It’s been a little over a year since I canceled my DirecTV service and did not replace it with another form of cable. And it’s been awesome.
I made the decision to cancel TV because I was looking to cut expenses from my budget. Look at your cable bill. Whether it’s a standalone service or it’s bundled in with your Internet, landline or cell phone, the amount you’re paying for television is high. Only you know whether the amount is worth it. For me, it wasn’t, so I ditched it.
Before I canceled the service, I looked into my options and discovered plenty of free ways to watch almost anything I wanted on TV. Caveat: I’m not a sports fan so losing access to watching the occasional Flyers game was not a big deal. In my neck of the woods, if you don’t have cable, you’re going to miss out on sports.
Just about everything else though is available online and legally. Start with the networks’ web sites. With the exception of Fox, they have new episodes up the day after they air. Fox makes you wait 8 days to see the latest episode.
Yes, these episodes air with commercial breaks. I’d forgotten how much I like commercial breaks. With online viewing, I’ve got 5 breaks of 30-60 seconds each. Plenty of time to refill a beverage, check email, whatever.
Don’t feel like bookmarking every network? No problem. The free version of Hulu has almost every current show (plus it has full runs of old favorites like Magnum P.I. – SCORE!). Again, Fox releases episodes to Hulu 8 days after they air. Stupid Fox.
I’ll admit not every network has online viewing. I couldn’t watch The Walking Dead or Mad Men on AMC. I can, however, purchase a season subscription to the shows through iTunes and watch the episodes plus some extra content the day after episodes air. I paid so much less for these shows than I would have for a cable subscription that ran through the months the show aired. And I own the episodes so I can rewatch whenever I want.
Special events are tough to track down. I couldn’t see any of the Olympics, for example. Presidential addresses are usually found through CNN.com or a similar site.
On the other hand, I’ve cut out watching a lot of fluff. If I don’t remember to look for a show online, I’m not going to stumble across it. This has pluses and minuses.
In the minus category, I miss marathon showings of Independence Day or The Twilight Zone, and I rarely remember to find Mythbusters or anything on the History channel. In the plus category, I don’t flip through channels and settle for the least annoying show, and I no longer care about smizing.