When we moved to our new house in February, Kathy & I decided not to get bundled cable/satellite television. To people who know me at all, this has been a super surprising development. I consume television pretty voraciously, and love live sports of just about all kinds. I love great television shows, and even love a lot of different types of reality show.
But Kathy & I felt it was time to live more intentionally. That the bundled mass of television channels was enabling easy & bad habits of watching junk.
Maybe it’s raising kids, maybe it’s getting older, maybe it’s just a reaction to the overwhelming crush of people, apps & stuff competing for every spare minute of our attention — but intentionality, focus & purpose — these things are becoming more and more important to me, not only for my own life but for our kids’.
Anyway, after about 20 years of DirecTV, we went only with an internet connection in the new house. (And a landline phone service, whose days seem pretty obviously numbered, too.)
We decided to buy the series we watch from iTunes — in particular things like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Archer, stuff like that. We supplement with a streaming-only subscription for Netflix (mainly for our son), and a Hulu subscription, which we mostly use to watch The Daily Show and Modern Family. We watch iTunes shows and Netflix mostly via the AppleTV box; we watch Hulu through the app on our Samsung TV. It all works fine, and we’re pretty happy with it. The day of delay for availability doesn’t bother us much.
We really missed being able to watch March Madness, though — watching on the iPad, even mirrored to the AppleTV via AirPlay, just isn’t quite good enough. And we wanted to be able to watch a bunch of the Olympics.
So my dad & I installed an antenna on the roof of the house for network TV, and all the networks come in essentially perfectly reliably. Which means we’ll be able to watch the Olympics, and football in the fall, and March Madness next year.
Obviously, this is completely insane. Ridiculous in every sense.
We’ve got streaming over-the-internet-but-delayed-by-a-day shows. And real time sports that we can watch but can’t time shift, subject to, you know, the weather. Some shows we like we can’t watch on the big screen because of restrictions on Hulu that limit shows to “computer only”. And no HBO shows.
So not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and a little ridiculous overall given that we live in an age of self-driving cars. But workable. And workable in a way that’s changed our relationship to television in a really good way. We don’t watch junk much anymore. We focus on a few shows and the TV is off otherwise. We’re finding, too, that the further along we get, the less we care about Hulu & Netflix, too, preferring to pick & choose the specific shows over a buffet of less intentional choices.
A default-off television is pretty different than where we were before, when the default was on (in the evenings). I’d wager that that’s true for many others in our age group (but not for younger age groups) — default-on is somewhat the norm.
Anyway, so far so good. Interesting & positive change for us overall.
postscript: as I was thinking about this post in the car the other day, I realized that in listening to radio, at least in my car, I’ve actually gone the other way, subscribing to Sirius XM for the first time recently. I like it for the audio quality and the serendipitous discovery of new music, plus live sports from time to time. But it’s easy to see how it’s a short term, transitional technology. It will persist a little bit longer, mostly because cars are more durable than other devices and last longer between purchases. But you can see how Pandora and Apple and others will eat this market, too, and soon.