Last quarter 566,000 Americans quit cable or satellite TV. I was one of them. For the first time since 1981 living in this country I have gone without cable TV and you know what? I haven’t noticed it. That’s because for the past year I have been subscribing to Amazon Prime, Netflix and Acorn TV, adding HuluPlus just to cover some of the more popular networks. Total bill after I cancelled my service on June 23? Excluding the Amazon Prime membership which I bought for the discounted shipping, about $21. That’s 20% of my monthly satellite bill.
But honestly I was already relying upon Netflix and Acorn TV for my TV watching for a long time before I called DirecTV and told them I was leaving the country for awhile (to avoid the hard sell and begging to stay subscribed). Instead of turning on the TV and seeing what was available as I had done since I was a kid, I bought a Roku 3 and was binge watching quality shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, as well as British-only fare like Time Team and Doc Martin. Now we’re hooked on Game of Thrones, but for the price of subscribing to HBO I can rent almost an entire season of the show. When HBO Now becomes available, I’ll probably swap out HuluPlus for it (or not until I’m done catching up with the UK version of The Office). The Roku makes navigation and selecting services easy, although searches within the apps range from tolerable (Netflix) to god-awful (Acorn TV).
The bottom line? I’m watching less TV, but the TV I do watch is of high quality, much better than 99% of the shows you will find on extended cable or satellite. Plus I’m saving money overall, even when I add in the cost of additional rentals.
I grew up with the TV an ever present sound in my childhood. I can sing the Love Boat theme or rattle off quotes from various shows of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s simply because the TV was always on. Now I spend at most two hours a day watching it, and what I watch just cannot be compared with the dross you find on TruTV or E!.
But it still took me months to work up the courage to cut the cord. “What if there’s a news event?” I asked myself. And I answered that I already get my news from the internet from several different sources including the British media including Sky News. “What about Walking Dead?” Available for rental at $3/pop as soon as the show airs. Still I dragged my feet until I opened my satellite bill, saw I was paying $103 a month and couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a show on it.
So I made the phone call and haven’t looked back. And the most illustrative fact? My teenaged son didn’t notice that DirecTV was turned off for over a month.