I finally did it. I cut the cord. I ended my long relationship with expensive TV providers. Although I’m glad I did it, the decision was not an easy one.
I grew up with TV. Granted, I only got channels 6, 10 and 3, but they kept me entertained. I could lock on for hours and let the tube roll through such gems as The Mike Douglas Show and F-Troop without batting an eye. As I went through elementary school, I longed for the chance to be one of the cool kids and watch Batman, but I didn’t have cable and our old antenna on the roof wouldn’t pick up channel 4.
Later in life I indulged my TV habit – that is until I met my wife. She thought a TV was an expense we could do without. I used the power of my radio job at the time to shame her in to letting my sister give me her old black and white set. Later, we tried the no cable process to save money until my son, Andrew, got a job and began to pay for it. The lure of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine was too much for him.
I continued my TV ways long after Andy left and even stepped up to HD channels. Life was good. During many of the bad Pirate years I was able to have a front row seat to the misery (at least until June when they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs).
Over the past couple of years, however, I realized I was paying a premium price for a less than premium product. Despite more than 200 channels, there were very few things I wanted to watch. When I boiled the list down to my favorites, it became clear I was paying a lot of money for channels I had no desire to watch.
According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, one in five American households have either dumped their cable subscriptions or never ordered in the first place.
The article states that more than 20 percent of all households “were cable-free at the end of 2015.” Okay, so I joined in a little late, but I joined in nonetheless.
One more factor in this decision should be noted and that is the proliferation of online content. Using my Wi-Fi, I am able to watch different kinds of programming from all over the world. The amount of time I spend in front of my TV has been reduced, but I can still get some very good entertainment when I’m in the mood.
I have noticed some instant benefits from being freed from the tyranny of the TV. My library usage is up dramatically. I read two novels last week and thoroughly enjoyed them. I have more time to take care of the things around the house that I let slide.
I go to bed earlier, but that just might be because I’m getting older and not because of not watching TV.
One huge benefit is the fact I can live almost political ad free. Before I cut the cord, the negative political ads were reaching a fever pitch as they seemingly aired almost every two minutes no matter what channel I was watching. It didn’t matter how many times I hit recall on the remote – they were out to get me.
Don’t think for a minute that this has been all green grass and roses for this confessed TV junkie. I can only watch the football games ESPN decides to air, which rarely involve the Steelers. I can’t watch the Penguins defend their title, but listening to Mike Lange and the Old Two-Niner can take the sting out of that.
I missed what some have argued to be the greatest World Series of all time. That didn’t hurt as much since the Pirates weren’t in it, but what about next year? I will listen to the radio, sure, but trust me, without Bob Prince it won’t be as much fun. I won’t have my nightly appointment with Root Sports anymore. Granted, I sometimes didn’t make it past the fifth inning because of those SOBs (Same-Old-Bucs), I have had it pretty good here in the McCutchen era. I guess I can watch the replays on the Pirate website.
Weighing all the good and bad about this decision, I think the scale tips to the good side. Having a few extra dollars a month helps and getting some time back to read, work and visit is always a plus. Just don’t try to talk to me about what happened on TV last night. For the first time since the days of ...na-na-na-na-na-Batman, I won’t know.