Updated on 05.17.10

The Realities of Dropping Cable

Trent Hamm

Over the years, I’ve made a strong case for abandoning television watching as a good move for financial and career success. Not only does television offer up a lot of advertisements glorifying unnecessary material stuff and rampant consumerism, but many programs glorify it through product placement within the programs. Many programs solely exist to promote an expensive materialist lifestyle as well. Add on top of that the amount of otherwise productive time devoured by television watching and you have a strong case for doing without.

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly been paring down my television watching. I’ve stopped channel surfing, only turning on the television to watch specific programs. I’ve gradually pared down the number of programs I regularly watch.

As of May 1, I have ceased all television watching at home (excepting Lost, which ends for good this Sunday). This coincided pretty conveniently with the birth of our third child.

What exactly does this mean? Here are a few of the consequences of doing this.

I have plenty of time for other projects. Of course, I’m not directly seeing the time benefit yet as I’m spending a lot of time holding the baby and also playing with our two older children. The biggest impact I’ve seen is that I’ve managed to add this third child to my life without really reducing time spent on other hobbies and activities.

I don’t want “stuff” at all. I have no interest in new cars. I have no interest in whatever new food product is out there. I have no interest in great new home decor or furnishings or countless other things like this. The only things I can think of that I even want at all right now are a couple of items for the kitchen to aid with cooking, a few books, and eventually some sort of tablet computer to aid with notetaking in a wide variety of situations. That’s it. The absence of television leads to the near-absence of want.

I might not be culturally “up to date” – but I really don’t care. I don’t feel bad that I’m unaware who won Survivor or who’s still left on American Idol. Yes, conversations have come up that I’m clueless about, but I’ve still been able to participate. How? I simply say, “I don’t watch that program, but…” and then I ask a question about it. The person I ask almost always is very happy to answer the question and enjoys being the expert on the topic. My ignorance is a conversation builder.

Our cable bill won’t drop as much as it might seem on the surface. Our cable provider advertises our package as costing $55 a month. However, we get a package that includes high speed internet, phone service, and cable all together. Downgrading to the internet and phone package only drops our monthly bill by about $20 a month, so the savings isn’t that much. Even if we just keep the internet (which is a work-related need for me), the drop is only about $45 a month.

In short, I’m happy with the choice, even if it won’t save me as much directly as it might have seemed. I’m happy because of the secondary effects – the lack of cultural awareness wasn’t the hindrance I expected while the extra time has been wonderful.

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  1. PF says:

    Oh, you *finally* listened to me. I suggested this in 2007. LOL! We’ve been TV free for 17 years. One piece of advice: When someone asks you “Did you see XX show?” Never, ever tell them that you don’t have TV. People seem to take this very personally and get defensive. It really shuts down the conversation. You have the right idea by stating, “No, I don’t watch that show” or “No, I haven’t seen that” Hooray for you.

  2. Dan says:

    Cutting cable has been one the best choices I’ve made for my family.

    We’ve been without cable for over a year now and I went from reading ZERO books in 10 years to over a dozen in less than a year :)

    My kids now have more time to be kids, rather than zombies and the savings allow us to do other (more important things) things.

    My wife can still catch her favorite shows (legally) online and the lack of viewing non-stop commercials have given us much less to desire (as you have pointed out in your own experience).

    There’s NOTHING that cable provides that you can’t find elsewhere. IF I want the news, I can go online. If I want to watch a movie, I can either rent or view them online. Popular shows? View them online!

    I hope at some point everyone can cancel their cable and free up some time to do better things.

  3. Vicky says:

    Netflix has solved my TV needs completely, without all the advertising. And for $8.99 a month.

    And instant streaming makes me a very, very happy camper :)

  4. J says:

    Are you throwing the television out in the trash, or are you still keeping Netflix, video games, Hulu, etc?

    I’ve greatly pared back my TV, too. There are a few series I keep up with on TiVo, but I don’t actively sit down and channel surf. Plus I skip commercials, too. I do enjoy watching thirty minutes to an hour a night, which still leaves time for video games.

    How about your wife and kids? Are they also stopping, as well?

  5. JT says:

    Yeah, I dropped cable a year or so ago myself and never looked back. What I found is that I really didn’t even care about most regular TV enough to even track it down on torrents or hulu, and I never really cared much for sports, which is really the only good argument for having live tv in the first place.

    It’s not like I don’t find other ways to waste that time, but at least most of them don’t come with a monthly fee!

  6. J says:

    Are you throwing the television out in the trash, or are you still keeping Netflix, video games, Hulu, etc?

    I’ve greatly pared back my TV, too. There are a few series I keep up with on TiVo, but I don’t actively sit down and channel surf. Plus I skip commercials, too. I do enjoy watching thirty minutes to an hour a night, which leaves time for video games sometimes, as well as reading. I do prioritize reading over television and/or video games.

    How about your wife and kids? Are they also stopping, as well?

  7. Josh says:

    I just recently canceled my cable in favor of using my home theater PC and Over The Air HD channels. My cable bill dropped from $100 to $40 a month, and that includes bumping the internet speed from 1.5Mb to 10Mb. Our bill started at $55 per month, but after 12 months the promotion ended, and we were paying $100 for the regular (not basic) cable package plus an HD-DVR. No premium channels or anything.

    It’s nice because all of the shows that we watch are either free on Hulu or OTA, so we don’t need to pay a monthly fee to watch our favorite shows. It’s also encouraging us to watch less TV in general and spend more time on more constructive activities. I’ll be posting my setup on my blog soon to explain our setup.

    The only thing I really miss is ESPN, for MNF and SportsCenter.

  8. Kat says:

    I’m kind of over the idea that TV ads = excessive WANT OF EVERYTHING. I’m not into cars, no matter how many car commercials I see, I have no burning desire to run out and get a new one. I don’t like fast food, so no matter how many commercials for fast food chains or chain restaurants I see, I don’t go. You don’t want any new cars because, firstly, you have 2 new cars, and secondly, you don’t value cars right now, you value a house in the country. You don’t care about the new food product ads because you are already exposed to their “ads” at the grocery store, and you enjoy cooking from scratch and therefore don’t value the newest value menu item. I’m not saying that commercials aren’t very effective at what they do (and are a huge time waster, which is why I love TIVO), but I highly highly doubt that your “lack of want” has anything to do with commercials. You still see the ads on billboards or any time you walk into a store. You have ads on your website, and I have yet to click on a single one, and probably never will. You are at a point where name brand means less to you than cost (and you have less time now with the third kid to be thinking about buying new stuff anyway), and for those who value the name brand highly, limiting commercials won’t make a difference, they will still want the name brand until they either get it or their priorities change.

  9. Sarah says:

    I’m very interested in doing this as well, but always ended up deciding it wasn’t saving that much money, after the discounts are included. (We also have work-related internet needs at home). Not to mention that even if no tv is watched all year, once football season comes around, it is on in the background every sunday.

    Does anyone know if there is a way to solve watching live-games w/out cable?

  10. Jeff Sarris says:

    It’s funny that you should write this today because we actually just cancelled our cable yesterday, although we still watch TV, but it’s free over the air HD with a roof antenna. The downside of cancelling though is that the cost for high speed Internet has a major jump in price when that’s the only service used. There was a nice little loophole though, simply having any tv service would give the lower Internet rate, so by downgrading to the most basic service (OTA channels only, no HD) we’re able to save an extra $20/month. We’ll never actually watch it since we have the antenna, but it was a simple way to save a little extra.

  11. Josh says:

    The only reason i have cable is to watch MLB.

    If MLB.TV would get rid or their arcane blackout rules I would drop cable for good! I feel like I’m getting fleeced but put up with it for now.

  12. Debbie M says:

    I didn’t have a TV in college and didn’t miss it because I was so busy with other stuff. Then at my parents, the commercials were really disgusting.

    When I had roommates I had a TV again, but when I bought my own house, I made a rule that there would be no TV in the living room except for special occasions. Then I made a rule that I would watch only pre-recorded TV. This is the rule I live with today.

    I’m still culturally ignorant, but when I hear enough about the same show from all kinds of different people, I look into it via Netflix. I loved watching “Firefly” in order with all of the episodes. I hate some of their favorites, but I quite enjoy some of the other favorites. So I still watch TV, with the product placements, but only about two or three episodes a week.

    There is no plunking myself in front of the TV and not looking up again until after bedtime. (I now have that problem with the internet instead, but at least the internet I get sucked into is better than the TV I used to get sucked into.)

    The best part is that I never, ever have to watch commercials except during my friends’ Superbowl party and at my relatives’ and the occasional restaurant. This also makes me culturally ignorant, but I am happy to let my friends describe their favorite commercials to me when they bring them up.

  13. JenniferB says:

    So my husband and I canceled our TV about a year ago, and now only have internet. I have my google homepage that has all the news I need. I have experienced the backlash that comes from folks that can not fathom not being glued to a TV. I am not judgemental, because I was once addicted to a show or two myself. I will use the “I have not seen that show…” instead of the proud “Yeah, we don’t have TV.” Trust me you will not want to go back to your old ways, as now I can not imagine being a couch potato again!

  14. Derek says:

    Agreed with Kat. Cutting cable is a good thing but you will still see lots of advertising outside of television and you can’t possibly say you don’t want anything just because you don’t have cable. I haven’t had it for three years but I still want stuff :)

  15. Marni says:


    I stopped watching TV at home when I was about 16, which coincided with when I took on a job in addition to going to school.

    This was one of the best decisions I made in my young life.

    11 years later, I’m still without a TV and have been more productive in school and work ever since.

    Now I just need to work on the internet surfing ;)

  16. Lauren says:

    How do you get your sports fix? I know you have written about being a big fan of certain sports, and I know from experience that it is really hard to follow your favorite teams without cable (unless you only watch the NFL or Notre Dame football). I personally watch a lot of NHL which is hardly ever on NBC, and my husband is college football crazy.

  17. Tom says:

    A couple of points – I just dropped TW Cable digital phone for Ooma which cost $239 (including a $39 phone port fee). There is no monthly fee and it is working flawlessly. I should be at break even in about 5 months.

    Also didn’t Netflix sign a MLB deal that costs $130 per season?

  18. Jenna says:

    What cable provider are you with? (if you dont mind me asking) I only want internet and I can’t find it anywhere for cheaper than $40 a month (taking into consideration the bogus installtion fee they charge to flip the switch) Any suggestions?

    Also, I have never left a comment before, but I have read your blog for about 6 months now…I love it and it is very motivational and educational.

  19. Mark says:

    “some sort of tablet computer to aid with notetaking in a wide variety of situations”

    I hear Apple makes an item that is perfect for this…

  20. Keith says:

    Lots of people balk at the “Sorry, I don’t *own* a TV” comment. That includes me.

