Life Without Cable Television

AA_orphanblack_thumbnail_s2_02_webI haven’t had cable television for over two years and I don’t miss it.  Well, not really. There are times I miss watching some of the shows I used to watch when they first aired – but those are far fewer than the ones I’m now, finally, catching up on.

When I moved and decided that one way to save a bit of money was to cut my monthly cable bill, I worried that I would miss out on viewing some of my favorite shows when they first aired like Doctor Who, American Horror Story and Orphan Black. However, while I often favored shows that aired on channels like SyFy Channel, AMC, BBC, much of my TV viewing was often of shows on channels like the Food Network, Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. These, while they were entertaining and even informative (I’ve learned more than a bit about cooking from the shows on Food Network), they were TV stations that I could still live without. If you haven’t heard of any of the shows mentioned throughout, be sure to check them out. With this being said, if you are in countries where some shows are restricted, you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to allow you access.

Using VPNs to access programs in different countries can be both beneficial and risky. The risk being some providers may choose to take a look at your encrypted internet traffic. And some of this information could get logged. For example, UK based company HideMyAss, HMA caught logging evidence on one of their users. They claimed not to have logged the content of the internet traffic, but did record the IP address of this user’s device when he connected and disconnected the VPN. With this being said, the user had committed an offence, where the police needed information to arrest him for.

Regardless, the main issue was that this company had that information to give away in the first place.

I knew I needed to keep internet access for multiple personal and job related reasons. So, I spent some time reviewing cable and internet package options in my area. If I was going to pay extra for cable, it only made sense to me if the package included the BBC and SyFy channel and these, I soon realized, were only included in the pricier plans. There are often enrollment incentives that present lower monthly payments on packaged deals. However, the monthly prices go up (sometimes a lot) after the first year or two depending on the plan itself.  I couldn’t afford to end up paying $125 or more a month for cable and internet after the initial deal ended – which is exactly what would have happened.

Another major reason for my decision was that I tended to use Netflix streaming and DVDs borrowed from the public library more often than I actually watched shows on cable television. I didn’t want to give Netflix up because they were starting to come out with some well-written, engaging, addictive original programming too. If you haven’t seen Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Daredevil, you should!  Unfortunately not all shows are available on Netflix streaming, like Doctor Who, but I manage. I suppose not having access to everything is helping me become both a more patient and more focused person, when it comes to my TV viewing habits at least.

I may be a season behind on Doctor Who, which makes me feel a bit like a disloyal fan, but having to wait isn’t the end of my world.  Season nine released on DVD about 1 month ago (April 2016) and that means I’ll be borrowing it from a library soon and binge watching for a couple weeks.  And sure, I may be missing some new shows that sound intriguing and that I may actually like, but I can wait until they are available on DVD or streaming to watch them. I’ve found that I’m more focused on the TV shows I watch. When there were so many options, I felt like I could never go back and watch series that I somehow missed or only caught a few random episodes of when they first aired. I’m finally working my way through all the seasons of two shows I’ve had on my to-watch list for a quite a while: Gilmore Girls and X-Files.

At some point, I may end up getting cable TV again, but with other media options that I have yet to fully take advantage of (Amazon Prime and Hoopla) or even try, like Hulu or HBO Go, I feel like I won’t need to. Having fewer options also means I actually have more time to watch TV – which as a person who has many interests, I highly appreciate.  Now, if I only could somehow figure out a way to make the list of all books I want to read more manageable…my Goodreads “want to read” list is frightening!

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