I Cancelled My TV Service

I cancelled my TV service yesterday. It's just a formality, though. I moved the set out a month or two ago and haven't really missed it. For some people, this might not be a big deal, but if you're raised in a household of constant TV, it's a real change.

This happened in three phases. Earlier in the year, some things happened in my life that left a lot of my attachments looking pretty empty and unnecessary.  It's not something I planned. I just slowly started to realize that television wasn't really doing anything for me.

I stopped watching completely for a few weeks. I came back to watch one show, and found I had new perspective. The rapid rate of commercials is so intense that it's actually funny. They have thirty seconds to try to convince you that you need something which you probably do not. Chaos ensues.

Maybe that all seems obvious, but I think it's hard to get a feel for the gravity of it until you go away for a while and come back. Not unbearable, but not pleasant either.

Sorry to Interrupt

The format that networks seem to prefer make it hard for a show to build a rhythm and maintain mood. Going from a serious moment to a fast food commercial is a harsh transition, and there are only about eight to ten minutes of show between commercials. Yikes.

Then something happened which made the final decision easy for me. I was reminded of the ads that take up the bottom third of the screen in the middle of the show. I'm focused on the show that's on right now, but the network chooses to interrupt that and advertise another show that's on later.

What about right now, this moment? The present. Can I finish this one first? What's the point of watching a show if they don't let me enjoy it? I can't imagine listening to a song on the radio and hearing the announcer talk about the next song while the current one is still playing.

Last Bits of the Transition

There were a handful of rough spots when I first moved the TV out. A few of those "um, what do I do now?" moments. Then I realized I could just put on some music instead, and that was that. For the shows I do want to see, I'd rather pay $2, skip the ads, and watch them anytime I want.

I'm not trying to be preachy. Do what makes you happy. I'm just glad that iTunes makes it practical to pay for the commercials to go away and have the shows be on a custom schedule.
Design Element
I Cancelled My TV Service
Posted Dec 5, 2006 — 24 comments below


James — Dec 05, 06 2561

I got rid of mine about 2 years ago. Trust me: you won't look back.

MatzeLoCal — Dec 05, 06 2562

I'm now about one and a half year without TV ... and I didn't miss it one second. I have to admit, that I still do not read more, which was what I was most hoping for, but anyway, I still use my time better than before.

So, good luck for you Scott :)

Fraser Speirs — Dec 05, 06 2563

I was raised without TV and I've never owned one as an adult either. People ask how I find time to do the things I do. This is how.

Volker — Dec 05, 06 2564


I live without TV since about 10 years, and I miss nothing. On the other hand I also don't know what I could be missing ...

Our German TV adopted US ad strategies, so movies get interrupted much too often for up to ten minutes each break. The few other series that I am interested in have to be broadcasted without me.


David — Dec 05, 06 2565

Swimming against the tide here.
Always had it, always will. 65 years old.
Only reason I am still able to watch is the blessed DVR. I never have to see a commercial.
Being a Patriot's fan, I record the games and start watching about an hour after start time, thus able to skip thru the accumulated junk. With some network games, where I hate the commentary, I even skip between the plays and so a game only takes an hour to watch instead of 3.5.
With the exception of NFL games, I only turn the thing on in the late evening, a few hours before I hit the bed, where I then watch whatever I had selected to record earlier.
If you ever go back (and don't !!!), get a DVR

Steve-o — Dec 05, 06 2566

I, like David, only watch thanks to the "magic" of DVR. And even with that, I watch TV pretty sparingly.

But I'd never get rid of the set -- because I love films (so DVDs are a must), and to a much, much lesser extent, I enjoy gaming. I guess my "TV" is more of "monitor" really, in that sense. But my wife and I aren't going to huddle around a 17" MBP screen or what have you to watch a movie.

Jonathan — Dec 05, 06 2567

I still live with my parents so they have a TV.
I do not watch it very much, and I would not get one when I move out. I would be paying for something I never use.
I can't stand adds on TV. I live in South Africa, so I don't know what they are like there, but most here are really dumb.
I also finds that it becomes a chore.
If there is a program you want to watch you have to keep time scheduled for it every week.
When there is something I really want to watch (witch isn't often) I get it on DVD (ITMS isn't available here). I also don't need a TV, cos my Mac Mini has a DVD player. My computer is in my bedroom, and I prefer sitting on the bed than the couch anyway...

