Ditching Satellite Television

Ditching Satellite Television - Eight Months Later...The Conclusion

As many of you might remember my wife and I got fed up with the insane cost of satellite TV earlier this year and decided to seek out other alternatives. We opted to try a digital antenna (Amazon.com, $30 one time cost) which brings in 24 free stations from the air and AppleTV (refurbished from the Apple Store, $79 one time cost). We subscribed to HuluPlus and Netflix through AppleTV for a total monthly charge of under $17.00 versus the $130 per month we paid for satellite television. We're eight months into our experiment and have discovered a few things, some of them we expected and some we very much did not. Obviously, we love the cost savings. The total return on the investment of $109 for the antenna and AppleTV was made back the very first month after we cancelled our satellite tv subscription. We have $100+ more in the bank now at the end of every month. What's not to love about that?

Now it’s going to get real. First, there was the honeymoon period. For the first few months our excitement over the cost savings carried us through with smiles on our faces. For me, doubt began to set in around the third month. We found ourselves starting to grumble about the lack of good things to watch on tv. Although Netflix does have really good independent and foreign films (which I love), the bulk of their mainstream movies are horribly outdated for the most part. HuluPlus? Forget about it unless you missed all of the bad movies from the 1980's and 1990's. AppleTV has a vast variety of current movies but our internet connection isn’t fast enough to stream them. For more current movies Redbox is a great option.

Over the air TV programming during our peak viewing time of 6 to 8PM consists of nightly network news, Wheel of Fortune, and a few sitcoms. The former of which bombards you with a steady stream of depressing/negative stories, fear mongering, and mostly nonsense. Our savior has been a combination of PBS and a weak local over-the-air channel that plays reruns of 1970's sitcoms like MASH and Sanford and Son.

Now for some of the things that we weren't anticipating. We are watching far less television. As a result we have more of our time to do other things, like read, listen to good music, exercise, and write (for me). This has enhanced our lives in ways that are both measurable and in many ways that aren't. We find that we aren't zoned out in front of the tube so we talk more. About six months into the experiment I noticed that my brain isn’t as fuzzy, my mental recall is faster, and even my perception of reality had become vastly different than it was before.

Even before this experiment began we watched far less television than the average American. Still, this transformation took a full six months to start to occur. Once I reduced my television viewing I began to realize on a deeper level that the importance our society places on celebrity gossip, consumerism, and trends seem utterly ridiculous given the more serious things going on in the world. Some programming seems like an absolute insult to your intelligence.

Eight months into life without satellite TV life is different but I can assure you that it’s better. I feel more intuned with my body and soul, I feel healthier physically and mentally, I have more free time, and there’s more money in my wallet. I realize that more than our television was deprogrammed as the result of canceling that satellite television subscription! In conclusion, although I miss American Pickers and a few other shows, the positives far outweigh the negatives. A veil has been lifted and our lives are so much better for it.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Ditching Satellite Television - An Experiment

My wife and I were locked into a two year contract with one of the major satellite television providers here in the United States and it recently expired. The monthly fee for the middle package that we purchased steadily increased every six months of the two year contract until we were paying almost $100 per month. We had about a hundred channels but it was deceiving, nearly half of these channels were infomercials and pay-per-view movie channels. The other half rarely had anything worth watching. It became truly painful to hand over $100 to this corporation month after month. We're both so busy we watch very little television anyway. We searched for other viewing alternatives and finally found the best solution for us. We found that Apple TV paired with a HuluPlus subscription ($7.99 per month) and a digital TV antenna to pull in the local stations in HD will give us nearly all of the channels we watched previously. The cost of freedom is $150 in hardware but less than 1/10th the monthly cost ($7.99 vs. $100).

Just a few minutes ago we took the plunge and began our journey, purchasing Apple TV and a digital TV antenna (RCA model ANT1650F) online. The hardware should be delivered by the end of the this week and I'll be posting periodically about how it's going.  The major hurdle I envision is a psychological one, getting used to on-demand versus scheduled programming. According the Steve Jobs, this is the future of TV and if the popularity of TiVo is any indication, Mr. Jobs was correct.

With the rising cost of living many people, out of necessity are deciding to put more thought into where their money goes.  I think it's also the public's growing uneasiness about corporate control of their lives. I just recently heard on the radio that people are leaving the cable and satellite television providers in droves.  This will be the only thing that forces media companies to evolve, to morph into something different and consumer-friendly. Soon we'll see what television viewing is like on the "other side" of corporate control.  Stay tuned, more to come.