It's been about four months since my husband and I discontinued our cable television service and switched to a combination of digital antenna and Roku streaming. Now that we've gotten used to the arrangement, I thought an update might be helpful for any of you who are considering the switch.
I'll start with the stuff we don't like about our arrangement.
Mainly, it's the huge number of shows that are available for streaming to the computer but not to the TV. Right now, they represent about 80% of the shows we'd like to watch. If we're really motivated, we'll go ahead and watch them on the computer. If we're really, really motivated we'll purchase them via Amazon ($2.99 for HD, $1.99 for regular, which is plenty good enough) and watch them on the TV.
It's odd that the networks can't work out some kind of advertising model that will make Hulu watching more equivalent to regular cable TV watching. Most Hulu shows have minimal commercial breaks and usually show only one ad per break. That's nice and all, but I'd be willing to sit through a standard number of commercials in exchange for getting to stream all my favorite shows to the TV.
In most cases, we've just stopped watching the shows that are too difficult to watch conveniently. Unfortunately, most cable network shows fall into that category, so I didn't catch the last several episodes of "Psych" last season. I'll probably go out of my way to get "Burn Notice" and "Warehouse 13" when they start up again, but I doubt I'll start watching new cable shows unless the model changes.
Some of our issues with convenience could be solved if we simply hooked our TiVo to our digital antenna. That's my husband's job, so I'm just waiting. The antenna itself is another weak link in the chain: sometimes the reception is perfect but a lot of times the picture is pixellated, the audio doesn't synch correctly, etc. We probably just need to find a better place to hang it.
So on to the good things about living cable-free (aside from saving about $90 a month).
Between Netflix and Crackle, we're pretty covered for movies. We still get one DVD at a time from Netflix, but we could probably do without them considering how long it often takes us to watch the disks. Netflix has turned out to have a great selection of stand-up comedy specials, so that's been our go-to entertainment lately when we can't think of what else to watch.
Hulu's interface is a little awkward (still not sure why Subscriptions and Queue aren't the same thing), but the playback quality is good and they have several of the shows we like, including "Raising Hope" and "The Event" (which just got canceled).
One of the best things about dropping our cable is that we simply watch less television now. When you're paying a bazillion dollars for cable, TV watching starts to feel like an obligation to get your money's worth. Now we only watch it when we feel like it, which frees us up to go live our lives the rest of the time. It's rather refreshing.
Photo credit: Rantes