What’s a TV geek without TV?: My experiment with not having cable

In my apartment reboot, one of the things that ate shit was my Dish TV. (Long story that involved not being able to close doors anymore due to my new floors being thicker than shitty apartment carpet.)

I was all too hasty in canceling my Dish subscription (sorry to the four people I left stranded without an HBOGO login on the night of the Game of Thrones finale!). My plan was to get ATT Uverse, but… turns out, the website lied, and Uverse isn’t available in my ‘hood (despite it being available 1 mile away!?). They can offer me DirecTV — but I’m not willing to sign a two year contract, because I’m not willing to admit that I’ll still be living in this same apartment in two years. And long ago I swore to NEVER get Time Warner Cable again.

Then I thought, ‘most of my friends have no cable TV whatsoever, maybe I could pull that off too? I’m young and hip… ish.’

So I got Amazon Fire TV, and challenged myself to live without cable TV.

It’s… not been going well.

I don’t know how the kids do it these days with no DVR and waiting for new episodes. Do they pay to watch the new ones every time? Doesn’t that come out to be pretty close to paying for cable? Do they do what I’ve been doing and watch new shows with their friends who have cable? Do they have to pay for accounts with all kinds of websites like Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBOGo, and Netflix? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get cable?

The most frustrating part about not having access to regular TV is that I feel like a part of me is missing. What’s a TV geek without TV? I feel my nerd cred slipping away every time someone asks me if I’ve seen the new episode of Adventure Time, and I have to admit that I haven’t. What the hell are my girls Princess Bubblegum and Lumpy Space Princess up to now!? I have no idea!

Unlike me, The Woogs does not care about watching cable TV.

Unlike me, The Woogs does not care about watching cable TV.

So I gave in and did the thing I swore I would never do again: I got Time Warner fucking Cable. I know, I know, they’re the worst!!! It even took one no-show, one “we can’t do this without a supervisor,” and one supervisor to run it through the wall, into the closet, out of the closet, down the hallway, and into the living room to get it. But they don’t have 2-year contracts, they’re cheap, (and certain baseball fan I’m dating will be able to watch the Dodgers on TV now) so… yeah.

I even talked about this with my freaking therapist. (Yes. My lack of TV angst is therapy money-worthy.) She asked me WHY I thought I had to conduct this experiment. I thought about it and answered: Because I was made to feel like I had a problem. My ex constantly compared my TV watching to doing drugs. He made me feel bad that it was an addiction and it was “all I wanted to do.”

It’s been over two months now, and I have proven to myself that I’m not so incredibly addicted that I can’t live without it. But I also proven to myself that I like living with it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with me (except the lack of new episodes of Last Week Tonight). I’m not an addict, I realize, but I am a total TV and pop culture nerd. TV one of my passions. Turns out, that’s okay.

It also turns out that I don’t know how the kids these days do it. Kids these days? How are you doing it? I’d like to know…

11 thoughts on “What’s a TV geek without TV?: My experiment with not having cable

  1. Ry

    I am not one of the kids these days but I am also definitely not much of a TV nerd, so one or two subscriptions is enough for me to get by without. The actual kids these days that I know of…yeah, what Catherine said. Never underestimate how quickly a young mind raised on interactive media can find a way to obtain whatever screen obsession they have this week regardless of whether it’s legal because really, it’s the moral equivalent of violating a minor traffic law to a lot of people.

  2. meganfinley Post author

    Ah yes… Not wanting to leave a comment and piss off any “industry peeps” that read my blog, a friend of mine contacted me privately to tell me about BitTorrent. Sounds like that solution wouldn’t have worked for me either, since I like to watch tv while I’m working on my computer. So the computer-as-tv thing is actually where I think my problem lies with not having cable.

  3. onesonicbite

    I’ve always been the type who doesn’t watch shows as they air. So I think watching shows as they air isn’t that huge of a deal. BUT my husband and I are huge film/writer nerds so we have high standards. We use to use BitTorrent in college, but really don’t anymore since quality isn’t that great and because we want to watch things on TVs not computers. I think majority of the population doesn’t care as much, but we do.

