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Nope, We Don’t Have Cable

television in the rain by striatic on Flickr We didn’t “cut the cable cord,” we never had it installed in our apartment. And yet, the boyfriend and I are total “Heroes” and “LOST” addicts – how do we live?

I’ve written about how to live without television before, but I wasn’t really doing it back then, because I was living with my parents, who had the full cable+Showtime+HBO package. I have to admit, I did enjoy the access to awesome Showtime shows like “Dexter” and “The Tudors.” And getting “LOST” and “Heroes” in HD was rather nice, as well.

But my crazy college schedule included a lot of night classes, and we didn’t own a Tivo or a DVR. So I still ended up watching most of my shows online. Hooking a laptop into a television became no big deal for me, and I would stream episodes directly from the ABC or NBC websites.

It only felt natural to get cable set up as a part of moving into our first apartment. I mean, the cable guy had to come by anyway to set up our cable-based internet connection, so why not order a basic package?

We didn’t, because we don’t need it, and we don’t really use it. Obviously, if you really get use out of a cable package, then it’s probably worth the money for you. But that’s just not true for us – we prefer to support online streaming sites like Hulu because of their flexibility and the way they advance online video. I’m all for paying for things you enjoy and use… but for me, that just doesn’t include cable.

So nearly four months in this apartment now, and still no cable. We don’t even have rabbit ears or a real TV yet. We’ll get there (mostly because I really, really want to get a Nintendo Wii!), but we’re managing just fine without those things. And that, guys, is how you live without television.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Hulu’s plan to switch to a paid model, and whether I (as a non cable subscriber) would pay for Hulu. The answer is yes, definitely. How much I would pay is what’s really in question, and would have to depend on how the system works and how much advertising there is and a host of other factors. But I would pay because services like Hulu are my preferred content-delivery systems, and I believe in paying for value. And not just in a fluffy “I say that I pay for value but I don’t really mean that” way. I’m the type of person who really likes to vote with her wallet.

So what about you – do you watch television? If so, are you getting it in the way that best fits your lifestyle, or are you paying for a television delivery system that’s not quite working for you? And if the latter is the case, what’s stopping you from switching?

22 responses to “Nope, We Don’t Have Cable”

  1. Wojciech Kulicki

    I would pay for Hulu as well, just like I pay for on-demand music through Napster. I think it’s a good model and definitely beats cable and buying CDs, respectively.

    It’s interesting how you guys stumbled into the no-TV mode. I think a lot of the time, we’re just so used to having things that we don’t realize we can get used to not having them as well.

    For example: my car is pretty much un-drivable since about 4 weeks ago because of suspension problems. My wife decided to wait one week before we made any decisions to fix the problem, because we didn’t want to rush anything. 4 weeks later? I don’t even know what life was like with 2 cars anymore. We’ve made it work completely.

    We’re going to end up waiting for our baby to be born and see if our schedules still work, but I think we may end up selling it altogether.

  2. Jonathan Frei

    I love not having cable. Over Thanksgiving I was at my parents house and spent, 15 minutes going through all their stations. I didn’t find anything to hold my attention. Flipping stations was the best I could do, and is probably as far as I’d get if I had it at home.

  3. Eric

    Back at my last apartment, I think basic cable (you know, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and then a million public access channels) was about $50 per month. When I moved to my new place, I decided not to have cable installed. And to be honest, I don’t really miss it.

    I mean really, especially during the summer there’s nothing on anyways, and when shows are in season, pretty much every show now is available for free on Hulu or the network’s website. I also have Netflix, which is only like $10 a month, and the instant watch library is pretty impressive. I just recently hooked my computer up to my TV and I can manage all my video(video files, Hulu, Netflix, etc) right from a program called Plex.

    And ironically, if you pay for cable you have to site though more commercials then when watching it online, and you can watch it when you want as opposed to at a designated time.

  4. SP

    I don’t think I would pay for Hulu — at least not as long as the individual networks hosted the shows on their sites for free.

    I don’t have cable either, though we do have rabbit ears. I found that cable just allows us to see what’s on and we end up watching shows we don’t really care about.

  5. Sam

    I have cable (free through college), but I never use it, and probably won’t get it when I graduate. As far as paying for Hulu… I’m not sold. I’d much rather they just showed me more ads. I’ll watch ads. When they do end up going behind a pay wall, I’ll probably grumble about it and do it. Of course, now that Comcast bought NBC, that’ll probably just mean getting a cable subscription.

    (Side note: You can watch some Dexter on Showtime’s website: It’s edited, but it’s better than not watching Dexter.)

  6. Lauren

    If your computer has a large enough screen, there are also ways to hook up your systems straight to your computer and play from there. In college a lot of my friends had tv’s smaller than my computer screen, so it doesn’t seem to be a huge issue to buy a simple box and hook up your Wii, PS3, or xbox360 straight to your laptop or desktop. Should work with mac’s as well.

  7. Eric

    I have cable, but not the premium package. I like sitting at home watching Law and Order all day on weekends, it is a weakness.

    I am a big Hulu fan too for schedule reasons. My girlfriend and I had this talk a few days ago, and she said she would cut internet before cable. Crazy, right?

    I just wrote about this myself at my blog:

  8. H Lee D

    We don’t have cable. I don’t watch TV unless I’m on a piece of cardio equipment at the gym or am watching a game with my hubby. Until I got married, I didn’t own a TV. (Community property state – I half own one now 😉 ) Even if there’s something on that sounds like it might be worth watching, TV is so far off my radar that I don’t remember to watch it.