    I think it’s very important to draw the distinction between not watching broadcast TV (live, apparently) and not watching *anything* on any kind of visual medium appliance.

    I didn’t have a TV in college but I watched it on my computer. Lots of people watch shows on (hulu, netflix, etc.) without using a TV.

    I like video games – on the TV.

    I agree that picking and choosing what you watch and when is, if not cheaper, then certainly capable of giving your more time in your day to do other things.

    That said, don’t tell people you don’t watch TV because they’ll assume you don’t *own* a TV and then the sparks will really fly.

  21. Garry says:

    We dropped cable/sat a couple years ago, but kept Netflix (which we’ve had for 10 years) and use the streaming and DVD rentals almost exclusively. I do not miss cable/sat one single iota. We have ADSL from Verizon, so there’s no need for cable at all. Broadcast TV is pretty much a complete wasteland, we almost never watch it unless there’s something interesting to see, but that’s pretty rare.

  22. We got rid of our TV when the nation switched to HDTV- I was too cheap to go out and buy the converter box.
    I loved TV up until than and was shocked how much I didn’t miss it. We still watch some shows on hulu (remember, I’m too cheap to even subscribe to Netflix!) but its so different than regular TV with all it’s commercials.
    AND I have a friend who is my ‘pop culture’ diva- she keeps me up on all there is to know!

  23. After getting married, I saw the cable expense as something extra I didn’t really need. So I’ve been surviving on what I can view on the Internet alone for the last 6 months.
    Overall I find myself enjoying watching shows more because it’s what I want to see WHEN I WANT TO SEE IT. No messing with recording on tape, no paying for a DVR. And usually it’s just one commercial instead of 5+.
    The detriment in conversation for me is when people ask “did you see that new hilarious commercial with the talking baby?” I’m gutsy enough to answer “I have no television, so no.” But I still watch some of the same shows that I talk with my close friends about.

  24. Todd says:

    Congrats! I underwent a slow transition away from TV as well. I’ll watch occasionally for particular events, like the aformentioned Notre Dame football games, but there are so many other things I’d rather be doing, even just to veg out, that I don’t think I’ll watch regularly ever again.

    @Kat: Sure I may not want a new car or new gadget, but being exposed to TV’s consumeristic language has a real effect on the viewer. And there’s something unique about the passive state that TV puts the viewer into that makes you more susceptible to that language that simply looking at a billboard doesn’t do.

  25. candylover says:

    When we bought our new house, we opted to go cable free and see if we missed it. Alas, we did not. We actually enjoyed the quiet we had now that we weren’t mindlessly channel surfing or using the tv as background noise. We eventually got an HD antenna for local channels so we could watch the shows we missed the most. Last month we decided to try our hand at streaming netflix to watch the shows/movies that people always mention, but so far, our tv viewing hasn’t really increased.

  26. Erin says:

    I know this is probably EXACTLY the reason I shouldn’t have cable, but my daughter has several programs she enjoys to watch, so I keep it for her. But I’ve often thought if it was just me, I could get rid of it.

    I lived in Italy in my early 20’s and since I didn’t speak Italian there was no need to have a TV I couldn’t understand. LOL That was back before everyone had computers too, the internet was a fairly new idea at that time. But I must admit, I never really missed it. I rented movies from the Navy base on the weekends and stayed pretty busy doing other stuff like reading, enjoying the culture and working.

  27. Erin says:

    Wow…I just realized how OLD my post made me sound. “Back before everyone had computers and the internet was a fairly new idea”.

    That seems so long ago, but I’m only 35 years old!! That was in 1995! :)

  28. PK says:

    If someone absolutely must have cable, I think DVR is the way to go. Ever since my family got it with their cable service, the ability to fast-forward through commercials during recorded programs is a godsend. Plus I love that I can record the handful of shows I actually watch (and not be distracted by other time-wasters), and then watch them whenever *I* have free time, not trying to reorganize my life around a broadcast schedule.

    Also, I finished grad school in Europe not too long ago and for 4 years I didn’t watch any tv in my little loft other than Olympics. Instead I turned to the internet, where I was able to watch entire series of TV shows I’d heard about from friends back home, in one sitting if I wanted to. It turned me on to House and Lost, for example. Ever since I came back to the US, I simply *cannot* watch Lost on broadcast night because I find the commercials interrupt the flow of the story tremendously. I instead wait til the next day when it’s up on the internet and enjoy. I don’t know about the real savings of giving up cable, but using the internet in lieu of cable is really not a bad way to do things and I know several people of all ages who do just that.

    Also, I’d gladly go TV-free during Lent if it spares me having to another one of those incredibly annoying McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish commercials, ugh!

  29. Brad says:

    Nice timing, oddly my wife and I are canceling our cable… TOMORROW! I made a deal with her that we would experiment for 30 days without TV (she grew up with TV as a babysitter, I grew up in Canada with TV period) and I couldn’t be more excited.

    I know this will translate into more time spent doing healthy things and more time together. TV is useless and I have never liked spending my time rotting in front of it.

  30. Leah says:

    excellent! I have cable now, but it is free with our apartment (so is internet). Whenever I have lived on my own, I went without cable. I also went without internet too; I checked my email daily at the library (wifi with my laptop) or occasionally at a friends’ house. I loved being able to save tons of money.

    When we move to new housing and don’t get the freebies, it’ll be an interesting discussion. I don’t care, but my boyfriend loves his sports, discovery channel, etc. Our compromise might be to keep the TV in another room so that we consciously have to make the choice to watch TV.

  31. Honey says:

    The entire reason I have a stable job is so that I can spend my downtime watching TV and pursuing other equally mentally stimulating hobbies (reading fantasy and sci fi novels, cooking, etc.). Watching TV is only as mindless as the person – I love analyzing every aspect of everything, so TV is one of the main ways I stay sharp. Though I do tend to fast forward through most commercials, I think they are inherently rhetorically interesting (but then I have a PhD in rhetoric and advertisements is a HUGE subset of the field).

  32. Sergiogsr says:

    I agree with the general idea (watching TV requires a lot of time and also can be a factor when you decide future activities and goals), but I believe you’re playing over the edge with this topic (like on many other topics), and again you’re “switching sides” one more time.

    As I have said, everything is about motivations and choices, each one has one different.

    When you make a general statement like that, you’re closing yourself to a wide variety of options (some good, some not so good) and on that part I have a problem.

    We need to learn to think for ourselves, and make decisions that will affect our life. Of course some will be good, some will get ugly, but if you learn from that is going to be good.

    With the kind of statement you give here, and on other topics like the ones that you only allow your children to watch one tv show, minimum ads and all that, I see a man that wants to be good but doesn’t have full confidence in himself and in his family so he takes away all the temptations(i.e. You don’t think that you’ll be able to control yourself if you see tv ads. Or you don’t think that your children can learn from a bad experience).

    But that’s not the point of life, life is about doing things and making mistakes. No one can learn real lessons by reading or hearing others experience.

    I believe that you need to control/restrict (at least from this point of view) your life (and your children) a lot less, and take a more monitoring place.

    Like you say, being frugal is not about “not doing stuff”, being frugal (and smart) is to align our choices to our goals. Like someone said earlier, you see ads in the street, in stores, and must of the time you don’t care about that. Why closing your mind to another tool of humanity.

    Your point of view surprises me a lot. As a “I want to be a sci-fi writer” person I belive you’re building a lot of limits to your mind. Open your eyes, try a lot of things and try to learn from that. Not close your eyes and escape from every situation.

    (By the way, I do not watch a lot of TV, and I agree that most of the shows -at least that are aired in my country – have little to no usefull content, but sometimes there is a good show that helps you to learn a lot, from the world and from yourself).

  33. T'Pol says:

    Good for you! I have been thinking of dropping TV and decided to take a break for two months to see how I will use the extra time and whether I shall be happy. I am going to take a certificate exam in June so, I will have some peaceful time going over the material again.

    If I am happy not watching TV in two months, I will cancel the cable for good. BTW, I still own a 19 inch, 1991 model TV that I had bought when I was living in NY. Is there anyone who remembers 42nd Street Photo? If I decide to drop watching TV, I will not have to worry about replacing my old and probably soon to be dead TV set. Frugal!

  34. Ellen says:

    We also have the tv out of the main living area; the one we have is almost 20 years old; we have cable but only routinely watch 3 shows.

    One of my brothers banned TV for his son (dad & mom only watched when the son was sleeping – not sure how they handle it now that the son is a teen). I do know that the son cannot tear his eyes away from a TV when visiting people who don’t have a TV phobia.

    On the other hand, one of my sisters has the latest tv, the latest satellite with all the channels & on demand features, & she’s one of the least materialistic, “I don’t enjoy shopping,” self-directed people I know.

    And I’d say that 2 weeks without TV is a little early to decide that’s the reason for the change of mindset – I’d guess Trent’s overall lifestyle choices have more to do with that, not to mention the added distraction of a third child!

  35. Geoff says:

    I actually got rid of our cable about a year and a half ago because of DVR. I found we were watching more TV because we had all these shows stored that we would have usually just missed. Instead we were seeing an promo for a show and just clicking the remote to record when on. This build up of shows got overwhelming so we got rid of cable. Now I get my fix from a few free shows over antenna and Hulu.
    We have been debating Netflix for some time now, but feel that the odd Redbox here and there fills our needs as far as movies go for now.

  36. Stephan says:

    im still hoping that someday ill be able to kick the cable habit, but as long as im a die hard sports fan, i cant see myself giving up my HD cable=)

    Preferred Financial Services

  37. Honey says:

    I wonder how many people use Netflix for movies v. tv shows? I have almost zero interest in movies of any kind, but anything with seasons and episodes is FASCINATING to me…

  38. sm4k says:

    We dropped cable quite a while ago as well. We get by with a computer hooked up to our TV that runs Hulu, Netflix, and the occasional RedBox rental. We picked up a $40 Digital Antenna so we could still get local weather and sports events–even in HD.

    We also stripped out our home phone service, dropping down to a 1.5Mb ‘Dry Loop’ DSL for $25 a month. There is three of us, and we all use cell phones, so we didn’t see the need.

    We’re VERY happy with the set up currently. In a while we’ll be upgrading the computer that is running Hulu/RedBox to something that supports Windows 7, so we can use its Media Center to act as a DVR for the few shows on local channels that we want to watch but can’t access (Biggest Loser being on a week delay KILLS my wife).

