Nearly 5 million people now live in a “Zero TV” household.
That is a household with no incoming television signal. No cable. Not even bunny-ears. My wife and I aren’t quite in that category, but we did cut our satellite cord a couple of months ago.
The truth is we don’t miss cable TV at all.
We certainly don’t miss the monthly bill either. When we first signed up, the bill was reasonable. It was under $100 for both TV and the Internet. After a year, though, the bill seemed to increase every month. Finally, when it reached $145 (without any movie channels) we said enough and called to cancel.
Sure, money was a motivating factor but there were so many reasons to drop the service. I got tired of the daily routine of coming home from work, plopping into my favorite spot on the couch and turning on the TV. I got tired of saying, “There’s nothing on.” And I finally got tired of paying to watch a movie I’ve already seen 20 times, especially when I already own the DVD.
Ultimately, though, the deciding factor was the availability of the TV shows on the Internet. We have Netflix, which we have used to catch shows we might have missed. There’s Hulu and Amazon for current TV shows. It requires a little work and a little organization to keep up to date, but the savings alone have been worth it.
Amy and I now watch TV for a purpose. Not just because there is a flat-screen TV in the living room or because there is nothing to do. I couldn’t justify spending that much money on cable channels I’ll never watch. Sure, I miss watching live sports. I don’t get ESPN anymore. But I’m still able to catch some that air on the networks with our fancy new digital bunny-ears. Truth be told, dropping $145 a month to watch a couple Boston Celtics games per month isn’t money well spent.
I even understand that making great television costs money (about $3 million per episode to make Showtime’s “Homeland,” $2.5 million per episode of “Mad Men”) and I’ll continue to watch them wherever I can find them when it’s convenient for my schedule. Technology has made watching TV a reality without even needing a TV.
Technology has long had this affect of making goods more available and affordable. Before Henry Ford installing the assembly line, it took 12 hours to build one car. After, the process took only an hour and a half. Because of this new efficiency, the costs came down dramatically so that middle class families could afford their own Model T.
There’s no question technology has changed the way we watch TV. It brought hundreds of channels into our homes. With that came the expansion of original TV programming. But, unlike with the Model T, cable prices have only increased every year.
My hope is cable and satellite companies embrace these technological advancements by offering different packages that might cater towards my television viewing needs. Something more along the lines of what I’m willing to pay for it.
If not, Amy and I will be happy to stay cord-free and continue to watch the same TV shows without giving any money to a cable or satellite company, even if I miss out on a few basketball games.