Jeff Watkins — Dec 05, 06 2568

Like several folks already mentioned, I don't watch TV. Up until I got married, I didn't own a TV. My wife owns one, but it is reserved for Netflix.

There really is a huge difference between watching television shows live and via Netflix: I don't have to skip the commercials. I can watch when I want to. I can watch multiple episodes.

On additional benefit is that (basically) no having watched a commercial since the early 90s has put me out of touch: I don't know what I need to buy. So my instincts take over and I buy books and music...

Scott Stevenson — Dec 05, 06 2570 Scotty the Leopard

because I love films (so DVDs are a must), and to a much, much lesser extent, I enjoy gaming

The 20" iMac is just a few feet from my bed so it works perfectly with Front Row and the remote. If I end up with a Wii at some point, I might bring the TV back just for that. I could also use a separate monitor but not sure how the cabling situation works. Plus there are some sort of sensors that sit on top, right?

Philippe Regenass — Dec 05, 06 2571

We have at home only two channel and I watch only dvd movies WITHOUT advertising ;-)
since two month watch with zattoo.com a little bit television but the junk and advertising it's so bad, i have be stoped to watch.
coding is the better think to do ;-)

Adam Spooner — Dec 05, 06 2572

We didn't get a television until I was 13.

Ten years later and the only television I have is connected to a DVD player (I'm a movie lover) and an original NES (my wife and I love Dr. Mario, and yes... she's better than I am). I keep so busy reading that I don't even know where I'd squeeze T.V. in (not that I want to). I've found that not having a T.V. has kept me from buying pointless stuff and that is a good thing. Also, the money saved on not spending rediculous amounts per month on a cable/satellite subscription can be used for other things that are much more important (read: charity and saving for my child's college).

So I say, yay to the absence of the tube.

fondomatic — Dec 05, 06 2573

Stopped our cable service about two years ago (when basic cable hit $50/month). We use our tv mostly for PS2 gaming, Netflix, and the occasional over-the-air broadcasts. Had a USDigital terrestrial high def receiver which worked great, but died after about a year & a half.

We spend more time online, reading books, & listening to music.

Kevin — Dec 05, 06 2574

I'll be getting my own place soon, and I've been contemplating whether or not to get a TV, and if so, to get cable service. I really only watch the news and the Colbert Report, which I've started downloading off iTunes instead and watching on my own time, instead on the TV's time. But, as a 22 year old, it's kind of a hard decision. However I'm considering subscribing to the newspaper instead of watching CNN/Fox, and if I use iTunes instead of Comedy Central, I think I'll be fine. But I will probably still buy a TV for watching DVDs. Any advice for a young 20-something? :)

Chris — Dec 05, 06 2575

However I'm considering subscribing to the newspaper instead of watching CNN/Fox

Correct answer: none of the above. They're all tainted with right-wing hard conservative spin. Go with the BBC News website and Google News, but be aware that you're still reading through the filter of the news industry. You need to access local blogs for local news.

Chris Ryland — Dec 05, 06 2576

Good for you! We decided before we were married (25 years ago, yikes!) that we'd never own a TV, for a lot of reasons.

I think the best reasons against TV--yes, even beyond the time it frees up--are summarized by Neil Postman in his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Basically, his argument is that TV at it best (most serious, most educational, etc.) can be no more than distraction/titillation, by its very nature.

Gerard — Dec 05, 06 2577

Somehow I can't imaging watching tv without TiVo.

Ken — Dec 05, 06 2581

Yea, getting away from the "news," right-tainted or left, is one of the best reasons for throwing out the TV.

Stuart Dootson — Dec 05, 06 2582

The whole ad thing isn't so much of an issue in the UK - we still have four BBC channels that have *no* paid-for ad breaks (the Beeb advertise their own programmes, but that's about it). The other channels do have ads, but they're not as excessive as in the US - have to say I very rarely watch programmes in real-time, so ads aren't so much of an issue :-)

Steve-o — Dec 05, 06 2584

The 20" iMac is just a few feet from my bed so it works perfectly with Front Row and the remote.