    It’s pretty easy to still have it all without paying for it. Now if only HBO would have some kind of online streaming ability…

  39. jgonzales says:

    Honey, Netflix has a lot of TV shows. My husband and I use Netflix mostly for TV shows instead of movies. It gives us a chance to catch up on all the shows we missed over the years or that one never saw before we got together. We’ve had Netflix for years and we’ve always gotten TV shows it. I would get rid of cable long before I would get rid of Netflix.

  40. Dar says:

    Just picked up a Power Phone VoIP setup at Fry’s today and going to reduce my Comcast “Triple Play” bundle (internet/cable/phone) to internet-only here very soon, so this is a timely post for me.

    I’m expecting to save close to $100/month with cheaper VoIP and no more HD channels w/sports package w/DVR, and spending time on more productive activities (getting more exercise now that the warmer weather is here, but also self-educating myself on different programming languages). I know I’ll be missing some good stuff I had set to record on the DVR (Holmes on Homes, Modern Marvels, Nat Geo… I’ll miss you!) but I’ll be trying some online alternatives such as Hulu and iTunes if I *really* need a fix. And there’s always Netflix and the local Blockbuster for Blu-Rays.

    It will definitely be an experiment, but I can’t ignore the savings potential and eliminating the too-convenient time suck.

  41. Jean-Baptiste says:

    Going without TV is fine as long as (1) you have a large family to keep you company, or (2) you live in a climatic zone that permits year-round outdoor activity. In my case I live alone … in Michigan. Have you tried living alone through a long, snowy winter without TV? You would go c-r-a-z-y. So yes, in a perfect world we would all throw away our TVs and cable programming would cease to exist. But in the meantime, some of us need TV to cope with life in the 21st century.

  42. Trent,
    you’ve talked about it in the past, so I’m wondering when are you going to make the jump to Skype and drop the Home Phone service too?

  43. Pankaj says:

    Have been cable free for 3.5 months now. Hooked up a laptop to the LCD and watch 24 and Modern Family via Hulu. Lots of movies via $8.99 Netflix and Public Library…..The only media cost is internet ($29.99 + Netflix.

  44. Honey says:

    @jgonzales, yes, I use Netflix primarily for TV shows. I just wondered how common that was.

  45. rosa rugosa says:

    We’ve been without cable for years now. I don’t watch TV at all really (maybe an important news story or a really old PBS movie once every couple of years). My husband is the only reason we still own a TV, and he seldom watches anymore either. I suspect when our current TV dies, we probably won’t bother to replace it. When people ask me about a TV show, I just say that I don’t watch TV. If that distresses them, then that’s their problem; I’m not running for public office or anything. I think the zombielike behavior of spending life in front of the TV is sad and a little bit scary – not unlike all the people walking around mesmerized by their cellphones (don’t have one of those either).

  46. k says:

    I LOVE not having a TV, been TV free for about a year and a half now…I’ve pretty much ceased watching movies or Hulu as well. It’s just such a time suck, I would way rather be outside or be creative or social.

    (and I work for a TV company! oh the irony :)

  47. Chris says:

    I know my fiancee would be completely on board with you on the decision to cut out TV and that it “devours” “otherwise productive time” because it is the one thing we disagree the most on. The thing is, I love television. I love debating and analyzing the shows I love, campaigning on their behalf and making predictions with my friends for what we think will happen in any given story line.

    I watch a lot of TV. I don’t have cable in my part of the house and watch practically nothing live (unless its a show I watch with friends) but I know what is going on on most scripted television shows. I make time in my schedule to watch these programs because I enjoy it and it frustrates me to no end when anyone (including my fiancee) assumes that watching tv is exclusively a waste of time. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of the television shows I watch, as much if not more so than I generally get out of the same amount of time spent on my other interests. And I think that’s okay because I am engaged in the process, I am not passively being fed the media. And I love it. I have made many friendships because of it. Its the only thing I’ve ever been really passionate about outside of my career and my fiancee, and, lately, personal finance.

  48. gail says:

    we use our netflix mainly for tv shows too.

    i have checked into watching tv on the net, but lots of stuff is either delayed or not even offered, or you have to pay for it (which kind of defeats the purpose).

    my bro and sis in law recently dropped their cable and are very happy. with an antenae they still get about 8-10 channels.

    i love my sports and news and a few cable shows so i don’t see dumping my cable anytime soon. we have had several times throughout our marriage where we have not had cable or even not had a tv, but our lives are different now and its something we budget for and adds to our quality of life. its our “entertainment”.

    good discussion.

  49. alilz says:

    I have cable and I really enjoy it. Although I don’t watch a ton of tv.
    And I pretty much ignore the commercials. Just because someone watches TV doesn’t mean they are slaves to the ads and always buy buy buy.

    I have a DVR and I record a LOT of stuff and then I fast forward through the ads. If I’m watching live tv I usually either – flip through channels ’cause I’m like that or have a magazine or book and flip through it while the ads are on.

    I also record a lot of movies on TCM (not all are available on dvd) and I have Netflix that I watch either by getting dvds or streaming.

    I think the main thing is if you don’t enjoy something and you don’t use it you shouldn’t be paying for it.

    There’s nothing wrong with tv as a form of entertainment I do a lot of active watching on tv. Meaning I watch tv shows and then I discuss them with other people. Not just “oh did you like that episode” but a lot of analysis and almost crit lit style discussions but about TV Shows rather than books. (I read books too).

  50. Cambo says:

    I really enjoy TV but the shows I watch (Dexter, Supernatural, True Blood, Mad Men, United States of Tara, Weeds)are not really shown on Australian TV or if they are they are moved around in odd timeslots and air ages after the US.

    For me I torrent them so I get them a day after being shown in the states and ad free. Older shows (like Six Feet Under) if I get an urge to watch I hire or borrow on DVD.

  51. Cambo says:

    Forgot to add I don’t really watch movies, I like the plots and characters that have time to develop in a series rather than a 2 hour movie.

  52. Just wondering if the author or any readers were aware of the slang use of “dropping cable” or “laying cable”, sorry I just found the post time to be rather funny.

  53. CDG says:

    Ah, I’m glad to see that there are some other TV fans here! Cambo, I totally agree with how you described it. TV can do things that movies just cannot. Nothing against anyone who doesn’t get into it – just different hobbies. I don’t understand *at all* why people would want to spend their time gaming, but I don’t judge! :P

    I consider quality TV and a reliable signal something I’m willing to pay for, though I try to get the best value for what I really want. So I’d be more interested in how people who are serious TV fans find creative but ethical ways to get it more cheaply. I did drop the full cable package for Netflix a while back and I’ve been getting TV seasons for shows that I missed while they were on, but get talked up by my favorite TV critic/bloggers. (Just finished BSG, moving on to The Wire.) It has been painful to wait for HBO shows to hit Netflix, though. I have friends who use some kind of box and a subscription to giganews(?) to get everything as it’s aired, but I don’t really understand that system and it feels a bit dangerous to me.

  54. CDG says:

    Oh, and DVR is definitely the way to go. I didn’t have it until mid 2000’s and it’s one of those technologies I now can’t imagine living without, barring unforeseen apocalypse.

  55. LiveCheap says:

    My wife and I have same situation. 3rd kid and the time for TV plunges. Netflix has been excellent though and the combo of about one or two movies a week and a few streaming shows and we are happy as a clam.

    We had the same issue on cable, I went to drop it and my Internet rate was going to go up by $15 and offset the savings. We still brought it down though and I can now drop both my cable box fee and my Internet modem fee (you can buy one pretty cheap) and save another $10 a month.

    I really don’t miss TV at all, but only because I can get some great series like Dexter and some of the HBO dramas via Netflix.

  56. frugalrandy says:

    I got rid of my cable service a couple of months ago, after I realized I hadn’t turned on a TV set in several weeks. That’s $700/yr saved every year from now on, and I don’t miss it. Why didn’t I do it sooner?

  57. RobD says:

    I dropped cable some time in 1988, for cost reasons. I very quickly got used to not having TV around, and even lived without having a movie collection for years. If anything came out that I really wanted to see, I’d go to the theater. The family finally acquired DVD capability four or five years ago, but we’re doing so many things that I can’t find the time to watch movies, let alone TV.

    I agree with what others have said about people bristling when you mention you don’t have TV. I observe that you get much the same response if you ever comment on doing any of the other things that people say they’d like to do; eat more vegetarian meals, lose weight, etc. Seems to be a reaction when they aren’t happy with their own choices but haven’t quite acknowledged it yet.

  58. alilz says:

    I have to get my back up when people talk about how they are no tv, not necessarily because they dont’ have tv or don’t watch it, but in the way that they say it.

    I’m not saying that Trent has done this at all, but I’ve noticed that among non TV Watchers there’s a snobby factor about it. Anti TV/Non tv watchers (not all but a lot) tend to say stuff like “there’s nothing but trash on tv” or portray tv as being nothing but crap with no redeeming value. And there could possibly never be anything good about tv shows.

    TV shows are an artistic medium just like movies, plays, books, etc. And yeah there are crappy tv shows out there -but there’s crappy art work everywher. Horrible books, terrible plays, agony inducing poetry, ghastly movies.

    But you rarely see someone talking about not reading as a kind of virtue because there are trashy crappy books out there.

    So to sum up I don’t havea problem with people not watching tv I have a problem with people being sanctimonious about it.

  59. Doug says:

    When I first moved to Colorado fifteen years ago, I went without TV for six months. I returned home to visit and realized I didn’t really miss it. Sure, there were a few shows (Space: Above and Beyond, X-Files, Brisco County Jr) that I loved, but I could live without them. The next several years I watched television here and there.

    Seven years ago, I moved to Indianapolis, and realized that I had a huge number of other things to do besides watch television. When I met my wife, she didn’t even have local television, because a windstorm damaged the antenna and she never got it fixed. We’ve been without cable or network TV ever since.

    Now, I spend a lot of time online, so I get my full allotment of culture and news. There’s simply no need for me to spend two hours a night watching television when I could be painting miniatures, reading, playing with my son, helping my wife, or working on our property.

    I know I’m an oddity amongst my peers, but given the breadth and depth of my knowledge in other areas (that exists because I don’t spend two hours a night getting my brainwaves rearranged), I’m more than happy to be the oddity.

    Yes, television changes your brainwaves, creating a biological situation where the human body actually consumes fewer calories than when it is sleeping. There’s something just plain wrong about that.

  60. Brett says:

    This is a very timely post for me as well. My wife and I are in the process of purchasing our first home, and we just decided to try a few months without cable once we move in. We already have the Netflix subscription, and we’ll be using the PlayOn software to stream Hulu, etc. to our XBox 360 in order to keep up with our favorite shows (we don’t have too many “favorite shows” to keep up with). The only “worry” I have is being able to watch sports on the TV when having people over…still working on figuring that one out.