  9. John Hunter

    I agree with you completely. I don’t have cable and have not for years. The only thing I really want is ESPN (well more broadly sports). I would be happy to pay for live college basketball over a Hulu like service.

    Unfortunately the bozos at ABC (that own ESPN) have created a internet solution that requires a Windows or Mac operating system to use it, very lame! They need to replace their decision makers with people that understand internet technology – you should not design something that is dependent on a specific operating system for internet applications. I can’t use it 🙁 since I use Ubuntu.

    I would pay something for some shows on Hulu – though most of them I would just do without.

  10. Emily

    I don’t have cable either. I didn’t even have a television for 3 years, until a friend decided I “should” have one. At that time, I decided to get basic cable for $20.00/month. However, I forgot I had it and barely watched it so I canceled my service after a couple of months. Admittedly, I watch shows on hulu and I’m not sure if I’d pay for them. Although enjoyable, it’s not a priority for me. I definitely need to see how they plan to charge and decide from there. Now that I do have a television with a dvd player, there’s still the public library and their dvd (and er, the VHS) collection there.
    Again, depends on hulu’s price for service/streaming structure that will be the deciding factor for me.
    If I’m remembering correctly, itunes charges .99c per episode (or did when I used that service).

  11. Writer's Coin

    When I lived in Paris for three months, I didn’t have a TV, much less cable. It was one of the most productive times in my life: I wrote, I read, I wrote some more, took a nap, and read some more. That was it. I lived the life of a writer.

    I’ve tried to duplicate that experience again but it hasn’t worked. And I am afraid to wind up like a friend of mine that doesn’t own a TV: completely clueless about popular culture, what the rest of the world is talking about, and overall left out. If you don’t even know what Seinfeld is or what The Office is, then some people won’t want to have anything to do with you.

    It’s true.

  12. Josh Heckathorn @ Creditnet

    I’ve been cable free for about a year now. It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but now I don’t miss it at all. Plus, I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of not paying the morons at Comcast $150 every month.

    And I can find everything I want to watch online…Madmen, Dexter, Lost, Desperate Housewives. Wait, did I just say that out loud?

  13. H Lee D

    @Writer’s Coin: It *is* true, but I’ve found that those are people I generally wouldn’t want to be friends with anyway. I don’t want to befriend people who require me to watch TV any more than I want to be friends with people who require me to drink or eat hamburgers. There isn’t anyone else in my social circle who doesn’t watch TV, and it’s not an issue.

  14. Douglas Hofstetter

    Dexter for the Win! Yes i as well do not have cable. I watch shows using Hulu, or streaming them from my PS3. When i eventually get my own place i won’t have cable there either.

  15. L@spillingbuckets

    We don’t have cable either. In our apartment they provided basic, here we just have rabbit ears that came with the TV (We still have an old CRT) and a digital converter that was free (except for tax) via the gov’t money.

    Hulu, and surfthechannel are my friends. (although with the latter you have to be a little careful)

    I don’t miss it at all. But I wouldn’t pay for Hulu. I’d find what I want on youtube or some other free site.

  16. Mrs. Money

    I’m thinking about cutting our cable. We play our Wii more than anything, and the cable costs a crapload of money that I’d rather save. I think it’s awesome you never had it installed!

  17. Roger

    Yes, yes I do watch television. I don’t know that I’m truly getting it in a way that works best for me, but given that I live with my fiancee and her mother, it’s not entirely up to me, in either event.

  18. Living with Balls

    This would probably work for me if I wasn’t a sports fan. Sports are meant to be watched live. Most of the shows I watch, I DVR as well.

  19. AK

    When I was in college, I definitely didn’t have cable and didn’t miss it. I watched my favorite TV shows streaming online, but other than that I was too busy to care. Now that I’m a year out and living in my own apartment, I have to say cable has been a necessity. Living by yourself with no TV is too creepy and boring, and now that my friends aren’t all living within walking distance, I have WAY to much free time when I’m not at work.

  20. A Frugal Chick » Frugal Fridays

    […] to try living without cable? Here is a great article from someone who […]

  21. Ryan @ Planting Dollars

    I don’t even have a TV!!

    I do go on hulu ocassionally to catch an episode of family guy or it’s always sunny in phildelphia, but other than that I’m on the computer working, outside, or at my 9-5.

    In college my roommates always wanted cable and I found myself watching CNN or hours of the history channel and feeling like a pile of crap afterwards. Now, with a low information diet, I feel a lot better. I don’t need to know who shot who across the world in any given day – as self absorbed as that sounds.

    I can focus more on my own life and literally be the change I want to see.

  22. ameyer13

    There was a 7 year stretch of time where I lived in an area where cable was required or watching TV would not be an option. I believe i had a snowy religious channel I could get in with rabbit ears but other than that, nada. years later i look back on that and ask myself how I did it. Currently I do subscribe to satellite service which is actually a lot of fun. There are many options that I had no idea existed until I started working for Dish Network. Really the biggest thing for me is the technology a company and offer, I recently got a Sling Adapter that does not cost me monthly and I can take it anywhere I go on my mobile. The other fantastic feature I’m loving is HD which currently I am also getting free. There really is not a comparison for me and although I was quite proud of my 7 year abstinence, I’m glad I’m media cultured.

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