The Size of Your Package

Why are we so wedded to the idea of having dozens of channels we never watch to occasionally catch movies and shows we have already seen–all with commercials.  Clearly, I understand why people have cable.  I got cable as soon as I got a real job and a real TV after graduating college and had it up until a few months ago. I also recall delaying canceling the cable by one month because I panicked that my stepfather would not be entertained for Thanksgiving.  I even insisted on having a TV in the bedroom, though my husband didn’t really want it there.

When making the choice to quit cable, I thought seriously about the shows I would no longer get.  And I had gotten quite enamored of DVR’ing certain shows and having my own commercial-less marathons. So I am not coming at this from a position that TV is filth and that we would all be better off not watching it.  I like TV.  What I didn’t like was paying so much money for a “package” that had nothing to do with the way I wanted to watch TV.

We were paying around $60 a month for a package that didn’t even include HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. I brought up the idea one day to get rid of the cable and explore other options. Luckily, my husband does not watch sports or this conversation could have gotten ugly.

We did some research. Looking back, I can’t even remember why we went with the choice we did, but in the end, we decided on Hulu Plus, and for less than $10 a month we can watch TV. The transition has not been perfect. Hulu Plus has a lot of great trendy shows… but not the trendy shows I watched before. It seems that not all stations have jumped on the internet TV bandwagon…though I think it is only a matter of time before they will.  For example, none of the home improvement channels have come along for the ride, or CBS. Hulu Plus also has a lot of weird foreign stuff. Yes, I know that I am not the only person or race watching this stuff, but there is a lot of it on there, which, to me, means that much of Hulu Plus does not appeal to me.  Also, if you flip through Hulu Plus it seems that there is a lot of content and “TV” channels, but a lot of those channels either have no content or only clips. It is very misleading. Hulu Plus also still has annoying commercials.

I am still tweaking my optimal TV viewing package.  I am probably going to get a TV antenna, which I understand allows you to get up to thirty channels since the digital conversion.

This would include CBS.  Currently, I can watch CBS on the computer, and even mirror it to my big TV, but CBS only holds a few episodes at a time and the quality of watching it either on the computer or on the TV is poor. The cost of an antenna would be around $50, but it is a one-time fee and would solve a lot of my issues.  And, conveniently, since this form of TV does not require one-year or two-year contracts, I can still switch to Netflix without penalty.

So, in short, even though I am still trying to get the right formula, I know that the result for us is a savings of around $50 a month on a recurring bill.  That’s potentially two round trip tickets to visit my sister. $600 a year just for adjusting the way I watch TV.

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