc? Are there other channels considered local that I do not know about?
I have lots of channels I pay for and don't ever tune into.
I'm going to say the 2-yr-old will adapt quickly if you give him a reasonable alternative. Note that reasonable means "any alternative that's vaguely similar." I think between the channels' web sites and PBS (which runs kids programming during the day) he should be covered.
Any kind of tuner is just going to pick up broadcast channels. I'm within 20 miles of the local towers and use a cheap, indoor antenna connected to (and hidden behind) the TV. Your mileage may vary. One thing we found is that the local PBS station has 3 sub-channels in addition to the main channel--only the main channel is available on the local cable and satellite packages.
Try surveying your wife's watching habits and find ways to make it easy for her to get the programming she wants--either through some kind of Roku/AppleTV/etc., media server/media center, Netflix/Hulu/iTunes, or the like. $100 (one time) for a top-end Roku box plus <$25/month for Netflix streaming and Hulu is a lot less than most cable subscriptions. Try shifting her to the alternatives and then point out that she almost never watches anything that isn't available on broadcast or alternative, is it really worth all that money... :)
And, as I said in an earlier message, we watch less TV now and I don't think that's a bad thing. (Though now Son wants me to open a port on the firewall so he can set up a Minecraft server.)