    We’ll also be nixing the phone service and using our cell phones instead. We figured we’d try it out…can’t hurt, right?

  61. Porf says:

    I could never cut cable….I’m to much of a hardcore sports junkie and there’s nothing that’s web based that can compare to what cable offers in terms of sports. If it weren’t for that, I could probably do without it and just download all of my shows, Hulu or Netflix.

  62. Greg says:

    My wife and I have never had cable. 29+ years of marriage. We still have network TV and there is enough there to burn up a lot of time. Every once in a while I will hear some talk or an advertisement about something on the Discovery, History or the Food channel and it sounds interesting, but life goes on and we survive!

  63. KC says:

    Every year I stay with a friend of mine for a few days who doesn’t have cable. She has a small tv hooked up to a converter box and picks up a few local channels. The funny thing is I watch her tv in the morning or afternoon (whenever I’m not out) and seem to stay fairly entertained by it. The only thing I really miss is CNBC and all the channels that normally provide me with my baseball fix (ESPN, MLB, WGN, TBS, and the 4 Fox Sports channels that are in our local area). Frankly I could do without CNBC, but not the baseball. However if sports isn’t your thing I can see where you could easily do without cable.

  64. Jill S says:

    Will you turn on the TV if the weather gets bad or just listen on the radio? I do not watch much TV but I live in Iowa and when it is possible tornado weather, I turn on the TV to get the latest updates.
    I suppose the internet could work but my husband (who works in IT) makes sure all of our computers are unplugged if it is lightning outside.

  65. We recently got rid of cable and it’s been great! I have more time for other things, don’t have to deal with commercials melting my brain and am caught up with profitable activities instead of shows. If we ever want to watch something from TV we use netflix.

    It’s awesome.

  66. K says:

    I agree that there seems to be a snob factor among some people who don’t watch TV as a matter of principle. Much better in my opinion to say something like “I’m so busy with ___ that I don’t have time to watch much.”

    Why not look into DSL for your internet ($15/mo in my area) and go with Skype and cell phones instead of a landline? And then keep a digital converter box for your TV? We still get 10 channels even without cable.

  67. ABCD says:

    My other question to you is about financially preparing oneself for a third child. A third child can be a big challenge for personal time, finances!

    What is YOUR take?

  68. shahrul azwad says:

    I never need cable. In malaysia, there is one monopoly by a company known as ASTRO. They owns the exclusives sports channel. Maybe i can do without for not being a soccer fan.

    I need tv but i watch less of it.

  69. Michelle says:

    I haven’t watched TV since I was 15 or so. I’m 22 now, and most of my peer group has no desire to watch TV at all.

    I LOVED your comment about asking questions about a show that you know nothing about. I know people that get very defensive and feel alientated when conversation turns to TV and they have nothing to say about it. They manage to bully the conversation somewhere else usually but this sounds like a great strategy for dealing with this situation.

  70. Michelle says:

    I haven’t watched TV since I was 15 or so. I’m 22 now, and most of my peer group has no desire to watch TV at all.

    I LOVED your comment about asking questions about a show that you know nothing about. I know people that get very defensive and feel alienated when conversation turns to TV and they have nothing to say about it. They manage to bully the conversation somewhere else usually but this sounds like a great strategy for dealing with this situation.

  71. Jonathan says:

    No cable in our house. I record a few programs using my Windows XP MCE PC and an added TV tuner. MCE Buddy removes the commercials while recoding the shows so I can copy them to my smartphone for watching on my commute, during lunch break, or whenever I want. I watch very little now, because many of the programs ended and I haven’t added anything new. Bottom line: I still watch TV programs, but I watch when and where I want with no commercials — all for free! :)

  72. vern says:

    We haven’t had cable for 15 years. All we need is the internet and netflix.

    Anyway, we get 12 channels free with digital tv now. (But we still don’t watch them much!)

  73. Jules says:

    But how else am I to get my Law & Order fix? :-D

    In all seriousness, I only ever watch TV during vacations and weekends (L&O is on Friday nights). I should actually be watching MORE TV, as I’m trying to learn the language here. The commercial breaks are timed funny here, though (you can tell when the show is supposed to break but doesn’t), which actually works out pretty well because I get a lot of other things done in the meantime.

  74. Sandy L says:

    Giving up cable is really not as hard as it used to be with if you have the internet. It’s like when I gave up coffee, but started eating sweets instead. I just subsituted one vice for another.

    I don’t know why people think spending time on the internet is more virtuous than TV. In my book, they are both entertainment. (At least those who have not made a career of it).

    Similar to the earlier poster, if you compare yourself to the early 90’s, you’re still spending more money overall on fluff. Now many people have home phones, cell phones, internet and cable. Giving up cable alone means you’re still spending more money overall than a generation ago.

  75. Diana says:

    I also canceled my premium channels when I was laid off last year. We belong to Netflix and our TV has the capacity to instantly download available movies and TV from Netflix. I have more control over what I watch, access to lots of BBC mini-series and nature shows and old movies. I do watch much less TV and like you don’t miss the “cultural” or lack of side.

  76. I wish I can do the same you did because I hate when I reach at home after 9 hours job, whole my family engage in TV with full volume and concentration on TV shows and the result is, at the end of the day, no family conversation which is actually required when all family members are working.

    I just wish, One day I will reach at home and Whole family talk to each other and have good fun time..

    I just hate that I m unable to convince my family to leave it at least for a day!!! :(

  77. Chere says:

    My TV left with the former husband, he dearly loved it and it cluttered our home and relationship in an unproductive way. I’m kind of pretty good with no TV/cable, I watch law and order reruns and jon stewart when I need a little fix on the apple and I also listen to a lot of music.

    I wondered how my kids would do when they come visit, it has actually been pretty remarkable because we play outside, read, make tents under the dining room table, or pile in the bed and play with the babies. We talk. I mean what could be better than reading Dora the Explorer with Ruby June and watch her pour choclate milk on her feet and my good cotton sheets!

    I don’t care very much for popular culture, it’s unreliable and generally sucks.

  78. Callie says:

    Yea!!! We did this when my son was 3 and would get fussy after one half hour of Thomas the Tank Engine. If you can’t watch Thomas and not get fussy it must be the watching that’s the problem. We never looked back! Love Netflix though.

  79. Steve R says:

    Congratulations!! You can now enjoy the old school reality show….life.

  80. Kevin says:


    “Television changes your brainwaves … the human body actually consumes fewer calories than when it is sleeping.”

    LOL! Wow, that’s amazing, Doug. Is that an example of the kind of brilliant material you learn while you’re spending your 2 hours per night surfing the web, getting your “full allotment of culture and news?” Hilarious!

    If that’s an example of the kind of junk science you elitist geniuses are “learning” while the rest of us “waste time” watching the Discovery Channel, then I don’t think I’m missing too much!

  81. Gretchen says:

    I am so over this anti-TV movement, especially for people who still watch shows via hulu/other web sources Or still watch movies.

    It’s not automatically junk because it’s on TV. Also, there’s the news factor. News I get via the radio, but I do like the morning news on while I get ready if only to know if I need an umbrella that day.

  82. Jane says:

    “So to sum up I don’t have a problem with people not watching tv I have a problem with people being sanctimonious about it.”

    Exactly. If you notice that people respond negatively to your pronouncement that you don’t watch TV, it is probably because you sound arrogant and are communicating your distaste for those who have made different choices than you.

    Hey, we all do it. I don’t often mention it to friends and those younger than me (and I’m only 32!), but I feel a sense of private pride bordering on superiority that I only have a crappy pay as you go cell phone. I’ve never sent a text, used an i-pod, and couldn’t tell the difference between any of the other gadgets I see people using every day. I’m a Luddite in that area.

    But to suggest giving up my HD DVR or my cable – how dare you!

  83. Kevin says:

    Why cancel TV? There are really only 2 reasons I can think of: Cost and time.

    The cost argument falls completely flat. The math simply doesn’t support it. TV is among the absolute cheapest possible forms of entertainment you can find, even including used paperback books. About the only thing I can think of that even comes close might be a video game with an extremely high “replay-ability” factor.

    Say you watch 2 hours of TV per weeknight, 3 hours on the weekends. That’s 16 hours per week. With 4.33 weeks per month, that’s 69 hours of TV per month. Trent said his cable is only costing him $20 per month, because it’s bundled with other services. Thus, an average TV watcher with Trent’s cable plan would be paying just $0.29 per hour for TV. If there are 2 of you, then the per person, per hour cost is just $0.15.

    That sounds like a huge bargain to me!

    What other form of entertainment can you and your partner get for just $0.29/hour? Some quick examples:

    A used book. $0.50 for 2 hours of entertainment. $0.25/hour per person. 67% more expensive than TV.

    Nosebleed tickets to a pro sporting event (regular season, not even playoffs): $30/each for 3 hours, or $10/hour per person. 6,600% more expensive than TV.

    Floor tickets to a rock concert. $300 for 4 hours. $75/hour per person. 50,000% more expensive than TV.

    I could go on with many more examples. Amusement parks, the ballet, art museums, the movie theater … just about EVERY possible form of entertainment I can think of is more expensive than TV. So canceling TV to save money is a stupid reason.

    That leaves “time.” If you find your time is better spent doing other things, then that’s a valid point. DVR’s have drastically eroded the validity of this argument, but it still retains some validity, particularly among those who place a low value on watching TV. Heck, if it weren’t for DVR’s, I probably wouldn’t watch much TV myself. But DVR’s have granted the ability to watch a 1-hour show in 35 minutes. You just skip all the commercials, the “Previously, on _whatever_” and “Next time, on _whatever_”, the opening credits, and the closing credits, and it’s amazing how fast you can get through shows. Heck, with some shows, you can even speed through parts of the actual show itself without missing much (like Idol/Dancing results shows, most of the weigh-ins and workouts on Biggest Loser, the voting on Survivor, etc.).

    I think what makes people defensive is the attitude that some people think they’re too good for TV. They’ll say everything on TV is crap, which is a passive agressive judgement on anyone listening who happens to have shows they actually enjoy. They instinctively get defensive, and their main reaction is, “well, they’re probably only saying that because they’ve never seen any of the shows *I* watch, which clearly have a lot of redeeming value.” Then they start to list off the shows they like which are actually good, like Dexter, Lost, Firefly, or whatever. The TV-less person has never seen them (and never will), so there’s no where for the discussion to go. Both parties walk away feeling judged by the other.

    It’s definitely a touchy subject.

