Cutting the Cable

Last month – I had to double-check because I couldn’t believe it’d been that long – Suzanne and I officially cut the cable and turned in our cable box. No more movie package. No more DVR. No more hundreds of channels with barely anything worth watching. Done.

We’d talked about it for months. Probably longer. But we never really got serious about it. Then it came time to pay July’s cable bill and I was like, “I really wish I didn’t have to pay this bill.” At $160 for cable and Internet, it’d grown pretty large. Sure, I could have called and gotten them to move us to a new promotional plan, but that’s a hassle. I guess I’m the kind of customer they like.

I figured I could get away without cable pretty easily. Most of the time I’m watching a St. Louis Cardinals’ game on MLB.TV or using the computer in the evenings. Occasionally, I’ve even picked up a book in my recent efforts to make time for the things that I’ve often said I don’t have time for. And with football season around the corner, the majority of those are on broadcast television. I can also usually find an online stream with racing on it if I really want to get my racing fix.

So for me, I didn’t foresee it being a problem. But Suzanne is at home with Micah all day long. I know it’s an easy thing to watch to keep some level of sanity during the day, so I didn’t want to be the guy who took away an escape for her. And if I brought up the topic, I was afraid she’d just agree with me without really being totally for it. So I said, I’ll let her bring it up.

A week later we’re eating dinner and she goes, “I’ve been thinking we should talk seriously about getting rid of cable.” I was hoping you’d say that. I’m right there with you, babe.

The next part was the fun part for me. The research. What can I say? I’m a nerd.

I found which will let you punch in your address and it’ll show you where each local channel is broadcast from and then let you know your odds of receiving it based on a color system. Come to find out, the Consumer Electronics Association has a color code system for antenna strength. Given that everything was red or blue, we were going to need a good, solid antenna with a 50 mile range according to the CEA.

I considered an exterior antenna first. We have a satellite dish mounted on the side of the house and I felt like it’d be pretty simple to replace it with an antenna. But the main attraction of such an antenna was that I could feed both the family room and the bedroom television with it. Some were going to require a pre-amp and then some wanted power and I was getting beyond the simple setup I was hoping for.

So I did a little more research and found an interior antenna that I decided to give a test drive. If it didn’t work, I could always return it and buy the exterior one. I settled on the Mohu Leaf 50. Two days later thanks to Amazon Prime, it arrived and I got to set it up.

My plan was to set it up in the living room window and run the cord down the corner and then around to the television behind furniture. The plan worked perfectly. We hooked it up and then the moment of truth, I told the TV to find me all the channels it could.

The result was a surprising moment of success. We expected to get the standard CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX without much of a problem given where the transmitters were located. The first channel we wanted, but doubted our ability to get was going to be PBS (so Micah could have something to watch eventually). Based on our color code for that channel it was recommended that we get a large directional antenna with a 60+ mile range. But we got it.

And we even got the Ion TV station out of Fayetteville (as well as its PBS station) that first night that were 50+ miles away. Though we’ve learned it depends which way the wind is blowing because we just don’t get them all the time.

Two days later the one for the bedroom TV arrived and I took the cable box with me and dropped it off. They asked me if I’d be interested in another promotional price. I replied with, “Sure. If you can get the price to about what I’d pay for just Internet.” Needless to say, there wasn’t such a promotional option.

The change has been pretty solid for us. And you can’t really beat saving $100+ a month.

As I expected, I haven’t really felt it. I do miss my ability to watch The Big Bang Theory on TBS every night when I want a change of pace from baseball. Neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime offer it streaming (get on that guys!).

Suzanne has her Netflix subscription. So she’s happy with her ability to watch movies and she’s been watching her way through Grey’s Anatomy.

One of the things we’re realizing is that the big difference with cable TV and without is that with cable TV you could just browse through the channels until someone else provided you something worth watching. With a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscription, you have to pretty much know what you want before you get there. It creates a very different way of watching television and finding things worth watching.

We’re finding we watch a lot more local news now too. So we’re more aware of what’s going on around us. And we’re getting Micah into Jeopardy as part of our pre-bedtime routine. Trying to make him smarter. 🙂