Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Post-Cable Experience

My wife and I were paying $145 per month for our basic cable TV package.  For that amount we got 160 channels, which I found on average that at any given time I was LUCKY if I could find 3 channels out of that 160 that were actually playing something that I wanted to watch.

Generally speaking, of those 3 channels, one of them was almost inevitably a broadcast channel that I could get for free.

After doing it for 9 years, Mrs. Goober and I had our yearly budget meeting, where we go over our expenditures and try to discover if there's anything we could do better, more cheaply, or just stop paying for, altogether.

Cable TV was one of those things.

This isn't for everybody.  I'm not suggesting or advocating it for most folks, but for me, this worked great.

Here's what we did:

  1. Installed a whole-house VHF antenna.  It cost $60.  I hooked it into the RG6 (cable) lines that are already running throughout the house, anyway, so one antenna will work on as many TVs as I want to install.  
  2. I purchased two Chromecasts.  The one-time purchase price for these was half of our cable bill.
  3. I signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus.  Total cost: $15 a month.
This allows us to "cast" from our smartphones, tablets, and laptops.  You can cast YouTube, Netflix, Hulu - pretty much any net-based video streaming service.  I casted a video from Borepatch's site a couple days back, for the family to enjoy.  Your smartphone essentially becomes your remote control and TV guide.  You scroll Hulu, Netflix, and whatever else for whatever you want to watch, then cast it.  

We already had, and would have continued to have, high speed internet, so I don't consider that part of the cost of this setup.  

The pluses:

  1. You watch what you want, when you want.  The show starts when you want it to start, and stops or pauses when you want it to stop or pause.  No more channel surfing and waiting for the show you want to watch come on.
  2. I still get all local news and all major networks via digital TV broadcast, which is actually HD where I live and as good a quality as cable ever provided.  
  3. Massive selection of shows to watch, and you can "binge" watch a show, instead of waiting for next week's episode.  
The minuses:

  1. Netflix and Hulu do not have every show between them.  For instance, I like several Discovery Channel shows, such as Mountain Man, Axe Men, and Deadliest Catch, which are not on either service.  I can still watch them, but I have to buy the seasons (generally about $20 to $25 a season) from Google Play, then cast them via Chromecast.  This isn't really too big a minus, since I'd have to buy a LOT of shows to even touch the $140 a month were used to pay for TV.  
  2. Uses a huge amount off data (about 1 GB per hour) so if you don't have an unlimited data setup, or "high enough" speed internet, you're going to hate it.  Skips in the show, waiting for it to load, and extra data charges.  Ours is unlimited, and fast as hell.  
All in all, this works very well for my family.  No more staying up past ten to watch the "good" shows - you can put them on when you want.  

Also, we save over a hundred dollars a month, even on the bad months when I spend a lot of money buying shows.  

And we got to tell the cable company to GTFO.  Which was awesome.  Because fuck them.  

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