  84. J says:

    I agree with Gretchen. I work with a lot of the sanctimonious types who go on about how they don’t have a TV. Then you find out that they hook the computer up to a really large monitor and watch television shows on hulu, netflix, bittorent, etc. If you get into it, it seems that they value the time-shifting aspect most, which I’ve been doing since 2001 when I got TiVo, and before that with a VCR on occasion.

    When we upgrade to HDTV we are likely to drop cable and use over the air broadcasts, but keep Netflix.

  85. Jennifer says:

    Yay! We made the switch 5 years ago, and for a while, it was rough for me (until I discovered Netflix and Hulu). Now I don’t think I would ever go back….commercals are so annoying. The only thing we really miss around here is watching soccer, but we can go over to friends houses for big games. We only had basic cable, so it was only about a $20 a month savings for us, but where we are right now (husband in a Dr. program, and we have a small child), it is still a good saving. So basically, the switch is a good one, because even if you are still watching programs, you can more easily control what your children watch, and what you watch. It’s not mindless plopping down on the couch and zoning out in front of the TV for hours, or leaving the TV on all day for “company”.

  86. Larabelle says:

    I have been without television and computer access at home for the past two years. I missed it for about a month and then I got busy reading (books which were already on my bookshelfs or at the library), sewing projects which had sit in the craft pile for quite some time, listening to classical music to destress, gardening. It has been wonderful and I do not ever and I mean ever plan on going back to having a television or computer at home….and no I do not have an internet connection on my cell phone.

  87. Stacy Reeves says:

    My fiance has been pushing for us to eliminate TV in our house. Of course, it’s easy for him to say that because he’s never home, and when he is home, he doesn’t want to watch TV. I, on the other hand, watch TV all day – I keep the news channels on while I work, I watch reality shows while I clean the house, and I love to curl up with a good TV movie when I’m home alone at night. I’m not convinced it’s right for us yet, but this article has certainly given me food for thought, especially with all the great stuff on Hulu.

    By the way, I have a tablet PC laptop that has been gathering dust for a few months. I’d be happy to make you a good deal on it :)

  88. rxtx says:

    I’ve been tv free for about 4 years now, since I left uni. I don’t even watch the free channels we get in the UK, I just get specific shows from the net. Lots more free time now, I’ve never looked back

  89. 8sml says:

    “just about EVERY possible form of entertainment I can think of is more expensive than TV”
    Just about every form of entertainment I would consider is cheaper than TV.
    I read a ton, but it’s almost all library books, books given as gifts, and books other people were throwing away.
    I have put in tens of thousands of kilometres going on rides on a bike that cost me $400 eight years ago.
    I do crafts (knitting, etc.) with used/free materials.
    I love to cook, but I don’t use expensive ingredients.
    I garden with seeds saved from previous years in a community garden that costs $30/year–soil, water, etc. all included.
    Shall I go on?
    Some people’s hobbies are definitely more expensive than TV. Some people’s hobbies are far cheaper.

  90. Pink Heli says:

    You know…I stopped watching TV when I started my Phd. Not intentionally; it just happened. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I have no idea what shows are out, who the stars are, or what the ‘good channels’ are. We actually found out (8 months after moving in to our home) that we didn’t even get any reception of local channels on our TV (we did want to watch the Olympics). I never thought I’d be a person to ‘give up TV’, but when it came down to time, I just didn’t have time to deal with it.

  91. Rozann says:

    One evening almost twenty years ago I was watching something and an ad for an upcoming show played. The ad seemed to be almost pornographic to me and I said to myself “If this is what is coming up during prime time I’m not watching anymore.” My husband was never interested in watching sports, so he was supportive, and when we moved to an area where cable was necessary for reception we didn’t bother. So we’ve raised our five children without television. Occasionally we watch something on PBS, but that’s all. Our lives have been filled with books and activities. When I hear someone say “I don’t have time for _____.” I wonder how much time they waste on TV watching. Live is for living and doing!

  92. Trudy says:

    Can someone please explain to me the difference between watching a show on cable tv or watching hulu, netflix, etc? Besides no commercials (which you can use a DVR to zip thru) your butt is still parked on a chair getting sucked in by whatever you are watching whether it comes from a network station or from another option. I just don’t get the difference…

    And for those who say no tv gives you more time to read, etc. It’s just a different form of entertainment drawing you in. I get more sucked in by a good book than a television show – tv shows end in approximately an hour and I can move on whereas a book can take much longer to read. Where’s the time savings there?

  93. Chris says:

    I have contemplated cutting cable. I dont follow any shows except True Blood(which I DL). BUT I’m a big sports fan there’s no good alternatives to watching live sports. You can find streams of live games on Justin TV or a few other live broadcast sites but they’re often lagy and pixelated. You also have to plan out and find a stream of that game you want to watch. Maybe when I real alternative to watching sports on cable comes out I will cut the cord.

  94. Starla says:

    I think its funny you are claiming to be culturally ignorant after just a few weeks(!) of no TV. My whole life has pretty much been TV free.

  95. Maria S says:

    I refuse to PAY for ads! A one hour program is only 42 minutes (Kevin didn’t use that in his math) and I get PLENTY of free entertainment from my HD TV from local channels (sports, news, PBS) and my $30 internet connection keeps me FAR from culturally ignorant. Actually, I am exceptionally well read and more up to date on science, technology, and politics that all of my friends and family. However, I can’t tell you who is still on Idol or what happened on Lost because I DON’T CARE – that is culture created by TV executives to sell ad space. I love Netflix for the sheer entertainment and documentaries, history channel, and pure silly movies so NO it’s not that I’m too good for TV – it’s just that every time I’m at someone’s house with 400 channels and nothing good to watch, I’m glad I only pay $15 for Netflix.

  96. Jen Stevens says:

    I stopped watching television regularly years ago, back in college, and honestly haven’t missed it. My colleagues do talk about Project Runway a lot, but it really hasn’t been a barrier, especially since I find it interesting to hear about (but not interesting enough to sit and watch). I have Netflix, so I can watch series like Battlestar Galactica if I want to -yes, it’s still television, but I get to choose when and what to watch. And yes, one could argue that reading books isn’t very different, but as a writer and literature librarian, I figure that’s part of my job – I certainly care about books more than television…
    The only thing is, I’m on the internet a lot, which feels like an equivalent to me, at least in terms of time.

  97. DiscoApu says:

    Kevin said it perfectly. People will substitute one form of entertainment for another, probably at a greater expense.

  98. Jen Stevens says:

    (p.s. – I think that it all comes down to personal choices – great post, Trent! Just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago after seeing a link to it on Open Wallet; wish that I’d discovered it sooner!)

  99. Sergiogs says:

    I agree with the general idea (watching TV requires a lot of time and also can be a factor when you decide future activities and goals), but I believe you’re playing over the edge with this topic (like on many other topics), and again you’re “switching sides” one more time.

    As I have said, everything is about motivations and choices, each one has one different.

    When you make a general statement like that, you’re closing yourself to a wide variety of options (some good, some not so good) and on that part I have a problem.

    We need to learn to think for ourselves, and make decisions that will affect our life. Of course some will be good, some will get ugly, but if you learn from that is going to be good.

    With the kind of statement you give here, and on other topics like the ones that you only allow your children to watch one tv show, minimum ads and all that, I see a man that wants to be good but doesn’t have full confidence in himself and in his family so he takes away all the temptations(i.e. You don’t think that you’ll be able to control yourself if you see tv ads. Or you don’t think that your children can learn from a bad experience).

    But that’s not the point of life, life is about doing things and making mistakes. No one can learn real lessons by reading or hearing others experience.

    I believe that you need to control/restrict (at least from this point of view) your life (and your children) a lot less, and take a more monitoring place.

    Like you say, being frugal is not about “not doing stuff”, being frugal (and smart) is to align our choices to our goals. Like someone said earlier, you see ads in the street, in stores, and must of the time you don’t care about that. Why closing your mind to another tool of humanity.

    Your point of view surprises me a lot. As a “I want to be a sci-fi writer” person I belive you’re building a lot of limits to your mind. Open your eyes, try a lot of things and try to learn from that. Not close your eyes and escape from every situation.

    (By the way, I do not watch a lot of TV, and I agree that most of the shows -at least that are aired in my country – have little to no usefull content, but sometimes there is a good show that helps you to learn a lot, from the world and from yourself).

    Funny that my latest comments are awaiting for moderation as a full time activity…

  100. Jane says:

    When you watch TV online or on hulu, don’t you have to sit through some commercials? It’s usually the same annoying car commercial or whatever, and there’s no way to fast forward it. How is that any different in terms of exposure to advertising than traditional cable?

    Yep, I’ll stick with my DVR. We pay a monthly fee for it, but I have complete control and don’t have to deal with a small screen and the buffering issues.

  101. george says:

    I too have been TV free for 5 years. I have a tv, I just don’t have cable. Anything I want to watch I watch on the internet or go to the movie theater. The thing here is I don’t pay for the shows I don’t want to watch, its the same reason I went to a pay as you go cell phone, the same reason I want to get out of financial difficulty. I was tired of paying for things I wasn’t using, sorta like welfare, paying for it but not using it.

  102. Gretchen says:

    Actually, with Hulu, you get more commericals than with DVR.

    Books can be junk, too. They fall over the spectrum just like TV shows.

    I did want to note that I actually prefer baseball on the radio- when it’s being televised on Fox, but that’s basically because of the terrible announcers.

  103. Karen says:

    I haven’t had tv for about 10 years and other than co-workers forgetting when they ask me about my thoughts on the latest show it hasn’t meant a thing to me. They proceed to give me the blow by blow plays which we all end up laughing about.

    There was no conscious decision. I LOVED tv and yes I analyzed and related it to real life. When I moved, I just didn’t get around to having cable hooked up. And while, as someone said, it may be cheap entertainment, it was still money I didn’t NEED to spend, so why would I?

    I have my computer and now Netflix, which I just decided to try about a month ago when I was offered reward points through one of those sites we hear about in the frugal lifestyle. I’m a kid in a candy store again, but like so many things, i’m sure this will pass, once the novelty of finding just what I want when I want it gets old. LOL

  104. dh says:

    This is a great topic. I grew up with tv as a babysitter after school, didn’t watch it that much in high school because I was more into socializing; in college watched it rarely, then went totally without for 15 years. Now, I pay $20 a month for cable so I can get broadcast stations in my area and this is what I think: for the most part tv is a drug, it numbs me out and sometimes for me that’s okay. But, the jumpiness of tv — the commercials, the snippets of shows then the commercials, it’s a slow brainwash of a culture that, frankly, is insane imho — totally divorced from nature, which is not to say that there isn’t some good stuff, intellectually stimulating stuff on tv, but the only one I can think of at the moment is Charlie Rose and I love Friday Night Lights and am so glad it’s on network tv again. I don’t watch much television and would like to not pay that $20 a month, but for now I am and still thinking about cancelling.

