The Cable Free Experiment

Posted by on Jan 21, 2013 in Admin, Blog | 0 comments

Last week, Christophe asked me about going without cable for a month, as an experiment. Out of the two of us, I definitely watch more television so the thought made me a little uneasy. As we talked more about it, though, I began to ask myself, “how much tv do I watch?” and “how do I watch tv these days?”

For the most part, I’ve always had some form of cable and liked seeing things when they happened. So I would race home or move things around so that I could watch award shows or early seasons of “LOST.” I barely knew how to program my VCR to record (I know…my roots are showing) and didn’t want to pay for DVR. So if I was going to see something, it had to be when it was airing.

When I paid bills or engaged in projects that were long and onerous, I’d have the tv going in the background to keep me company. This habit started in my graphic design years when I’d be up late at night working on projects while my roommates slept. God bless, Mz. Cleo, whose tarot card readings in her feisty faux Carribean delivery gave me something to chuckle about as I shaved a piece of soap into a peach or sketched a magazine layout. The best thing to have on during these work sessions, though, was a movie that I had seen before and/or enjoyed. So finding a Harry Potter Marathon or “The Man with the Iron Mask” with Leonardo DiCaprio was another way of saying, “it’s time to get some work done.” (Leo probably has no idea that he has this effect on me)

Nowadays, my habits have changed somewhat. I try to keep up with just a handful of shows and bypass reality shows altogether (Sorry Honey Boo Boo). With the introduction of television episodes available online, I don’t need to worry about taping. So if I miss something, I know that I can see it the next day. The presence of OnDemand through Comcast also helps me keep up with shows and can sometimes deliver episodes faster then the network websites. This works well with the fact that my schedule changes constantly with the demands of my private practice and as time with family and friends becomes harder and harder to coordinate.

I still like doing bills/projects in front of the tv, but often mute the sound. So, as the images flicker just inside my field of vision, I am able to concentrate better on what I’m working on. I realize that I still gravitate to familiar movies vs. television episodes, even when I’ve seen the television episode before. Perhaps it’s due to the longer buildup to action in movies versus the jampacked slugfest of tv.

So, the only thing that remains unaddressed are special events like awards shows or one-time events such as Whitney Houston’s funeral (I watched the whole thing and cried like a baby). It is definitely a tripping point when it comes to things I’d like to watch in its entirety at the time of its airing. But today’s Presidential Inauguration helped show me that somewhere, somehow, someone has got a camera going. So when I got home from work, I was able to enjoy video highlights online and followed it up with Sunday’s episode of “Once Upon a Time.” Yes, I have layers.

The upshot of my conversation with Christophe is that we decided to cancel our cable for a month and invested in a Roku box which streams high definition services such as Netflix and Hulu straight from the internet to our tv. Hulu should help me keep up with some of my tv shows and with the addition of Netflix I should be able to find a treasure trove of familiar movies to be productive in front of. He also has his computer hooked up to our widescreen tv so that we don’t need to huddle in front of his computer like mischievous children. The bonus of having this connection is that we can also watch other programs outside of providers like Netflix and Hulu on a bigger screen.

So the experiment begins and I’ll be curious to see how necessary cable really is to my television watching experience (and how much the internet is able to keep up with the things I’d like to watch). Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to catch up on the latest episode of “Downton Abbey.”

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