Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cable Free

Our house has been cable free for a little over a year now.

Before we cut our cable, we watched TV all the time. We would have it on in the background, even when we weren't watching it. I'm not saying this is bad. I know a lot of other people who do the same thing. Nick and I realized that we were only watching the same four or five channels out of 70. We didn't have hundreds of channels or DVR. I was also bad about doing nothing but watching TV while home all day.

When Millie was a small baby, I would watch TV instead of doing things around the house, or the TV would keep me from running errands at a certain time. I am a huge TV fan, and I always have been. I thought not having cable would be hard for me. However, I have loved it! Let me tell you how we watch TV now.

My sister's family cut cable first, and they told us about a Roku box.
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We bought one of these at Best Buy for about $80 dollars, and plugged it up to our TV and the Internet. It can also work on wireless Internet, but our Internet router is right behind our TV. 

You may be wondering, what is a Roku box? 
According the description on 
Roku 2 HD makes it so easy (and so affordable!) to stream tons of entertainment to your TV instantly—without a PC.
750+ channels and counting. Features the top sources, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, and Amazon Instant Video.
High-definition streaming—up to 720p HD.
The smallest footprint. The size of a hockey puck, Roku 2 uses less power than a night-light.
The easiest setup. Works with virtually any TV, includes built-in wireless, and sets up in minutes.
It is basically a box plugged into the TV and the Internet that allows us to watch Netflix instant directly on our TV. We can also listen to Pandora and access hundreds of other Roku channels. If you have a Hulu, Amazon Instant, or HBO account you could also watch those through the Roku box. 
All of the Roku channels that we have are free. They are a little like apps for your phone (by the way there is a Roku app for your phone that allows you to use your phone as the remote). For example, we have the Fox News station. It is not the live station like on cable, but we can watch clips from different shows and listen to the live radio that is playing on satellite radio. Another example is the Disney station. It is not the cable Disney channel, but it has short cartoons, clips from Disney movies, and classic Mickey Mouse cartoons. 
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The thing we watch and use the most is Netflix instant. We pay about $16 a month for Netflix. We get one DVD at a time in the mail, and we can watch all of the shows or movies that are offered instantly. We discovered that the shows we were watching on those four or five channels on cable were almost all offered on Netflix instant. The best thing with Netflix, or any other Roku station we use to watch movies, is that you can fast forward, rewind, or pause a show at any time. So I don't feel obligated to finish a show all in one sitting. I can hit pause and leave it knowing it will start right where it left off. 
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There are hundreds of kids shows offered on Netflix too. Millie enjoys Veggie Tales, Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Train, and several others from the Roku box. I like these shows much better than what is offered for her on cable. I can also monitor it better this way. I am also able to stop it whenever I want. The TV doesn't just keep playing like on cable. So when a show is over, she stops watching. 

Questions you may be asking:
How do you get local or live news?
Well we also have an antenna. It is plugged right into our TV, and we get a few channels this way. We mainly watch NBC (local news, Today Show) and PBS (Downton Abbey) through the antenna. Some people also get ABC and CBS, but we don't. I think if we bought a better antenna then we would.
We can move the antenna out of the way behind the TV when we need to. 

Do you watch any shows that are currently running?
Yes. All the time. I watch all my shows on my computer either the next day after they aired or weeks later.,, and show full episodes of their shows. For example, Nick and I still keep up with How I Met Your Mother. It airs on Monday nights. We watch it every Tuesday night by plugging up my computer to the TV. So we watch it on the TV instead of a computer screen. There are also a few shows on ABC I keep up with that I watch in the same way. For a lot of shows, we just wait until the new season comes out on DVD and get them through Netflix in the mail. For example, we are watching season 5 of Mad Men on Netflix instant. Season 6 just started on AMC last Sunday. So we won't see the new season until it comes out on DVD. We have also watched several HBO series this way.

How do you watch sports?
Football is the main sport we watch on TV. It helped that Auburn wasn't too good this year, and most of their games were not on TV anyways. If a game comes on NBC then we can watch it through the antenna. If not, then we can almost always find it on the Internet and connect the computer to the TV. We watched most football through the internet, including the Super Bowl. We also didn't care about March Madness (don't hate us), but I think all or most of the games were streamed through the Internet. There was not a sporting event that we missed that we wanted to see. Nick never watched much Sport Center on ESPN to start with. There are also a lot of sports channels on the Roku box. A lot of ESPN special shows are also on instant Netflix.

Do you watch less TV?
Yes, I think so. I usually watch the news on the Today Show in the morning, and then I turn off the TV. Sometimes we watch something while eating lunch, or I'll watch something when Millie naps. Then I try not to turn the TV back on until Millie goes to bed, unless it is the 5:00 news or a show for Millie to wind down to right before bed time. In the afternoons I try to play music (through Pandora, through the Roku box), instead of watching TV. I also know that if I'm interrupted or can't finish a show right now, I can pause it and watch it when I have time. I don't feel like I'm missing a show by not having the TV on constantly. The shows Millie watch are also available at any time. She doesn't have to watch a particular show at a particular time because of when it airs on cable.

Is there anything on cable that you cannot watch or miss?
I have actually gotten used to not having cable, so I don't really miss anything. The only thing I miss a little bit is 24 hour news stations. However, I follow a lot of news stations on Twitter, and I'm able to get the highlights there. Nick also liked to watch the History channel, but there are hundreds of documentaries on Netflix. Nick and I find that when we go to a hotel or somewhere with cable it is hard to find something to watch.

Anything else?
Having the Roku box is also great for waking up in the middle of the night (feeding a baby, just can't sleep). I can watch what I want at 2:00 instead of infomercials on cable.

We are also saving money. Instead of paying about $100 or a little more a month for cable, we pay $16 a month for Netflix. The Roku box was a one time purchase of $80, and the antenna was about $30. We are saving almost $1000 a year!

Like I've said, there are a lot of movies and TV shows through Netflix and other Roku stations. We can easily pick a movie or good TV show to watch in the evenings. I love that Netflix has classic shows like The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.  They even have newer movies and TV shows available. The Hunger Games movie is on instant Netflix now. I can watch it whenever and however many times I want.  Shows like The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Grey's Anatomy, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and some reality shows are also available to watch instantly.

This has worked for our family, and I don't plan on switching back to cable anytime soon.

1 comment:

  1. I am IMPRESSED!! Comcast is a big bill for me. I don't have an engineer to help me figure all of this out, but when you and Nick come out sometime, you'll have to help me.