A Life Without Broadcast Television

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I never realized how addicted people were to television until we welcomed a proliferation of house guests into our home over the last month. You see, we don’t have broadcast television. Not cable, not DirectTV, not even an antenna to pick up basic channels. What we do have is Netflix (which we can stream directly through our Wii) and the Internet.
The response you get when you tell people that you don’t have cable is kind of comical. First, they stare at you like they didn’t hear you and then they repeat back to you what you said. Here is a typical conversation about it.
Person X: “Did you see Dancing with the Stars last night?”
Me: “No, we don’t have broadcast television.”
Person X: *Pause* “You don’t have broadcast television?”

Me: “Nope.”
Person X: “That stinks. Is it not available in your area?”
Me: “We could have gotten satellite TV, but we decided not to.”
Person X: “Why not?”
Me: “Because we rarely watch TV.”
Person X: “But what if there’s a show you want to watch?
Me: “I just wait for the season to be over and then I get it on Netflix or I watch the full episode on the Internet the next day.”
Person X: “But what about football?”
Me: “I watch all games live online.”
Person X: “But what about the news?”
Me: “Well, I get my news online too.”
Person X: *Sighs and nods head in confusion*
We absolutely understand that some people don’t get it. In some houses (like those belonging to both of our families), the TV is on all day. Sometimes they watch it, sometimes they listen to it from another room and sometimes it just serves as background noise.
When the Irishman and I realized that satellite TV was our only option up here, we talked about it and we realized that we actually don’t like watching TV. I mean, I don’t know how many times I got sucked into a mediocre Lifetime movie marathon. Before I knew it, 3 movies had passed and I had gotten zero done all day. While some people consider that a day well spent, it just makes me feel like I’ve wasted a chunk of my life that I’ll never get back. With the TV off, I’m more productive, I spend more time interacting with my family and we don’t ever feel compelled to stay home to watch something. Cancelling our service felt very freeing and a lot foreign.
As I mentioned above, we do have Netflix that streams directly from our Wii (as well as our Playstation 3) to our TV and there are a ton of available shows and programs available through their Instant Watch feature. Parker gets all of his kid shows and we have access to newly released movies and popular TV shows. For example, I recently watched all of Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy and the Irishman and I have a running date after Parker goes to bed where we watch 30 Rock. We’re 4 episodes into the first season, but they all of the seasons are available on Netflix.
Part of the beauty of our Netflix/Internet system is that it forces you to be thoughtful about what you want to watch. You no longer have the option of just clicking “ON” and being drawn in to the first thing that pops up. It’s kind of like the days where we all had dial up instead of high speed. You were a lot more selective about what you searched for on the Internet when it took both time and effort to get there. Heck, I was a lot more selective about which emails I opened. It better have been good if I sat there for 10 minutes waiting for the page to load.
Oh and did I mention that Netflix costs us $15 a month compared to the $100 cable bill that we had? That’s a nice little bonus. So, the next time that you inwardly groan at the sight of your cable bill or you spend 15 minutes scrolling through the channels and see nothing interesting, consider the fact that there are alternatives available. Whether you put yourself on a temporary broadcast moratorium or you never look back, I promise that life will look a little bit different on the other side.
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