Thursday, October 03, 2013

Successful adventures in TV Cable cord cutting

One thing that seems to span cultures (at least throughout North America) is a genuine hate for cable companies. I think it's likely because we lack the general patience of yesteryear and also debugging things over the phone for those poor bastards on the other end of the line is next-to-impossible. Also, it's particularly frustrating when someone gives you the classic IT Crowd line, "Have you tried... turning it on and off again?" when you have a degree in Computer Science and you can tell that they have sent some sort of signal to your DOCSIS 3.0 modem that is overriding the router's internal default settings and you just want them to fix it. (Yep, that's why I was on the phone for 1.5 hrs on July 4th in Texas). But whatever your reason is for hating cable, I figure it's worth it if you are happy with the service you are getting.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Now, in my case, I use my internet like a crazy person but the TV... not so much. In fact, I've refused many epic offers of bundling and so on which will include many many epic NFL, NBA, NHL and other sports channels I am not nearly cool or jocky (or beer-fueled) enough to ever watch.

Yes, I've been in San Francisco for long enough to become a snob connoisseur of something... and that, my friends, is quality programming.

I've been treated oh-too-well with the likes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, TV shows like Breaking Bad (OMG THE FINALE WAS AMAZING), classics like Duck Soup and - well - anything the Coen Brothers have or will ever make. Netflix has gotten increasingly awesome over the past few years, and any binge-TV watching I am keen to binge on while recovering from the flu (just crushed the entire series of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is at my fingertips. All other epic movies of consequence (or HBO shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm that are typically hard to get without cable) I can get with my Netflix Blu Ray delivery plan. And for those things that you can't wait for (yep, Breaking Bad), Amazon Instant Watch delivers the episode for $2.99 only a few hours after it airs in California -- in 1080p with 5.1 surround sound.

All of this led me to an obvious conclusion... why the hell am I still paying $25 or $30/month for basic cable? Especially when these beauties only cost $40.

RCA HDTV Antenna
I plugged this puppy in, went to to see where the nearest towers were and what channels I could safely expect to get, and boom! After 15 min of finding the best signal spot in my apartment, it works gloriously. I get all the basic channels in crystal-clear HD - ABC, NBC, CW, FOX, etc... basically the only things I ever watch anyway... and it costs not a penny more.

Pretty fantastic cost-cutting measure, and now I will feel more comfortable just to bank the money I save and spend it on something else, maybe upgrade my download speeds (always a possibility), or hey, maybe I'll feel more comfortable spending $4 on a new release download on Amazon Instant Watch now that I'm not shelling out cash for something I'm hardly using (and can get for free anyway).

Pretty sweet that this all worked, and it's a bit ridiculous it took me this long to switch. And hey, if the cable companies or satellite companies have something I REALLY want and I know I'll use in the future, I can always sign up again and I'm sure they'll have a sweet deal waiting for me. And if not, Netflix, Amazon Instant Watch, and just my couple of local news and main station channels will do me just fine -- plenty of excellent programming, when you want it. How quickly this world has changed in the last few years.

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