I am a child of the 1980s/early 1990s. Cable television was a big part of my childhood. I grew up with Nickelodeon, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and occasionally, when the cable companies offered free trials, the coveted Disney Channel. When I was
old enough, ahem, when I snuck it in without my parents’ knowing, I lived for MTV’s Real World and music videos, you know, back when they actually showed music videos. I didn’t spend too many hours watching T.V. as a child, but but it was omnipresent, always available in the background whenever boredom or rainy days struck from the time I was elementary school-aged onward.
So, if you told 15-year-old me that in 2014 I would be saying “sayonara” to cable, I would have thought you were crazy. But, I have, and I’m not looking back.
Why have we cut the both literal and proverbial cord with our cable-filled past? For so many reasons!
First, cable is expensive. Our bill kept creeping up. When I called to find out why, I was simply told that our “package rates had changed” and that was that. I was able to argue it down by $15, but it seemed crazy to pay so much, especially when we had two other digital media subscriptions on top of cable.
Cost aside, we didn’t use it much. We aren’t big sports fans over here. My husband enjoys watching the summer Olympics, and I don’t follow any sports at all. That means every four years, we should be sure we have good sports coverage for a few weeks of that year. Otherwise, we were spending lots of money for the luxury of Curious George and Bubble Guppies on-demand.
Another impetus was that television had become our default time-filler. Bored? Let’s watch something! Don’t want to clean up after dinner? Procrastinate with some mindless channel surfing! I found myself cycling through the hundreds of channels, not even watching anything, wasting hours in the evenings and complaining that “nothing good is even on…”
Finally, we realized that for people who don’t watch much television, we had cable, Netflix streaming, and Amazon Prime Video. That’s right, three separate media subscriptions. How did that happen?
So, we did it. We bought a Roku box, and we are all still standing.
How is life on the other side, you ask? Fantastic.
Though we still have plenty of media available to us even without cable, we are watching less television and not missing it at all. The urgency of “Oh! It’s after dinner! Is ‘Sophia the First’ on? Can we pleaaaase watch it before bed?” is gone. All the shows are available to be streamed anytime, so there’s no more feeling pressure to watch things when they’re on. There’s also no more channel surfing. The shows I like are all “out there”, ready to watch when I want to zone out with a show or movie, but there are no channels to click though. It took about a week to adjust to this (after 32 years of channel surfing), but now I’m finding myself with more free time and less couch time. Finally, we have more options, not less, when it comes to kids’ shows. While my pre-mother self swore up and down that my kids would never watch T.V., let’s just say that hasn’t been my reality. Now, when they want to watch Wild Kratts for the 500th time in a week, we can stream entire seasons instead of the limited “on-demand” options we had. This means I don’t have to see the same episode over, and over, and over. Win.
So here we are. Cable-less, and still surviving and thriving. It can be done! Have any other families ditched cable and lived to tell the tale?