  105. kitty says:

    @Trent ” Not only does television offer up a lot of advertisements glorifying unnecessary material stuff and rampant consumerism, but many programs glorify it through product placement within the programs. ”
    1. Not all channels have commercials. There are virtually no commercials on PBS for example or product placement. Or TCM. I watch both channels.
    Last week for example, I watched Carmen on “Great Performances at the Met” on PBS. Not much “consumerism” there.

    2. If you record shows and scroll through commercials, you don’t watch them either.

    3. As some posters mentioned, you cannot escape from seeing advertising. If you want to avoid overspending you need to learn how to resist it.

    4. There are some decent shows on TV. I like “So you think you can dance” which shows people who have both talent and training as well as very talented choreographers. Now, I’d imagine some people who don’t like dancing wouldn’t like it, whereas other people would like other shows. Bottom line though is like Kevin said – it’s a form of entertainment. It’s not necessarily more “low brow” or less “intellectual” than any other form of entertainment. And even if it were -who cares if it gives people joy, provides relaxation and sometimes ecape from hurt or problems?

    @Kevin (#54) Totally agree. Whatever form of relaxation or entertainment one chooses costs money. Some forms of entertainment are cheaper than others.

    “Floor tickets to a rock concert. $300 for 4 hours. $75/hour per person. 50,000% more expensive than TV.”

    And people say opera is for rich people?????? Metropolitan Opera tickets are in the range $15 – $300 except for gala events. They also have “rush ticket” program where they reserve 200 orchestra seats to be sold before the performance for $20 (though it’s impractical for anybody who works and/or doesn’t live in NYC as one needs to come hours in advance to have a prayer of getting a ticket).

    Back on subject.

    For example, in my example above – watching Carmen from the Metropolitan Opera on PBS, it costs about $20 to buy a ticket to the HD broadcast in selected movie theaters, but I’d need to drive there. Plus, all HD broadcasts in my area were sold out months in advance. But a good ticket to the Met would be a lot more expensive, especially as I live in suburbs and it takes money to drive to and park in Manhattan or take a train. Of course live performance is better given that operas are unamplified so one hears live voices, but TV is cheaper.

    ” They’ll say everything on TV is crap, which is a passive agressive judgement on anyone listening who happens to have shows they actually enjoy.”

    What is crap for one person is something someone else enjoys. I think most of today’s pop singers are voiceless, but some people don’t like the sound of operatic voices or find opera boring.

    There are bad and good shows on tv (and what is good or bad depends on who you ask), there are different forms of other entertainment. Most forms of entertainment cost money and it’s up to an individual to figure out what is good or bad.

  106. Ryan says:

    I have to throw out another vote for sports. I can’t survive without baseball and if I had to go somewhere to watch it I’d be spending more money anyway.

  107. Kacie says:

    I, too, have recently given up cable, and absolutely agree with Trent – I am LOVING the quiet in my home. . .I didn’t realize how much television adds noise to our lives. I am reading more, outside more, and am actually eating less because I eat now at the kitchen table instead of in front of the TV. Plus, netflix takes care of any movie or tv cravings we might have.

    All in all, dropping cable was a wonderful decision and I have not regretted it in the least!

  108. Julia says:

    I started living a TV-less life 10 years ago. During my childhood my parents strongly supervised the amount of TV we watched, then in my teens I had very mixed feelings about watching a sitcom or soap opera: enjoying the characters’ interactions, but also the slavery of having to be available every day or week at that time. Then, when I was 21 I moved out, had to buy everything in my new home, that wasn’t a priority and just happened. No TV, and that’s it.

    Some thoughts about life without a TV:
    – Less noise in your home. That stupid thing would never shut up.

    – Better speech. You don’t find yourself repeating catchphrases or commercial slogans.

    – More flexibility in your daily schedule. You have less fixed appointments (the shows you like, that is).

    – Less exposition to advertising will mean less anxiety when you go shopping. You’ll reach a time when you’re really clueless about certain new products and you start buying what truly appeals to you.

    You might not really appreciate the changes in you and your wife, but it will mean a world of difference to your kids.

    By the way, I grew up to be completely indifferent to TV while my sister, just 2 years younger, is a hard core TV junkie. You never know what your kids will grow up to… but the freedom is worth trying!

  109. Brian Driggs says:

    Another Netflix convert here.
    Haven’t had cable or TV (antenna) in almost 3yrs.

    Don’t miss it at all.

  110. Money Smarts says:

    Recently we cut down on TV significantly, and were able to set up a system where we were able to get all the TV shows we wanted via online streaming via netflix, hulu, or a variety of other sites. You really aren’t missing out on too much when you cut the cord.

  111. Candirn says:

    Ok having Netflix means you didn’t really give up TV. You chose to change the way you watch it, but you still watch it. I completely agree, it is the attitude presented with “I don’t watch tv” that makes a lot of tv watchers irritated. And of course then you find out they stream it on Hulu and/or use Netflix.

  112. Crystal says:

    We use Netflix during off seasons and DVR the shows we like throughout the year. We see the tv and movies as inexpensive weekly entertainment and spend the weekends with friends and family. e’re just too spread out to hang out during the week.

  113. Steve says:

    I watch very little TV and I’ve been culturally ignorant for years now. It’s funny–people I work with will have conversations and make references to movies/tv shows/people I’ve never heard of, almost like they’re speaking another language! Some think I’m wierd and they ask me what I do with all my ‘free time’: finished my master’s degree, earned four belts in tae kwon do, learned to play guitar…the list goes on.

  114. DeeBee says:

    I have not had cable TV since moving out of my parents house. So, it’s been 19 years without cable for me. Personally, it is the best decision for me and I am fine.

    I have friends who love their TV and try to get me to get cable so that I can talk about shows with them. It’s hard to be a person who choose to live without something that “everyone else” has, but I have really never lived my life in comparison to others standards anyway. What I did over the years is to get DVD’s from the library, indie video store, and occasionally purchased used. I used discounts and rewards for the rentals, and still saved a lot of money in the long run.

    I like to see films in the theater, so since I live in a large city I try to go to local film nights that are very inexpensive, and I got a membership card to an indie theater which saves me money and still does not match the cost of a monthly cable bill.

    It can be done.


  115. Honey says:

    I think the “quiet” argument is interesting. I hate the quiet. I turn on the TV when I get home even if I am doing other things, because my boyfriend works way more than I do and I do not want to be alone for the next 3+ hours until he gets home.

    Iron Chef America keeps me company while I cook dinner from scratch, for example. There are lots of shows that I use as background for specific activities when I know I’m going to be doing other things.

  116. Michael says:

    I dont think I would want to totally give up TV altogether but to each their own. M I mean I am an admitted sports junkie and not having TV would drive me crazy. And giving up cable well only NFL and NCAA tournament carries the majority of their games on network TV and the NCAA tournament will have some of their games on cable beginning next year. My cable bill ($97 including phone and internet+ DVR) isnt outrageous as if I had a seperate bill for each. Now I wish I had the option to pick and choose the stations I really want ala cafeteria style…hey I dont need the 200 channels but if i could get the 20-30 I would really watch that would be optimal.

  117. Lily says:

    I made the decision to drop cable and just go with a few local channels and Netflix back in Jan. I decided I wanted to save the money cable tv was costing me after the latest increase in my cable bill. However, when I called to downgrade my service I was told my bill would only decrease about $2 thus eliminating almost all savings.I was told that I could bundle services with phone, internet and cable while increasing my cable bill by only two dollar.The bundle including three premium cable channels, turbo internet,DVR and digital phone. Prior to this I had had internet and basic cable. I ended up taking this bundle and dropping my phone service with ATT. I ended up saving the $50 a month I thought I would save by dropping cable by taking the cable bundle with digital phone and dropping ATT instead.I would like to get rid of cable TV for other reasons but this bundle and the having to pay just one bill a month for everything was too good to pass up.

  118. Gena says:

    My husband and I slowly transitioned to being completely teleivion free too! We limited the number of programs we watched when we moved in together in May 2007, had only been watching about 3 hours per week when the writers went on strike in February 2008, so when we moved in July 2008 we played a game to see how long we could last without signing up for cable [in our area, you can’t get broadcast channels without cable]. When we moved in July 2009 without ever getting cable, we sold the television! The three programs we do watch are on Hulu.

  119. Lisa says:

    That’s great Trent! I gave up TV several years ago, not that I watched it much to begin with. My partner and I now download the shows we want to watch and there are no commercials which means we’re spending less time watching a screen. It’s probably the best decision we have ever made. We have more time to do fun things and we save about $30 a month which is the cost of a basic cable service. We also rent more movies from the library. It’s amazing how much time you have on your hands once you get rid of it.

  120. Scotty says:

    My wife and I dropped out Satellite at the beginning of the year in favor of Apple TV. Based on the number of shows we watch, it’s simply far more economical to buy the seasons ala-cart from iTunes. At roughly $50/season for new shows, even if we watch 10 new shows per year, that’s only $500/month, a little less than basic cable. Plus, we OWN the shows and can watch them on any device on any television with just a few clicks. I’d rather sell my soul to Apple rather than a cableco. With the exception of HBO, virtually everything is on iTunes (whereas it wasn’t when AppleTV first launched).

    I would love to do Hulu/Netflix/Boxee, etc, but this is Canada, they’re Geo-Blocked and we can’t get those services up here. Apple is one of the only legitimate online services up here. Plus, it’s very wife-factor friendly. She can easily do anything she needs.

  121. Kellye says:

    I haven’t had cable television in over a year for various reasons, least of which being cost. We do use the Internet to watch Youtube videos occasionally, but we rarely use it to watch television shows.

    I’ve actually loved not having cable. One of the best things I’ve noticed about not watching TV is the fact that I enjoy television a lot more when I AM exposed to it now (at the homes of other people) and television-based marketing campaigns have absolutely no effect on me. They don’t make me want to buy things, I just feel like my intelligence gets insulted three times every half hour when I’m around a television set.

    “I don’t care very much for popular culture, it’s unreliable and generally sucks.”

    ^ Our MAIN reason for giving up TV.

    A few TV facts (from TrashYourTV.com, where the facts are backed up by links to scientific studies):

    1. The average American watches 4.5 hours of telvision every day.

    2. The average household has a TV playing for over 8 hours a day.

    3. A person who watches 3 hours of TV a day is three times as likely to be obese as someone who only watches one hour of TV a day.

