An Adventure in Cable Cutting – Day One


After many, many years of cable TV in this GeekDad’s house, we cut the coax. There are several reasons why the GeekMom and I chose to do this – and none of them have to do with being anti-TV. We’ve started a new adventure of video streaming and do-it-yourself. I’m also sure we’re not alone in this.

Time Warner remote, cable box, HDMI, coax, and my scissors cutting the cableTime Warner remote, cable box, HDMI, coax, and my scissors cutting the cable

Photo by Russ Neumeier

There are a few shows that are must-watch in our house…the key-word there is few. Over the past couple of months I noticed several things in that helped us make our decision to return our cable box to Time Warner:

  1. Typically four or five nights a week someone in the family would complain “there’s nothing on” – this with over 100 channels and on-demand programming.
  2. We found that about 80% of the time, we were defaulting to on-demand programming vs the standard TV schedule.
  3. Even though we utilized parental control for the programming, commercials were another matter entirely – shows that were not blocked by our settings had commercials resulting in us scrambling for the remote to mute and/or change channels.
  4. The decline in cable programming – I mean I remember when MTV was music videos, the History Channel discussed history, The Learning Channel (now TLC) taught you something, the Food Network was about cooking…no longer – it seems it’s all slapped-together “reality” shows or other drivel looking for ratings from the pulp thrill and “reality” voyeurism.

The decision has been made, the cable company picked up their box Monday morning and we are free of cable TV…so what are we doing instead? A couple things.

  1. We kept our high-speed internet connection and are streaming TV from the websites. The kids can watch all the shows they want online – a few dollars in cabling and an old laptop re-purposed with Ubuntu is now the media center for the shows we find worth watching. I created a no-frills webpage as the homepage for the browser on the laptop that has links to each family member’s favorites. Sure, there are typically 3-5 full episodes online, but this is no different that Time Warner’s on-demand programming.
  2. We’re testing out Boxee. I can say right now, I’m not totally sold on this yet and am very glad that I didn’t spend nearly $200 for the Boxee set-top through a retailer. The re-purposed laptop has the build your own Boxee on it, and we’re still learning, but we’ll see…my guess is that before too long it will fall to the wayside unless the content more closely aligns with the shows we want to watch.
  3. RedBox will be our go-to movie fix. We had Netflix and cancelled when the price increase came along as we found we watched a few movies a month and it was less expensive to grab a DVD than use the streaming from Netflix or even the DVDs by mail.
  4. We’ll keep a close eye on Amazon Prime. There have been several significant announcements from Amazon recently on the content available to Amazon Prime members (in addition to the free 2-day shipping). If we find after the new year that we’re frustrated with the content available online via the channel’s websites, we may go this route for additional programming.

Now, we’re early into this adventure. I’m fully prepared for the weeping and gnashing of teeth – but I’ve asked the family to be patient with me. 😉

I’ve also not even started looking at digital antennas for the outside of the house – although I know a few people in the area that have.

Bottom line: I’m a n00b at this non-Cable-TV stuff…and I know some of our readers have been cable-free for months or years; so, what are your hints and tips for making the transition and making this work for a family used to lots of channels but “nothing on TV”?

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