Yah, I'm not so lucky in that respect. And we do have the occasional "movie party" or the like, so having a larger, dedicated screen in the living room is a plus. This is one of those I-got-married-and-now-have-more-space kinds of things, I guess.

If I end up with a Wii at some point, I might bring the TV back just for that. I could also use a separate monitor but not sure how the cabling situation works. Plus there are some sort of sensors that sit on top, right?

I looooooove my Wii. The Wii brought be back to console gaming in the same way the DS brought me back to handhelds.

Anyway, it's a little tricky to connect a Wii to a PC monitor, unfortunately. at least so far... there's no VGA cable solution. Yet. There will be at some point, I'm sure. But right now you'd need some kind of conversion box, which introduces delay/lag.

And there is a sensor bar which you place either on top or below the screen. That can be done with a computer monitor, of course. And this is a more... fudgeable... factor, because all the bar does is emit infrared light which the Wii remote sees which is how it calculates location. Since that's all it is, people have demonstrably ditched the sensor bar for alternatives -- candles (!), battery-powered LEDs, etc. So you can always find a way to make it work in your rig.

That ended up being quite the tangent. Sorry 'bout that!

Justin Williams — Dec 05, 06 2585

I dont know how people can live without TV. TV is an escape for my brain after a long day of programming and writing. I dont see how that is the ruination of society.

Scott Stevenson — Dec 06, 06 2586 Scotty the Leopard

Anyway, it's a little tricky to connect a Wii to a PC monitor, unfortunately. at least so far... there's no VGA cable solution

I just found the EyeTV EZ, which seems to fit the bill. Macworld says this:

Unlike other DVR interfaces, the EyeTV EZ doesnít encode video in MPEG before sending it to the Mac. So there isnít any appreciable lag between the time something happens on the video-game console and when it appears on your screen.

Works for me. Only catch is that it's $150, which is more than half a Wii right there. I might be better off buying a separate smaller TV. In their defense, it looks like this is actually a tuner too, not just a converter.

John A — Dec 06, 06 2587

The TV in our house has primarily become a monitor for the GameCube, and soon the Wii. There are very few TV series that we watch "live", as we tend to purchase the DVD sets ( though I can't think of a recent TV series that we've bought ), and these moreoften than not, are watched on one of the Macs. Same goes for the movies.

Bret — Dec 06, 06 2588

We're thinking about getting a HD big-screen... primarally for movies (we'll see what shakes out from the HD-DVD/BluRay format war) and stuff from Discovery/TLC (the DVR is a godsend!). However, I'm making doggon sure that it's got enough inputs for a Mini and maby an X-Box (OK, OK, I'll admit it - I'm a Bungie freak, going back to the days of Marathon running on an 8100)...
I'm afraid I can name the shows I want to watch regularly on one hand, though - MythBusters, CSI (the original), House (Hugh Laurie fan, from back when he did Jeves and Wooster), and occasionally one of Discovery Networks car shows (Overhauln', Rides, American Chopper, or American Hot Rod - the latter two are excelent examples of how not to run a buisness!). Now, if a) iTunes had these in their current episode, not just ones from several seasons ago (I just check again - the MythBusters are all quite old), and 2) I had a fast enough internet connection (podcasts and software updates choke my poor dsl modem - I hate to think of what multiple 3-8GB downloads of TV shows would do to it!) then I might be able to get rid of the DSS subscription, but...

Chris Hanson — Dec 06, 06 2600

I enjoy television. I bought a Westinghouse HD monitor a few months back and love it (as anyone who's read my blog or talked to me recently would know). There's a lot of crap, but there are also enough gems - even in HD - to make it worthwhile to me to have a nice television. Not to mention it's fun to plug my MacBook Pro into the equivalent of a 42-inch Cinema Display...

I have to say though, that I can't imagine life now without at least a minimally-capable DVR. (And the Comcast box certainly falls on the "minimally" side.) Television is way more interesting without having to care about its schedule. Now I just wish I could throw more storage at it; HD is big.


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