    4. Children witness 16,000 TV murders by age 18.

    5. All American television is controlled by only five corporations.

    “I think what makes people defensive is the attitude that some people think they’re too good for TV. They’ll say everything on TV is crap, which is a passive agressive judgement on anyone listening who happens to have shows they actually enjoy.”

    ^ I don’t think that saying, “TV is crap” is a passive-aggressive judgement on anyone who watches television. I’m a writer – I don’t get huffy when people go around saying: “Ugh, I just HATE to read, it’s so freaking boring!”

    Of course, my first (interior) reaction might be: “That’s because you’re an illiterate ape!” but ultimately I’ll realize that the other person is judging my *pastime* according to his/her own values, and not criticizing me personally.

    To be honest, I think if someone gets their feelings hurt by someone else’s assessment of television they have a little bit too much of their identity wrapped up in their favorite TV shows…

    Also, there’s a lot of not-so-passive judgement going on when you call someone who doesn’t own a television an “elitist”. Doug’s assessment has basis in fact.

    Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland has found that after just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicate torpid (near-comatose) rates of activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness. High frequency alpha waves do not occur normally when the eyes are open. In fact, Mulholland’s research implies that watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall.

    Levels of brain activity are measured by an electroencenograph (EEG) machine. While watching television, the brain appears to slow to a halt, registering low alpha wave readings on the EEG. This is caused by the radiant light produced by cathode ray technology within the television set. Even if you’re reading text on a television screen the brain registers low levels of activity. Once again, regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off your nervous system.

    ^ Above info from the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics.

  122. Erin says:

    I love TV. I think there are a lot of really great shows on, in addition to Lost, and I really enjoy them. I have had a Tivo for 9 years and I never watch live TV except for the odd live sporting or current event. I record the shows I really like and no longer get sucked into watching stupid crap like a dumb reality show marathon just because I was bored and surfing around. I never watch commercials. I’ll start watching a show 15 minutes in so I can skip all commercials.

    That said, it can be a time sink. We are cutting down the number of cable channels we get because there is so much media available than can clutter your time and mind, and it will save a little money. And you can get so much now via Hulu and Netflix.

    I just don’t get the “TV is bad” mindset. Some people might look at Trent and say “look how much time he spends reading, he could be doing so much else with that time.” How is that different than TV? People read for entertainment or edification, same reason they watch TV.

    I also read a lot by the way. I average a couple of books a week at least.

  123. Eddie says:

    One thing I almost never see mentioned as much as it should be is an Over The Air antenna. When I moved into a new place, I decided to not get cable and just go with an antenna. The antenna cost $10, and I get 22 stations. So for the last 5 months, I’ve paid the equivalent of $2 a month for television.

    I’m also somewhat against DVR and internet TV. I’ve always subscribed to the idea of “If I can’t watch the show when it airs, why take the time to hunt for it?” How much time does internet TV really save? I can watch The Office online in 21 minutes or on NBC in 30 minutes, so that’s 9 minutes of commercials. In those 9 minutes: I get ready for bed, brush my teeth, do some exercising, etc. It’s not time lost. However, the times I’ve ventured to Hulu to watch a show, I end up wasting more time. You start watching one episode, then it’s too easy to just keep clicking aroudn to watch other shows.

  124. Kellye says:

    I think the main concept that envelops the “TV is bad” mindset is the difference between productive and unproductive means of entertainment. Learning a language, writing, painting something, gardening, these are productive (and creative, and potentially lucrative) means of entertainment.

    Reading, watching television, and watching movies are generally non-productive means of entertainment. Obviously you can learn something from all three of them, but you are much more likely to be subjected to junk TV than you are a junk book, or a junk movie (unless you deliberately seek out B films and pulp fiction).

    As far as the “time sink” thing goes, I do find that any time we WOULD have dedicated to watching television usually ends up getting spent doing one of the following things: a) playing a boardgame, or b) watching a movie. Neither of these activities is particularly productive either, but I have to say, I find both of them a lot more satisfying than television.

  125. partgypsy says:

    We dropped cable a couple years ago. I do miss some cable, like the Discovery channel and HGTV.
    When the transition was made to digital we got a converter box and an antenna, and so get a handful of channels. As long as we can get movies from Netflix, can watch LOST and the kids can watch their kids shows, we’re happy.
    I definitely notice I don’t watch as much tv as I used to, but I’ve also noticed my internet use has gone up, not so great.

  126. Andi says:

    As I read through the comments, I’d like some clarification. When people say they’ve given up cable, do they no longer have any TV or do they still have access to local channels with an antenna? We live in a very rural area and for weather/news, I would hesistate to give up cable or satellite. That said, we have a very basic package with local channels and don’t watch more than an hour or so a day.

    On a related note, I saw several referrences to giving up a land line phone and only using an internet service or cell. We live not to far from Greensburg, KS – when the tornado hit a few years ago, all internet and cell phones were disabled for months. I like my land line for emergencies.

  127. Leah says:

    Trent, FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS FOR TV, PHONE AND INTERNET?! In Oklahoma, 20 channels of TV and the slowest internet possible costs $44.

    I’m pretty upset about this.

    Who was your cable provider?

  128. Kellye says:

    @Andi: Well, for almost a year we didn’t have a television period. Then I got a Wii for Christmas, so we brought a television back in from storage to play that, but I’ve discovered over the last few months we very rarely use the Wii at all; any gaming we do is usually on free old-school Nintendo/Sega emulators off the desktop computer. We also used to watch all of our movies on the computer too.

    But then our CD drive burned out (unreplaced as of yet) so the television is the only way we can watch DVDs now unless we stream a movie online. So it’s not COMPLETELY useless, but we really just use it as a monitor, and have no cable access at all.

    As far as phones go, we do have a landline for emergencies because we live in a tornado-heavy area, but you can’t make outgoing calls on it. So far it only gets used when I forget to charge my cell phone.

    We actually save no money now on cable at all, because we used the money we WOULD spend on a cable subscription to get premium bandwidth for streaming videos online. Not a necessary expense, but for the amount of time we spend on the Internet, a justifiable one.

  129. Des says:

    @Eddie – I’ve never heard anyone argue that watching TV on the internet saves time (though, I see where it can). I think the benefit is that 1) if you are already paying for internet you can watch shows for free without paying for cable and 2)you can watch the shows whenever you want. I guess that isn’t a feature if you are home all day, but I work 9-10 hours a day, commute, and have scheduled dinners and get togethers nearly every night of the week. If I had to watch shows when they were on, I’d never see anything but infomercials! I can see primetime shows anytime, and for free. Over the air TV sans DVR can’t do that.

  130. Jackie says:

    I didn’t realize Trent watched so much TV to begin with. It must have been a lot of he’s seeing differences in free time and wanting things…

    I have a TV and basic cable (only $5 bundled with my internet connection) but rarely find the time to turn the TV on (maybe 1 hour a month of TV and 1 movie a month borrowed from a friend or Redbox). I don’t know where other people find that kind of down time.

  131. Aaron says:

    I haven’t watched TV in several years, so when I have to listen to it while getting my oil changed I’m shocked at how much blatant propaganda is being broadcast. Even without that irritant, the constant wall of noise during commercials is enough to make want to take a sledgehammer to it.

  132. mshell says:

    Wow there’s a lot of argument about “everything on TV is crap”

    I don’t think everything’s as simple as all that. I don’t judge people for things they watch on TV, I just prefer activities that don’t require TV and in my own living room, I don’t like it when the TV is the centerpoint of the room. Some people, like my dad enjoy having a huge tv and the cable and all that. I don’t think anyone’s arguing that TV is inherently bad, but as a poor college student, it’s a lot easier to watch the few programs that I want to watch on hulu on my computer than to get an expensive TIVO subscription and watch only what I want when I want to.

  133. jan says:

    Our TV was given away three years ago and we really don’t miss it. For Christmas our son gave us netflix which we use occasionally. We have so many other interests that keep us busy.

  134. J says:

    @Eddie — Our TiVo (which we have had since 2001) could work with an off the air antenna or the cable box. You tell it what you want it to record and it deals with recording it for you. Before Netflix, Hulu, bitorrent, youtube and Netflix streaming video, the TiVo was amazing because you told it to record a series and it did it for you in a very user friendly way, and you watched when you were good and ready.

    The cable company DVR’s I’ve seen are usability disasters in comparison.

  135. marta says:

    I went without TV for 8-9 years, but I still watched quite a few good TV shows, that I’d buy on DVD (no Netflix, and no media libraries around). About a year ago, I got cable as part of a cable, phone & internet package, since it was cheaper than what I was paying for internet *alone*. With the DVR, I simply stopped buying DVDs, which means more money in my pocket and fewer things cluttering my place.

    That said, people can do whatever they want with TV — love it, hate it, but it’s true that it’s a cheap form of entertainment (even cheaper than WoW, I’d think). I think it’s best to watch it for a specific show and turn it off when you aren’t really watching.

    As for advertising, eh. I see ads everywhere and I just tune it out when the commercials come up — well, I’ll watch at least once, but that’s because I do some work in advertising. I have never felt the urge to buy a car, a soft drink, fast food or whatever is advertised on TV. :: shrugs :: Are you *that* susceptible to such ads (either in commercials or within the show)?

  136. Kelly says:

    Wow! We just got rid of cable here at our house too. We use Netflix and Hulu if we feel like watching a movie. So far it’s a great deal. I thought the kids would squeal, but they’ve been quite happy with it as well. They’ve been pulling out old toys or spending time in the kitchen with me.

  137. Doug says:

    Kevin, you say this is a touchy subject, but you seem to be the touchy one.

    If you want to watch television, cool. I don’t, for a variety of reasons. Yes, there’s a lot of junk. No, not everything is junk. Yes, I have plenty of other things to occupy my time, all of which are more enjoyable than sitting in front of an electronic box. Am I too good for TV? No. TV’s not good enough for me.

    I don’t see where this is a touchy subject. Perhaps you could respond without name calling? Or is my “elitist genius” approach too elitist?

  138. kitty says:

    @Kellye (#72 and #78)

    “I just feel like my intelligence gets insulted three times every half hour when I’m around a television set.”

    Maybe you didn’t watch the right shows? Tell me how watching an old movie on TCM or watching Great Performances (either music or just drama) on PBS or history channel or something on discover would insult your intelligence? PBS (at least in some areas) has BBC productions of classical novels, in many areas they routinely show Met in HD broadcasts, concerts, they had La Boheme movie with Villazon and Netrebko last December. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, this is a trailer on YouTube: /watch?v=2SNAeTk-ze0 . Does it look “insulting for your intelligence”? What about this – /watch?v=UlGMlxElB3A – I watched it last Sunday? For that matter, while I don’t always agree with what cnbc says, I find it pretty interesting and sometimes educational.

