Cutting ties with cable

Summer is nearly here with long evenings to take walks, write for a few hours, have meandering conversations and hang out with loved ones. This seems like the right priority to me, eschewing the canned entertainment options that would otherwise claim our attention. It took a while to come to the decision, but we finally cut our ties today with the cable company. No Comcast. The freedom is practically dizzying.

When we were making the decision, we first cut the main movie channels, cutting the bill down to around $100 rather than over $200 a month. Then we were down to extended basic services, though we didn’t have any interest in 3/4 of the stations we had available to us. Gradually, we realized we are ‘binge watchers’ or ‘bingers’. We have a few channels we watch, and only a select few shows that were being recorded to TiVo. The programs would sit there until we felt like watching a set at a time. Live TV hasn’t been in our lexicon for over 15 years now. It brings me to wonder why we didn’t take this step earlier. Likely a legacy of our parents’ generation, where TV was something we gathered around together (all five stations we had available in Australia that is — at least while I was growing up). I think my parents had a TV before they had a lounge suite, come to think of it.

TiVo freed us from VCR recording on the actual day a program aired. We used to get together on Fridays to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with friends back in the 90’s, recorded on VCR. Then with TiVo, we were freed from the same-day arrangements. Gradually, we stopped thinking about ‘live tv’ at all.

We got Hulu, Netflix and we have Amazon Prime. Then recently, XBox 1 joined the options. With a Smart TV, we’ve been dodging the slow speeds of those services on Comcast box and going straight to streaming from the web, with more and more occasions where we watch a series in a binge session on a rainy weekend. The place of TV as a central character in our lives was diminishing. We even stopped buying physical media as much when we wanted to watch a whole series – unless it was a hard-to-get program. British Sci Fi, old Sci Fi, series from the 80’s and 90’s, but not so much modern stuff. The modern series are all available on the various services, many of them for free.

Over the last year, my partner and I have been focusing more on being present with each other. We’ve also been more focused on making content than consuming it. Writing as an activity is at least as enjoyable as watching a show. Talking about it is nearly as exciting. And that brings us to a summer of freedom. We talked about taking a summer break from cable, however, I think our love affair with television is over. We shall transition fully to a la carte, paying for and watching only what most appeals to us.

Good bye cable. I don’t think we’ll miss you.

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