    But we use a collection of sources- Netflix, Hulu (for things that are currently airing like the Daily Show, okay we use Hulu for the Daily Show), YouTube (for clips like Conan, Last Week Tonight, or education high productions like Crash Course or SciShow), the library (we usually get HBO and Showtime shows from there, I know, the library has TruBlood?), and get this- AN ANTENNA! Yes, we get broadcast the old school way, and I am surprised how many people just straight up don’t understand this. It can suck, somedays the broadcast goes in an out. Our old apartment would have planes fly by, which wasn’t distracting except it would interrupt the TV broadcasts! It gives us our New Girl, Modern Family, and Once Upon a Time fix, and we watched the Women’s World Cup this way. And FYI we bought a smart TV so we actually use Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube directly on our TV. I recommend everyone to get one this day and age.

  4. KathyRo

    It’s funny that you post this because one of the items on my to-do list is “get rid of cable TV”.

    It’s my intent to use Netflix, amazon and possibly HBO Now ( but only if my parents cancel their HBO..LOL ).
    I might supplement with Hulu and Vudu. We’ll see.

    I’m also not adverse to torrenting. You’re not limited to your computer when you do that — there are ways to get it to your TV. I have a “smart” TV but you can get other devices that are equally “smart” ( i.e. are networked, have app capability and ultimately put out a signal to your TV ) like TiVo, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku for a lot less money than a new TV. Even my $150 blueray player is “smart”. I’ve even put torrented movies onto my tablet and streamed them to TV. BUT — all caps because this is no small but! — the network and display issues are the least of your worries. There are a plethora of video formatting issues that need to be surmounted as well. If you are planning to use BitTorrent as your entertainment source on your TV, experiment before you turn off cable.

    [A special note to any “industry insiders” who might be reading this: if you make your work easily accessible on a non-subscription basis and if the fee is reasonable, I will do that first. I torrent when I have to. So if I can rent your show for a couple bucks off amazon, I will pick that over scrabbling all over the Internet to find a copy of dubious quality, converting the format to something my TV-enabled app understands and then 8 hours later finally streaming it.]

    For me, I think this will be less than my cable bill because frankly I don’t watch much television. (Cue loud gasp from the audience!) There was a 10 year period of my life when I had no television and it kinda broke me of the habit. Since my flavor of geek is bookworm-engineer, this might actually enhance my street cred.

  5. Jess Bury

    Cable isnt really a thing here in Australia.. some people have it, maybe 5 in 100 or so.
    But Australia has the highest rate of illegal downloaders… thats how the kids do it around here!
    When i visited the US i was blown away by having like 250 channels to choose from.. and still not finding anything that grabbed my fancy (except endless reruns of the simpsons)

  6. Christa

    I’ve been sans cable for about 4 years now… I primarily rely on Netflix (currently watching the X-Files) and networks’ websites ( like Fox for Bones). I’ve really gotten used to it and don’t miss it. I don’t have a TV to just turn on for the noise or distraction, so my media consumption is much more purposeful. I read or spend time with friends to entertain myself. I’ve talked about setting up a viewing schedule with friends for Doctor Who, but that hasn’t come to fruition yet. At this point I don’t want cable ever again.

    TLDR – you get used to it and I think it’s better.

  7. Janey

    I watch very little tv. My partner likes to come home and space out in front of it, and I will join him to watch documentaries or Grand Designs or live comedy, and now even *gulp* I have learned to watch some cricket. But I am actually much more big on sitting at another chair with a cat and a book. I honestly don’t like tv fiction anymore. Joss whedon ruined it for me by being so good that nothing can live up to Buffy angel firefly. Here in Oz cable is what we call foxtel and there is only foxtel, and the five normal free to air channels plus their digital ones. Until Netflix and stan came out recently us ozzies have never had many channels to choose from. I had always downloaded a show a season at a time and marathon watched it.

    I’m sure there are some cool tv shows I’m missing, but I still prefer reading. If I go back to study I will probably watch a little more tv because I’ll be sick of books by the end of the day.

    That’s how this kid does it! We are all different :)

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