    “I don’t care very much for popular culture, it’s unreliable and generally sucks.”

    I don’t care for popular culture either, but there are good programs on tv; some are part of popular culture, others – aren’t. Some maybe be meaningless, but may provide escape for someone who wants to forget about some personal problems for a few moments.

    “All American television is controlled by only five corporations.”
    1. So what?
    2. PBS is not controlled by any corporation, it’s public TV, it gets donations from large corporations but also from “viewers like you”.

    “I think the main concept that envelops the “TV is bad” mindset is the difference between productive and unproductive means of entertainment. Learning a language, writing, painting something, gardening, these are productive (and creative, and potentially lucrative) means of entertainment. ”

    You can use tv to learn a language too, by for example watching a Spanish-language show on Univision. Watching RAI programs on channel 22 (in my area) on Sunday morning is a great way for me not to forget my Italian. In fact, none of your language program will teach you understanding of spoken language quite as well as watching tv in my experience. This is from someone who speaks 4 languages, 3 of them (Russian – native, English, Italian) fluently, one (Spanish) good enough to understand said Univision programs. I know enough German and French not to get lost in Germany and France, but I don’t count that level as “knowing a language”.

    Also not everyone enjoys gardening. Writing is tiring and I don’t consider it relaxing at all.

    Besides “productive” is not necessarily better than “non-productive”. Going to a classical music concert, opera, ballet, a play is also not productive, but I don’t think you’d consider it “crap”. At the same time, writing may be productive if you have talent, but writing junk that nobody would read is hardly good use of one time. Painting is great if you have at least a small amount of talent, but without it, I don’t see how it’s better than watching TV. Learning to sing is productive or is it? /watch?v=qtf2Q4yyuJ0

  139. Its all about priorities.

    Dropping cable is defintiely an option, and if you do decide to do that, you will more than likely find yourself with more free time to devote to other ventures—-possibly even starting up something that can generate you income.

  140. SwingCheese says:

    We are also netflix lovers! We don’t have pay channels, but we do have the HD converter box, so we still have basic channels, and a few new ones that we didn’t have before (hello retro network! I haven’t seen Magnum PI for awhile!) On the whole, my husband and I are two different types of people – he prefers to have the tv on for background noise, I would just as soon shut it off and listen to the radio. So we do still watch TV, we just don’t bother with cable channels.

    On a Luddite side note, we also don’t have cell phones. Whenever the subject comes up, I’m hit with a barrage of comments about my personal safety, but they always seem a little hostile (or astonished). As I often tell people, any time I drive by myself, I’m in the city, and thus, never out of walking distance for a phone. I understand the convenience, and if I lived in the country, or had an interstate commute, I would consider it, but for the most part, it is as though a majority of the people I talk to have forgotten that they ever lived without cell phones. And most of these folks are older than ! am!

  141. K.C. says:

    We dropped cable when we moved into our present house in 1985. Didn’t have room in the budget for it at that time. We also dropped our subscription to the newspaper. We watched broadcast analog TV when there was something we wanted to see.

    We bought the converter box for broadcast digital. There are a couple of shows we watch when we can get a decent signal. Mostly we watch old movies(VHS and DVD) and old TV series(DVD) on our old television sets. Did I mention that we are old, as well?

    TV ads never really influenced my buying behavior, at least not consciously, but subconsciously, who knows. For some strange reason I have always had a craving for JIF peanut butter.

  142. Karen says:

    YAY for you! We haven’t had cable for the past 8 years. It started as a fiscal decision, but then became habit and I just didn’t want to “find” that extra $50-60 a month for it (that’s for TV only – I don’t know where y’all are getting your bundles). We’ve had an antenna, and that works OK. We had to give up a few favorite shows, and once in awhile we miss some of the great offerings we know are out there. The kids whine about it sometimes, but we watch movies and a few select programs.
    We also had to admit that we (hubby and me) can become addicted pretty easily, knowing that in our younger days, we’d blow a whole Sunday afternoon channel surfing, mostly while saying, “There’s nothing to watch.” It’s true that not everything on TV is crap, and we do want our kids to be able to make their own judgments in this world of overkill and no boundaries. We’re not trying to keep them in a bubble. But we can select a few tv shows from the web or the library, and our kids appreciate the library in a way that they might not otherwise have if they were sitting around with the remote glued to their hands. And, when we limit other “screen time”, our family actually has conversations and we do things together.
    @SwingCheese – I wish we had the guts to give up our cell phones. We do limit the use of them, and one son got a phone (limited texting and minutes, no internet or picture messaging) when he was 14, and the 12 year old doesn’t have one, even though most of his friends do. It’s tough to be in the minority, and I cringe every month when I pay that bill.
    Thanks for bringing this up – it’s interesting to learn about others’ views and habits. And BTW, when I mention that we don’t have cable, it’s sort of a joke. It’s usually followed by “That’s child abuse!” or “Do you have indoor plumbing?”

  143. twblues says:

    I live alone, and I enjoy watching cable TV. I have cut back on how much I watch over the last few years, but I find that I end up spending the hours “saved” on the internet, so what did I really gain? I still have my trusty VCR, so I can record my shows and watch them when I want, and FF through commercials. (Commercials don’t make me want to buy anything, BTW.) I like to watch an episode while riding my stationary bike in the morning. I also take advantage of OnDemand and watch full episodes online. I see no reason to cut it out completely, even if other people think they are virtuous for doing so. To each his own.

  144. jim says:

    “All American television is controlled by only five corporations.”

    That is not factually correct. Even the major broadcast networks are owned by more than 5 companies plus PBS. Thats not even counting the 100’s of cable networks.

  145. Technophile says:

    We have Basic Cable with about 50 channels included in our rent. We have no plans to extend that… so right now the only “utlity” we have related to entertainment is NetFlix (free for us) and high-speed internet ($50/mo or so). I think that’s a pretty good deal! We only watch shows on basic cable channels anyway, plus I have an HD antenna for local channels.

  146. Kathy says:

    We’re mulling over dropping cable in favor of a Netflix account. Our main reason for dropping it, if and when we choose to do so, is that we can’t justify paying for cable when we don’t watch very much of it. The one hurdle for us (on the con side) is that we live in an apartment and we cannot get a digital antenna to pick up the local stations (we’re not facing in the right direction to get reception). Most nights, we’re watching DVD’s that we either bought (because we want to own then) or got from the library for free. I agree with those who say that not all TV is bad. It’s not. Sometimes you just have to dig a little to find the good stuff.

  147. Ben says:

    I gave up cable a little over two years ago. I still have my TV but it rarely gets turned on. Because of it, my life has been richer. I read more, exercise more, spend more time doing hobbies, and am not out of the loop in terms of current events because I get all of my news from newspapers/internet.

    It’s just a matter of getting used to not watching tv. Once it becomes a habit, you don’t even know it’s missing. You’ll also have a lot more time to do other stuff. Finally, saving around $60/month is a bonus.

  148. Nadine says:

    TV can make stupid people more stupid and bright people brighter. It just depends on how u use it. Same as with books!
    I have a DVR, plan the movies or my favorite series ahead of time, watch whenever it suits me and I skip all the commercials.
    Around xmas I found the biggest commercial break in Willy Wonka: 12 minutes a piece. (and they had 3 or 4 of these breaks in the whole movie throughout the evening). Why should I waste my time on 48 minutes of commercials? No more!

  149. Marie Tinamisan says:

    My husband and I actually don’t even own a television set! And it’s been great. I think tv’s are ugly pieces of furniture anyhow. I watch hulu for specific shows and keep up with movies on netflix for the 1 dvd out at a time plan. And I am not embarrassed telling people this at all. I feel very proud of myself. It seemed similar to giving up an addiction, because yes tv does take up all your time and just sucks you right in.

    good for you!

  150. AG says:

    Gave up our TV 5 years ago and have never looked back. Didn’t miss it one bit to tell you the truth. We have been so much happier ever since. There are so many other more important things that will fill your time when you ditch that life-energy sucking TV.

  151. Nik says:

    I’ve never owned a television. Nothing that I intended, but when I went off to college my family didn’t have the money for an extra TV, so I just watched in the common room when I wanted to. I had roommates until I was 24, and they had TVs, so I’d watch theirs. When I got a place of my own, I still didn’t buy one – every time I had the money saved up, I’d realize I’d rather take a trip to visit friends or family than buy a TV! I’ve never thought of TV as bad, I’ve just never had the desire to own one.

    I still live alone, and I find myself going out to do things with friends, or on my own, because I get bored sitting at home alone, and this makes my entertainment bill pretty darn high! So, I’m considering getting a TV now, and possibly a Netflix subscription, so I will spend more time at home cheaply! I’ve tried watching shows on the computer, and frankly I find it uncomfortable on my eyes. If I’m going to watch a movie or show, I’d rather be comfortably ensconced on my couch, crocheting away.

  152. Carol says:

    Trent, which company do you use that only charges $55 for cable, phone and internet? INternet and phone charges added up to about $65 for me. Thanks for the information.

  153. Amanda says:

    @9 We got a connector that can DVR from our laptop. You just hook it up to the antenna from outside. It also has a small antenna, but it doesn’t work well where we are.

  154. Amanda says:

    Another thing we did… Moved our TV and Wii and my DH videogame systems into his game room. (We already were using a spare room for this.)

    Guess what?! We hardly ever go in there now! It’s been a month since we even watched TV off our antenna!

    I hate advertisements.

    I know our life will be different in NFL season but what a good compromise!

  155. Kathy says:

    Well, we did get the Netflix and we absolutely love it!! We still have the cable, though. If I watch anything on TV, it’s the local channels and the occasional cable show, which is why we are still mulling over dropping the cable and upping our Internet connection. Most of the time, the TV is on as background noise. Expensive background noise. :-/ We’re still trying to figure out how to get an OTA antenna to work in our place, short of moving into another place that faces the right direction.

  156. Melissa says:

    We recently moved and decided not to get cable and just subscribe to netflix. It was one of the greatest decisions we’ve made. I feel much more free not being strapped into a cable bill once a month. In addition, I am completely thrilled about the variety of HD PBS channels available in my area. I get them using an old fashioned antennae. The PBS programs are amazing AND commercial free! It’s not the same PBS I remember as a kid. It’s much better.

  157. Steve in W MA says:

    I check out videos at my library once a week and occasionally rent a video from our local video store. I wouldn’t mind getting a digital antenna and a digital converter for my TV so I could get news and channels over the air, but I haven’t sprung for it yet…maybe soon I will be able to pick one up used or on Freecycle.

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