Cable-Free: One Month Update

Now that we’re about a month into the new TV season I thought I’d give an update on our cable-free experiment.

So far we have had little to no trouble finding most of our favourite TV shows. At times I do have to wait a day or two for certain shows to become available for download, and certain ones are not always easy to find, but once I figured out that my shows will show up eventually it quickly became part of everyday life.

The price of individual iTunes episodes turned out to be a little more expensive than we had originally thought, so we did cut back on a few shows that, while interesting, didn’t seem worth the extra two to three dollars per episode. Small amounts here and there can add up quickly by the end of the month! I’d like to see the price come down for individual episodes on iTunes in Canada, especially for the half-hour programs. Right now it costs less to rent some movies that it would to rent two episodes of a sitcom that, added together, only provide about 45 minutes of entertainment.

It doesn’t make sense and I honestly think they would make more money if the price for individual hour-long shows went down by a dollar or two and if half-hour shows were just a little less expensive than that. At this point, viewers have a real disincentive to choose shorter programs when we can watch an hour long show or a movie for the same amount of money.

Download speeds do seem to vary quite a bit depending on the time of day. We’ve learned to download our shows first thing in the morning if at all possible, as they seem to finish more quickly that way. Downloading more than one show at a time also seems to help speed up the process. (Or maybe it just seems that way because I have more than one show to look forward to? 🙂 )

If there’s one thing I haven’t missed one bit, it is commercials. I can’t stress enough how nice it is to avoid these interruptions, especially in our drama and scifi/fantasy shows where it is very common to cut away at the most inopportune scenes. Once or twice now I’ve stumbled across a traditional television program while away from home. No sooner do I begin to become interested in a program than a commercial pops up. These interruptions are becoming an excuse for me to wander away from the screen and do something else every 5 minutes. I think I’m losing my tolerance for commercial breaks as I don’t remember noticing them so often in the past!

As the weather grows colder, Drew and I are spending more and more time indoors watching our shows, reading and surfing the Internet. The temptation to follow more and more interesting shows is only going to grow for us as winter approaches and the average daily temperature drops closer to freezing. I’ve been trying to come up with alternative (and free or inexpensive) indoor activities so that we don’t spend too much time staring at computer or television screens.

Honestly, I wish we’d done this a year or two ago. The benefits far outweigh the occasional slow download time, new episodes that take a little extra time to show up, or the temptation to begin watching more and more programs over time.


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7 Responses to Cable-Free: One Month Update

  1. teresa

    I’m curious to what kind of ‘indoor’ activities you are considering? We seem to go in phases where we get fed up with TV and try to cut back. Now that we have satellite, we wouldn’t consider not watching because we pay so much per month to watch! I do agree with you about commercials. We tape a lot on the DVR and get used to fast forwarding through them and when we can’t it seems more and more disagreeable!
    I thikn the one thing about doing something ‘alternative’ is that in the evenings when you are tired, it’s just so easy to veg in front of the TV.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not really sure what we’re looking for, to be honest. We like to go bowling, browse at the bookstore or library for an afternoon or meet friends at the local coffee shop or a cheap place for lunch. We both like musicals and live theatre, but tickets for these events tend to be expensive so we only go once every few years.

      Occasionally we’ll go to the movies if it’s a film one or both of us has really been looking forward to, but even that is becoming too expensive for our tastes. It’s so much cheaper to rent movies and watch them at home!

      It is nice to have tv shows to watch when we don’t have the energy to do anything else. I don’t mind doing it over an afternoon or evening, but I tend to feel some cabin fever if that’s the only thing we do all weekend.

      I _love_ board games (Drew does not). He likes to go to the mall and window shop (I do not.)

      I know there’s more to do out there. It is often a little tricky to find inexpensive, indoor activities that we both like. 🙂

  2. teresa

    Check out
    It’s a great site. I used to sell my art ‘things’ in their ‘store’. They have all kinds of things geared towards writers. You might find something interesting here?!

  3. I hadn’t thought of paying for a download service versus a cable service. Interesting.

    Totally agree with you that the price needs to come down for episodes, the music industry made that mistake and its now too late for them. If they’d charged very small amounts from the beginning, the incentive to find free alternatives might not have been there. Arguably it’s also too late for TV and film for that reason, I DL all my stuff for free from BitTorrent. It’s rare I can’t find what I want, and the popular stuff downloads very fast.

    I can’t agree enough with you about the joy of no adverts. On the rare occasions when I catch “normal” TV, I can’t stand them, it’s enough to make me turn it off.

    Jonathan from Spritzophrenia 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I honestly thought that the TV and film industry would have learned from the mistakes made with music over the last decade or two. It just seems like common sense!

      Another thought, Jonathan – I don’t know which shows you watch, but some TV channels are beginning to post some of their shows on their websites. They’re generally a few weeks behind, and the ones I’ve seen do tend to have repetitive commercials, but they are free! 🙂

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